SEBASTOPOL - She was the only girl on a T-ball team in Forestville when it happened. The 8-year-old boy shoved the 8-year-old girl, knocking her off first base with this exit admonishment: “You’re stupid.” Those words, that shove, he might as well have used a megaphone and a bulldozer on Saja Spearman-Weaver.
“It made me angry,” Spearman-Weaver said. Eight-year-old anger, for most, comes and goes, replaced in an eye blink by the next immediate thing. Not this girl. Oh no. Saja is the offspring of Jason Weaver and Simone Spearman. They raised their daughter to think for herself. Stick up for yourself. Don’t whine. Don’t point fingers. Don’t ever accept being disrespected and devalued, especially because you’re a female.
“I have a mom who is a strong, empowered woman not known for being easily persuaded,” Spearman-Weaver said. “She knows what she wants and she doesn’t like people telling her what she should do.”
So now it’s seven years later and Spearman-Weaver is a freshman and making her first varsity appearance as a pitcher for Analy High School. The Tigers are in Eureka. It’s a playoff game. She throws a pitch and the batter sends a wicked line drive off the right side of Spearman-Weaver’s face. She hits the dirt, gets a mouthful. Blood splatters. Like she got shot by a sniper, that kind of image.
Nick Houtz, Analy’s coach and a Vietnam vet, grabs the ball for Spearman-Weaver. Thanks for your service. She grabs the ball back.
“My society expects me to stay down when I’m hit, preferably to stay out of dangerous situations, leaving the pursuit of conflict to my male counterparts. It’s a foul tendency. I snatched the ball from his weathered hand. I understood what it felt like to fight back.”
That’s part of the essay that Spearman-Weaver, now a senior and a month removed from her 18th birthday, recently sent to colleges as part of her application for admission. She has a 4-centimeter scar below her right ear as a reminder, although a picture of that was not sent as a dramatic accompaniment. She’s too busy living in the moment, confusing some, pleasing others.
The pleasing part is easy to describe and understand. She leads the SCL with a 13-1 record and a 1.22 earned-run average. She stands 6-foot-2. Her countenance is impressive without ever having to throw a pitch.
“You don’t have as much control of the game at the other positions,” she said.
She has a 4.17 grade-point average for her four Analy years, 4.33 in her junior and her senior years. She is taking six AP courses. She plays three varsity sports: softball, volleyball and basketball. She coaches young girls on how to play softball with confidence and pride, never to tolerate being treated disrespectfully.
“In the school calendar year,” she said, “I have six days in which I come home with nothing to do.”
Now comes the difficult part for some people.
Spearman-Weaver will not be playing college softball. Maybe club, rec league stuff. Maybe. Won’t even try to be a walk-on.
“I don’t want to make it my one thing,” she said. How can she not, is the assumption. When she’s this good, this smart, this responsible, this tenacious, how can she walk away? Doesn’t she enjoy the spotlight? Her ego has to feel the love, the adoration, being the center of attention. Right?