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Waterford - Janet Weiss knew she was having twins, a third faint heartbeat not immediately believed by doctors to be a third child.
"The next time she went in, there was one, two, three. They were not expecting it," Waterford High School junior Jodi Weiss said of the circumstances surrounding her birth. "I'm the youngest. It was Jake, then Jared, then I was last; I was stuck under her rib.
"We're basically one. We don't always think the same way every time, but we were taught to care for each other. Sometimes I'm like, 'Well, you should know what I'm thinking.' They're my best friends. My family are the people I hang out with. We all stick up for each other. We're always supporting each other."
Jodi Weiss is the shortstop and co-captain for the defending Class M champion Waterford softball team. Starting at the varsity level for the first time last year, she was 3-for-3 with a solo home run in her debut, then went 4-for-6 in her next game, settling into the No. 3 slot in the lineup which she still occupies.
She is also one of a set of triplets and one of four children overall in her family along with older sister Julie.
Jake and Jared used to wrestle and Jake is currently on the Lancers' track team, but Jodi is the one with the devotion to athletics. Her teammates call her "Jodi Softball," a play on the nickname "Johnny Football," belonging to Texas A&M star quarterback Johnny Manziel. In addition, she was the goalie last season for the field hockey team.
It is perhaps her involvement with everything other than sports, however, that draws admiration from those who know her best.
"I'll drive out some days and she's working with the garden club. She's on the interview committee for the new assistant principal. She's the go-to person for the school," Waterford softball coach Liz Sutman said. "Jodi is definitely exceptional."
"The thing I would admire is she has drive unlike other people that I've seen," Jared Weiss said. "She's so motivated to do so many things, volunteering with all these different events, captain of the softball team. She has an unbelievable drive that I rarely see in people, just this motivation that doesn't stop. If something happens, she's there doing it. Sometimes I think she's doing a little too much."
Part of what drives the 17-year-old Weiss is her will to help other people.
When Jared suffered seizures for a time as a young boy, Jodi was at his side. Her ultimate goal is to become a pediatric oncologist.
Another motivating factor is a phrase passed down from her late grandfather, Donald Daren of New London, who was fond of the saying, "Life is not a dress rehearsal. It's the main event." Daren died in February.
"I got to learn more about him," Weiss said. "It's my quote now. To me it means this is the main event: don't waste a second of it."
Jodi calls Jake a computer whiz; he enjoys figuring out how computer programs and games are written. Meanwhile, she envies Jared's penchant for math and his mechanical ability, if not the way he likes to get up at 4 a.m. and noisily do sit-ups and pull-ups.
Jared, who manages the field hockey and girls' basketball teams at Waterford, said one of the things he enjoys most about his relationship with Jodi is the times they talk things over in the evening, rehashing the events of the day.
"She's always looked out for me. She's outgoing. She's a supportive sister. Whatever she does, she gives it her all," Jared said. "I think she'll be successful in whatever she picks."
"My mom and dad really shaped how we were going to be growing up," Jake said. "How we should treat people. ... It's great having a sister. She's the only girl (among the triplets), but she still holds in there. She doesn't back down. She brings us together."
• • •
Weiss suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during the fall of her freshman year while playing field hockey.
"My first thought was, 'Oh my God. I can't play softball,'" she said. "They carried me off and it didn't hurt or anything, but I was thinking to myself, 'How long until spring?'"
Weiss returned sooner than the normal six-month recovery period for an ACL and served as the junior varsity shortstop as a freshman. She was called up to the varsity for the state tournament, a team which featured Gatorade Connecticut Softball Player of the Year Kelli Connors, the Lancers' pitcher, and all-state shortstop Alyssa Hancock.
"They went to the Little League World Series (in 2007) and that was my dream. I was amazed by them," Weiss said. "People would ask how it was being with the varsity. 'Amazing.' But you didn't play. 'Still amazing.'"
Sutman said that by making Weiss a captain this year as a junior it was like having an extra coach on the field because of the care her shortstop takes in every drill. She said that even last year, as a sophomore, Weiss was a role model to the freshmen on the team because of her tireless work ethic.
The Lancers are now 5-4 overall, 2-1 in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Medium Division heading into Medium Division matchups today at Plainfield, Tuesday at Killingly and Wednesday at first-place Stonington.
The Lancers lost to Stonington the first time they met, 4-2, dropping them to 1-3 at the time. They followed that with a four-game winning streak, however, and at a recent workout the Waterford players wore matching practice shirts with the playful phrase "***Flawless," the name of a Beyonce song and also a quality to which the Lancers aspire.
"It's the little things that motivate us. Our motto this year is 'just say yes.' Yes to everything," Weiss said. "Nothing negative. We have so much potential."
Weiss believes it was her injury as a freshman that helped her gain perspective and appreciate everything Waterford High School had to offer for herself and for her brothers.
"It sounds funny, but I tell people I'm glad that it happened," Weiss said. "It made me stop and fix things. Work on myself. It helped me as an athlete. When I first got to high school I was very nervous, very shy. I didn't say anything on the field. ... I like getting older and knowing what things are."
"We've all found our little place that we do things. We all have our groups of friends," Jake Weiss said of the trio of siblings. "I think it's really good. We're all good at something. But we spend a lot of time together. We always make sure we do things together. Family's such a huge aspect."