Updated Tue, Sep 18, 2012 8:20 am
“There are over 400,000 NCAA student athletes, and just about all of us will be going pro in something other than sports.”
That is the famous byline from the NCAA’s recent television campaign about the truth of college athletes. For one former Bobcat student athlete that line is only partially true. Meryl Weaver, who spent the last four years on the Ohio Women’s Golf team building an impressive resume both on and off the course along with her twin sister Megan, has decided to challenge that trend…sort of.
When Weaver graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Integrated Math focusing on intermediate teaching many probably thought she was done at Ohio. After all, most students are ready to leave school after completing so many years of rigorous exams and projects. Then again, Meryl Weaver isn’t your typical student.
“I love school. I really do. I enjoy learning…and I just love Athens” Weaver said enthusiastically, explaining why she chose to come back to Ohio to go to grad school. “Originally I looked into getting my fellowship here, teaching part-time and getting my master’s.”
But when that plan didn’t work out she had a conversation with her coach, Kelly Ovington about her options going forward, and Ovington offered her a position as a graduate assistant.
Weaver gladly accepted the job. “It’s a perfect fit,” she said with a smile when talking about her new role on the team. “It’s a lot of fun, coaching. I’m able to walk the course with the team and give them advice.”
Weaver got her first taste of the job last season. While injured for a stretch of the year, she was forced to sit on the sidelines helping her teammates from a supporter’s role rather than from the course.
“I had to sit out one of the rounds, so I kind of got a feeling for just sitting on the cart and going and seeing how everyone’s doing.”
She wasn’t able to truly coach back then, as she was still a member of the team, but she enjoyed being able to help the squad from a mentor’s role.
Now that she is actually coaching, she enjoys every minute of it. “I’m making much more of a difference than I feel I could (playing) on the team,” said Weaver. “(While playing) I could contribute my score, but now I can help five people that are playing, all at one time. That’s just great.”
Of course it’s not just on the course that the two-time NGCA Scholar Athlete has an impact on the team. Her passion for teaching has allowed her to help some of the members of the Women’s team academically as well. Weaver’s focus in grad school is to expand her teaching abilities so she can teach at the middle school, high school and college levels. So when a freshman on the team recently had a big math exam, she turned to Weaver for help.
“I tutored her for like an hour before the test and she came back and said ‘I knew all of them except one, and I felt really good about it.’ Just knowing that you can make a difference is really what it boils down to and that just brings a smile to my face,” said Weaver.
“I think I learned somewhere that helping others and altruism is the number one source of happiness.”
If this is true, then Weaver is a very happy person. She has offered more than her fair share of help, giving advice on swings and putting techniques both to teammates and competitors.
“The great thing about golf compared to other sports is you get to know your competitors. We walk around for 36 holes. You actually get to become friends with them…the game is so challenging that you root for each other,” she stated. “You get excited for other people to do well. I hope I’ll continue doing that for the rest of my life.”
It’s that excitement, derived from teaching and coaching, which drives Weaver.
“It’s just so rewarding being out there coaching, them wanting my advice, and just trusting my advice.”
Weaver was one of the leaders of the Bobcats team over the past couple years, finishing with the fourth-lowest stroke average on the squad last season. So when she gives advice it comes from a wealth of experience and knowledge.
Having played golf since she was young, Weaver grew up around the game. Her grandfather on her mother’s side was a very good golfer. She says it is from him that she and her sister inherited their golf skills. “My dad’s just a bogey golfer, and my mom just started playing in the last five years,” she said laughing. “So she gets really excited to just hit it in the air still.” Athletics run in the family; her father Carl was a basketball player at Walsh University in his younger days, and her cousin Kristi Recktenwalt played volleyball at Youngstown State.
Weaver’s father decided to put the twins in every sport he could to get them a taste of a variety of games. Weaver says it was golf, though, that she and her sister eventually fell in love with. “I love the challenge,” she stated. “Every hole, every shot brings a new challenge. You’ll never get the same shot twice, every course is different.”
By the time they reached high school the local newspapers around Perry, Ohio coined the term the “Weaver Duo” to describe Meryl and her sister and their skills on the course. When the duo started looking for colleges to go to, it was their mother, an Ohio alumna, who initially swayed them toward Ohio.
“She was kind of subconsciously pushing, like ‘hey don’t forget about Ohio, you can always go to Ohio.’”
However, when they paid a visit to the campus themselves, they knew it was the school for them.
“There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about the school,” Weaver said smiling.
After four successful years at Ohio, as a member of the Bobcats women’s golf team, Weaver is excited about the future. As the first graduate assistant the team has ever had, she is happy to continue to have an impact on the squad while polishing up her coaching and teaching skills for her next step in life. Weaver wants to pursue a career in teaching math. Not that surprising considering her penchant for helping others.
“I’m going to try to start out being a professor, and then I think I’m going to fall back on teaching high school.”
When asked if she sees coaching golf as a part of her future teaching endeavors she smiled and answered without hesitation.
“Absolutely! If I end up teaching high school I’d definitely go down the golf coach route. Maybe if I end up being a professor at a Division 2 or Division 3 school I could look into coaching as well. That’s definitely a possibility,” she exclaimed.
“It’s a lot of fun coaching. I think recruiting would be very stressful…but again, it’s another challenge!”