FULTON — Emma Weaver recalls being uncertain her first few games at the varsity level.
Then a freshman at G. Ray Bodley High School, Weaver was on a Fulton girls lacrosse team that was brimming with talent. Some of those Red Raiders went on to play NCAA Division I lacrosse at the University at Albany, the University of Connecticut, and Quinnipiac.
Weaver gained confidence throughout her first year, became the leading scorer in Section III in her sophomore season and now — although her junior season is in jeopardy due to the COVID-19 pandemic — she signed a letter of intent to continue her lacrosse career at UAlbany.
“I was young and it was scary to play with all those D-1 athletes. I never thought I would get this far,” Weaver said. “Last year … I liked cutting in, catching the ball and finishing. That was my job. This year I was supposed to be captain, so now I’m becoming more of a leader on the team.”
Weaver is expected to join two former Fulton teammates on the Great Danes. Hailey Carroll and Mallori Kitts each started their sophomore season with UAlbany this spring.
“She has been really helpful for me,” Weaver said of Carroll, who accompanied her for a part of her visit to UAlbany. “She was like a mentor with how the team is run and my attack skills. She still gives me tips when she is around.”
While Weaver is preparing to compete at the top college level, she didn’t always believe she’d have the opportunity to get there.
During her freshman season Weaver was surrounded by skilled and experienced upperclassmen, but still capitalized on her chances when the ball came her way and finished with 48 goals and seven assists.
“I can remember being very impressed by Emma’s ability to finish near the goal when often she was our sixth or seventh option offensively,” Fulton coach Dan Bartlett said. “There is only one ball on the field and we had a bunch of players that needed to touch the ball.”
During her sophomore season, Weaver quickly found chemistry with Keara Patterson, who is now at Quinnipiac. Weaver registered 80 goals, which led all of Section III, and added 10 assists.
The Patterson-to-Weaver connection was an integral part to Fulton’s run to the Section III semifinals. The year before, the Raiders fell in the sectional finals to Jamesville-DeWitt.
“Emma is not only a great player from a lacrosse standpoint, but she is a first-class all-around athlete that excels on the field, in the classroom and with her teammates as a friend and role model,” Bartlett said.
This spring, with schools closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Weaver and her teammates are just hoping for a season. Weaver goes outside to shoot almost every day, has Zoom meetings with her teammates a couple of times a week and participates in workouts led virtually by a trainer twice a week.
“It’s really rough to think that I might not be able to play (this season), but I’m always getting outside with my stick and trying to keep my skills up,” Weaver said. “I’m always in contact with my team and we have a lot of Zoom meetings. That’s nice to stay in contact with them and keep that team bonding going.”
The key for Weaver, even if this season is lost, is to come out even stronger next year and to complete the one high school goal she has left.
“Next year is when we go for our section title,” Weaver said.
After high school, Weaver is looking forward to the next challenge. Bartlett said one of her best traits is her commitment to consistent improvement.
“I’m just going to go into college, train really hard and see how I do. I’m going to try to get on the field, but obviously that’s difficult for a lot of freshmen. That usually doesn’t happen,” Weaver said. “I’m going to really keep my training up and see if I can get that to happen.”