'Hardwood Journeys': William Monroe's Ella Weaver
STANARDSVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Ella Weaver has blossomed into the next star on the hardwood in Greene County, a county with a deep rooted passion for basketball, but the love of the game started on the road.
"A really good team back then and we went to New Orleans and a really fun tournament, so I just really enjoyed the experience," Weaver remembered back to her early travel days in elementary school, "It's just taken me a lot of cool places that I've enjoyed."
One of those trips was with her fifth grade AAU team to New Orleans, where she teamed up with other future stars in STAB's Kymora Johnson and Louisa County's Sylvie Jackson to finish as national runners up.
"Now looking back three of us have D-I offers, I didn't know back then that this would be how it turned out now," Weaver said, "I was just a bench warmer, I just came off the bench, but it was a lot of fun."
Back home in Greene, Weaver witnessed one of the most successful eras in William Monroe girl's basketball history in middle school, as the Dragons made a state tournament appearance led by one-time nation's top recruit Sam Brunelle.
"I was an eighth grader when Sam was a senior, so I would get pulled up to practice with them sometimes, offseason conditioning. It was really nice to be able to be in that environment and see what it was like," Weaver said, "It was very energetic and very purposeful, everyone came in with a purpose and worked really hard because they had a goal."
The experience drove Weaver on the court as she developed into a three-time All-Northwestern District and All-Region 3B performer, while piling up at least 12 Division I offers from the likes of Radford, Southern Miss and Akron among others.
"I think my confidence that was always a thing I struggled with," Weaver said, "Just the continuous work has really built my confidence and made me do everything that I'm capable of doing."
Weaver is pushing for another big summer before making a college decision. But before her final season with the Dragons, the Greene County lifer knows how far she has come already.
"I definitely remember freshman year, beginning of the season, my coach would always bug me to put on my "varsity speed", she called it," Weaver laughed, "Looking back I'm proud of myself for continuing to put in all that work and all that time and becoming the player I am today."