Regis Jesuit’s Bo Weiss is the 2016 Dick Connor ACE Award winner
AURORA — “I didn’t know any better,” Bo Weiss said.
Only Bo knows until he shares it.
“Most people don’t really know until I tell them,” he said.
So not everyone can identify that the recent graduate of Regis Jesuit High School has a problem. He was born with a clubfoot that required surgeries and casting in the early years of his life, and still keeps him from running freely and moving laterally. Yet he arguably was Colorado’s best high school pitcher this spring, is headed to the University of North Carolina to play for the Tar Heels and was drafted by the New York Yankees.
The 2016 winner of The Denver Post’s Dick Connor ACE (Adversity Conquered through Excellence) Award didn’t lead a double life or hide a secret. It’s just that once people know what he endures, they’re practically floored that he’s still riding a wave of success on the diamond.
“You know, this is funny,” Regis Jesuit baseball coach Matt Darr said when asked about his star, a three-pitch pitcher who frequently reaches into 90 mph and beyond. “I’ve had this conversation with numerous scouts. They’d always ask if it was an issue or if it would hinder him. And I tell everyone that if I didn’t know it, I would have never guessed it.”
Weiss is the third of four sons of Rockies manager Walt Weiss, a former Regis Jesuit coach.
“Bo never looked at it like a disability,” his father said. “He played football and basketball. He never used it as a crutch or an excuse. Never. I mean never, not one time did we (Walt and his wife, Terri) hear him talking about his foot. We did, as parents, because we were trying to protect. But not him.”
The Raiders, who opened the 2016 season as Class 5A’s top team, finished 16-5 this year and were hugely disappointed after losing a district final to Cherry Creek. But Weiss certainly did his part. The right-hander was 7-1 with a 2.91 ERA. He gave up only 35 hits in 43 1/3 innings, struck out 61 and issued just 15 walks. Not bad for a 6-foot-3, 180-pounder who said his condition started “actually right out of the womb; my (right) foot basically was turned inward. My sole was facing my body.”
Weiss had two corrective surgeries, the first when he was 18 months old and the second when he was 5, in attempts to straighten the foot and release the Achilles tendon. He is missing a calf muscle.
“As far as structure,” he said, “nothing has been a limitation, but for sprinting and running distances there will be pain and inflammation.”
Weiss was a three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball, until his freshman year.
“My lateral movement wasn’t as good as it could have been,” he said. “Over time, basketball started to hurt, so did football. … Running up and down the court and jumping, I had to cut it out.”
Weiss turned to pitching in his sophomore year, as much for a talented right arm getting stronger as it was for a right foot that made doing most everything else athletically too taxing.
“It was definitely limiting as a kid,” Walt Weiss said. “But the silver lining is that he ended up on the mound because of it. When he was little, he pitched some, but he wanted to hit. But as he got older, and I know he loved the game and wanted to play after high school, with the limitations he had, his best shot was on the mound.”
Clemson-bound Travis Marr, Weiss’ longtime friend and Regis Jesuit teammate, smiles when asked how Weiss handles himself.
“I’ve seen him get surgeries over the years,” Marr said, “and he broke it running one time. And he still wants to play! As a teammate, that really makes me want to play behind him.”
Every now and then, Marr added, Weiss “will say something like, ‘My foot’s bugging me,’ but he never goes to the coaches. I don’t know too many people who can pitch like that. And some of the stuff he can do athletically … he can dunk a basketball and doesn’t even have a muscle there.”
“He’s one of the most humble kids I’ve coached for as talented as he was,” Darr said of Weiss, who finished with a 3.7 cumulative grade-point average. “He’s quiet, doesn’t really like the spotlight, but is a very intense competitor.
Weiss called his selection by the Yankees in the 29th round of the draft a courtesy pick, but there’s nothing questionable about his attitude toward the game. He said he wants to take baseball “as far as I can.”
But he also knows a career in baseball may not work out.
“It’s why I’m going to college,” he said.
Denver Post staff writer Nick Groke contributed to this report.
About the ACE Award
Former Denver Post sportswriter Dick Connor died in 1992 after an illustrious career. A longtime columnist, one of the few who hadn’t missed a Super Bowl, Connor took a personal interest in Colorado high school sports. Accordingly, The Denver Post offers the Dick Connor ACE (Adversity Conquered through Excellence) Award, which is presented annually to a high school senior who has overcome a handicap, hardship or tragedy to excel in sports. The winner must have exhibited courage, resolve, leadership and citizenship. This year’s winner, Regis Jesuit’s Bo Weiss, will receive a copy of Connor’s book of columns.
1993: Ashley Tindle, Heritage
1994: Amy Feinsinger, Glenwood Springs
1995: Kelley C. Roswell, Central (G.J.)
1996: Jason Salazar, Denver East
1997: Allie Gausman, Fort Collins
1998: Kelly Rheem, Arapahoe
1999: Girls soccer team, Columbine
2000: Jon Severy, Aspen
2001: Ian Grant, Denver Christian
2002: Philip Devlin, Idalia
2003: Jeff Mielnicki, Cherry Creek
2004: Daniel Belger, Bear Creek
2005: Daniel Steefel, Littleton
2006: Patty Turgeon, Mullen
2007: Jordan Kessler, Broomfield
2008: Jonny Stevens, Battle Mountain
2009: Jimmy Schweitzer, Loveland
2010: Tanner Nemkov, Heritage
2011: Brysen Daughton, Lyons
2012: Karina Ernst, Thompson Valley
2013: Zach Golditch, Gateway
2014: Trevor Encinias, Pueblo West
2015: Anthony Karmazyn, Eaglecrest
2016: Bo Weiss, Regis Jesuit
An open letter from Bo Weiss:
Whenever I have told anyone about my foot condition, their mind
inevitably goes to the limitations that must come with it.
However, I try to not take this perspective when looking at my
disability. There is so much that can be overcome, and that can be
beneficial to me and my growth. It has taught me to deal with
adversity at a young age, and many life lessons have come with
that teaching. My foot is an opportunity for growth in other areas of
my life. I may not be able to condition like others, or train in a
completely ideal manner, but I still find ways to make ends meet. This
is thanks to some incredible people in my life, such as my trainers,
my parents and my coaches. I would not be where I am without their
understanding and encouragement, for they have been a key element to
my success. The biggest thing for me is to focus on the things I am
capable of, and not dwell on the things of which I am limited. Overcoming my
clubfoot has more to do with my mind-set than anything else, and I
cannot thank the people in my life enough for their commitment to me,
and for giving me all the tools I need to be successful.