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Keystone Grad Weaver Reinvents Her Athletic Career Following Three ACL Tears in Same Knee

GREENVILLE, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Tessa Weaver’s left knee has cost her a great deal. 

Basketball. Her speed on the track. A possible career in the Navy. 

But the Keystone High School graduate and sophomore at Thiel College would rather not dwell on what she has lost to three ACL tears and four surgeries on that ravaged knee. 

“It was really hard at first,” Weaver said. “After a good couple of weeks, I was like, “Well, I can either dwell on the past or look forward to the future and just work hard and try to get back to where I want to be.’ That’s my mindset with all of it. I’ve always just been trying to look to the future and make the best of it.”

That has included doing something she never thought she’d do. 

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

A sprinter in high school before the knee injuries sapped her explosiveness and quickness, Weaver turned to the shot put with just two weeks remaining at the end of her junior year with the Panthers. 

She took to the event quickly. By the end of her senior year, she qualified for the PIAA Track and Field Championships. 

“I was a runner, and I couldn’t do that the way I wanted to anymore — I don’t exactly like losing very well,” Weaver said. “Once I started getting slower, I decided to try something new, and I just picked it up.”

It was a way for Weaver to fill the competitive void created by her damaged knee. 

The first time she tore her ACL was before her sophomore year at Keystone. It happened again just before her senior year.

“So, well, my junior year I got to play a little,” Weaver said. 

The third torn ACL came during her freshman year on the basketball team at Chatham University in Pittsburgh. For awhile, she didn’t even know it was torn, even though she felt pain and it affected her play.

“The coach at Chatham worked with me a lot, trying to get me back up to speed,” Weaver said. “It just wouldn’t go because it was torn.”

When the tear was discovered, doctors told Weaver that her basketball playing days were finished.

It was devastating to Weaver, who excelled on the court when she was healthy.

“My main thing was basketball — I really, really enjoyed basketball,” Weaver said. “That was really hard.”

Weaver, though, had an athletic itch that needed scratching. An old sport that comforted her during her injuries in high school leapt into her mind.

“I figured I’d go back to track,” she said. 

It took two schools for her to get there. 

She left Chatham after her first semester and enrolled at Slippery Rock University, but she quickly realized SRU was the right place for her. 

Weaver decided to transfer again, this time to Thiel, and has found a home with the Tomcats.

She recently won the shot put at the Tomcat Invitational with a career-best throw of 11.40 meters.

With the Presidents’ Athletic Conference Track and Field Championships rapidly approaching, Weaver is ranked second, tied with Lexi Shiderly of Westminster, behind Megan Parker, who is also a thrower at Westminster.

She’s creeping up on the Thiel record in the event of 12.82 meters set by Savalla Hillard in 1995.

Breaking that mark is on Weaver’s to-do list.

“Next year I hope to get that,” Weaver said.

Next year she also hopes to return to the track – she’s been feeling the urge to run again.

“I’m gonna try,” Weaver said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Her knee feels fine now, but arthritis has already set it. Weaver knows she will have life-long issues with it and may eventually require knee replacement surgery.

That’s down the road.

Now, Weaver is broadening her track and field career by picking up another event, the discus.

“It’s definitely getting better, but it’s pretty rough,” Weaver said, chuckling. “On a personal level, I’m just not very good staying patient, so shot is just a little more explosive type of a thing for me.”

Weaver is simply thankful to be competing in anything at the collegiate level following her rash of knee injuries.

She just never expected it to be as a thrower.

“I’m pretty proud of myself,” Weaver said. “It was hard doing it. The mental aspect of it was probably the worst part. I was used to playing basketball and doing sports and I couldn’t do it for so long. So this means a lot more if I never tore my ACL, I guess. It just has a lot more meaning.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.