After officially announcing her retirement at last week’s team banquet, next summer and fall is going to feel a bit weird for longtime North Cobb softball coach Jo Beth Weaver.
For the first time in 23 years, Weaver will not be running camps or conducting practices, coaching third base or putting together scouting reports for her players at North Cobb. What she said she will miss the most is prepping the field for each home game, a job she took great pride in.
“I’m sure something is going to feel weird then,” Weaver said in looking forward. “(Fixing) the field? OK, I don’t have to do that. I guess I’ll just go fishing.”
Weaver may be basking in the Sunshine State once the next season gets underway. Salt-water fishing off the Florida coast is a big hobby of Weaver’s, along with boating, kayaking and gardening. She is an avid reader as well.
The extra free time will also allow Weaver more time with family, and she is likely to make frequent trips to her native Moultrie in south Georgia.
“I’m looking forward to life after being a head coach for, how many years?” Weaver said. “I get to spend more time with mom. I get to go down to Florida and do some fishing. We have a boat down there. I’m looking to doing that. We’ll just see what (retirement) is like, I guess.”
Weaver grew up an athlete, playing softball, basketball and tennis. She went on to play college basketball for three years at Georgia under legendary Lady Bulldogs coach Andy Landers, and she was inducted to the Colquitt County Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.
Weaver made a career out of coaching softball, basketball, track and field and tennis during a 35-year teaching and coaching career at North Fulton, North Atlanta and North Cobb. She was also North Cobb’s first girls lacrosse coach when the program was launched in 2008.
Weaver finished her softball coaching career with a 502-347 record, which includes her six-year stint at North Fulton, which became North Atlanta during her tenure.
Most, however, will remember Weaver her for her success and longevity with North Cobb softball.
“She’s a fantastic person,” North Cobb athletic director Matt Williams said. “She’s been a part of the North Cobb, Kennesaw, Acworth community for, well, I’ve been here 21 years and she was here before I was. She’s who you think of when you think about North Cobb softball.
Fast-pitch softball was still in its infancy stage when Weaver started at North Cobb in 1997, and the players she inherited were not used to the change of pace and the change of rules from the slow-pitch variety.
For starters, Weaver had to teach the players to steal bases, work with them on shortening their swings and identifying the different pitches used in the fast-pitch game.
When Weaver took over, North Cobb did not have a field on campus. The Lady Warriors played their home games at Kennworth Park until their own field was completed in 1999.
When the 2000 season rolled around, North Cobb had a breakout year with 20 victories, led by future college players Jennifer Hill (Kennesaw State) and Leigh Wintter (Marshall).
Weaver only took North Cobb to Columbus for the final state of state tournament once in 2011, but the Lady Warriors knocked on the door several times. She took the program to the playoffs six straight years from 2013-18.
“It’s fun to play her because she’s always going to make it interesting,” said Lisa Chapman, who has been Kennesaw Mountain's coach since launching the program in 2000. “She’s passionate about what she does. I am, too. She’s done a lot for our program and community. Our girls know they will give us a good game, and it’s always fun competition.”
The last time North Cobb came close to making another Columbus trip came in 2016 after the team was hit hard to graduation from the previous season. The Lady Warriors upset Region 3AAAAAAA North Paulding for a spot in the state tournament, then beat Colquitt County -- Weaver’s alma mater -- in the first round before falling to Parkview in the round of 16.
Weaver also coached 52 players who went on to play college softball.