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Road to redemption: Eastside Catholic's Tyson Weaver turning online taunts into insatiable motivation

WSU commit endured 'rough patch' of nasty criticism after near-interception instead turned into Yelm's winning touchdown at end of last year's Class 3A title game
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SAMMAMISH, Wash. – If any fan or attention-seeking troll has sent an unflattering critique of Tyson Weaver’s final play of last year's WIAA championship game on any social-media platform, the Eastside Catholic senior football player has likely saved it for motivation.

Weaver, the 6-foot-2, 195-pound cornerback and wide receiver, reviews those public posts and private messages prior to each game this season. He doesn’t shy away from the brutality, mirroring the way he plays football.

The Washington State University commit, who likely will play cornerback at the next level, has been known to study those not-so-rave reviews on the bus ride or in the locker room before game time.

Weaver has turned his most unfortunate moment in a Crusaders uniform - he had a would-be game-sealing interception yanked out of his grasp by Yelm standout Kyler Ronquillo, who scored the winning 54-yard touchdown in the Tornados' 20-13 victory - into an exercise of mental strength and positive growth.

“One big thing in my life that my father (Adrian) has always taught me was to take responsibility,” said Weaver, arguably the top two-way skill-position player in the 3A Metro League.

"When I came off (the field) to the sideline, the first thing was, 'That’s on me.’ And, I’m going to take that to the heart. What hurt so bad was all the blood, sweat and tears that we put into practice. Man, just to come up that short was tough.”

That moment, which received national attention, could’ve crushed a weaker competitor, much less the most resolved athlete. But it didn’t take out Weaver.

Even when all the cruel, unforgiving online taunts from strangers tried to.

“Anything you can think of was in my inbox,” said the 18-year-old Weaver. "I could’ve either shut it down and not allowed those messages to come through at all or I could’ve took ‘em. For me personally, what I think people don’t know about me is that I feed off those things."

That's not to say the ill treatment didn't have an impact. He admitted he endured a "rough patch" in the weeks after the Class 3A championship game in Puyallup.

"The worst that was said to me was probably, ‘You’re not going to be anything, you’re not going to make it, you’re never going to play again, you’re never going to see the field,’” he said of taunts on Twitter, Instagram and various other social media platforms. “I saw all of it. What I really did was I liked the comments (on public posts). I didn’t comment.

"There was a decent amount of positivity that came in, too. This has shaped me for the better. Because without that play, I wouldn’t have felt something so deep, so hard that I had to bounce back from it. It was a test of how bad you really want it.”

To help push the live-play moment behind him, Weaver said he studied how former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson handled his most difficult career moment - throwing a goal-line interception at the end of the Super Bowl in 2015 against the New England Patriots.

"And look at him now," Weaver said. "You can't go back and dwell on those things. I move forward."

Indeed, he has done that, using the biting remarks from others as fuel.

2022 Washington high school football: Eastside Catholic at Garfield (Tyson Weaver, Eastside Catholic, class of 2024)

"My heart broke for him in terms of what he had to deal with on social media. That’s unfortunate, but it’s kind of the world we live in right now," Eastside Catholic coach Dominic Daste said. "But I do think it’s made him a stronger human, a stronger person in terms of character."

This fall, Weaver has given the Crusaders a lot of versatility on defense, being a big, strong cornerback who can help shut down a passing team or making physical plays in the running game.

And playing more on offense this season than earlier in his career, Weaver - a three-year starter - has provided 10 catches for 403 yards (40.3 yards per catch) and three touchdowns.

“I don’t think he’s scratched the surface of what he can become,” Daste said.

The Crusaders are vying for the school’s fifth state title this fall - and Weaver is a big part of that realistic pursuit.

“I’m playing my heart out now and this is what I love to do,” Weaver said.

And Weaver would love another shot on the big stage.