“Our slogan for athletics at UNC Asheville … is ‘Leaders in Life.’ So our students are not just leaders on the court – they’re leaders in the community,” Chancellor Mary Grant says in the accompanying video.
Grant shares a story about Klarissa “KJ” Weaver, a star player on the Bulldogs’ women’s basketball team, during the 2016 Big South Tournament at UNC Asheville.
Weaver wanted to act in a play before she graduated, and she found an emotional role in a TheatreUNCA production about the aftermath of the not-guilty verdicts in the 1992 Los Angeles police beating of Rodney King.
“She had a monologue – she had to dig deep,” Grant says.
The very next day, Grant watched Weaver perform again – this time on the court as the Bulldogs won the Big South Championship.
“I thought, where else, but at UNC Asheville, at this liberal-arts institution, in a championship season, would the coach support one of her star players being in a play, would the Theater faculty support this young woman to be practicing for the games? We had basketball players at the play; we had theater students at the game.
“She is a magnificent young woman, and what she does next, I can’t wait to see,” Grant says. “But for me, watching her perform one night, and the next morning – I thought, ‘This is as good as it gets.’”
Weaver’s parents are both deaf, and she grew up translating for them in sign language, even during parent-teacher conferences and doctor visits.
“She’s my hero – I just love her,” Grant says. “She’s going to go out and do powerful things in this world.”