J.R. Weaver-LaMountain '89

 

Champion of the Underdog

J.R. Weaver-LaMountain ’89 works to help rehabilitate people with brain injuries. When it comes to overcoming challenges, he’s a good person to have on your side.

Born James Weaver, he was raised by his grandparents in Atlanta while his young mother, Rose Weaver, attended college and went on to establish what would be a successful acting career. She visited him regularly, and at 11 he moved with her to Providence, R.I., where he enrolled at the Moses Brown School. Summer camps and football dominated his time outside the classroom.

J.R. Weaver-LaMountain '89 at Champions
J.R. Weaver-LaMountain '89 at Champions

Although given many opportunities, still Weaver felt like an underdog while growing up. As an African-American student from a big public school, he felt out of place in Moses Brown’s prep school environment. At home he had to adjust to living with a mother whose career was blossoming.

But Weaver’s mother taught him about respect and dignity, and at school eventually he identified his talents, he said. “I was a tough sell in the beginning,” he said. “My teachers really worked hard to extract my strengths.”

At summer camp he was dubbed “J.R.” because his pitching style resembled that of Houston Astros’ pitcher J.R. Richard. Weaver altered his last name in high school when his new stepfather entered his life. “I asked him if I could take his last name,” he said. “I admired him that much.”

Energized, Weaver-LaMountain tackled his final two years at Moses Brown. He earned good grades and was All-New England in football. He had refined his strengths—and he headed for Colby.

Weaver-LaMountain wanted to study government and play football at Colby but his plans didn’t quite work out. He left the football team his first year, he said, when a coach told him his running style didn’t fit with Colby’s offense. The decision haunted him for years. And after a few internships he realized that his idea of becoming a lawyer wasn’t a good fit. Throughout he struggled, he said, as a minority who couldn’t play the role of a prep school alumnus.

Rugby saved Weaver-LaMountain at Colby, he said. He began playing his junior year and was a New England All Star as a senior. Weaver-LaMountain saw the team mature and become competitive and so wanted to ensure its upward momentum that he returned after graduation to coach the men’s and women’s teams for one year.

In 1997 a semi-pro football league formed in Maine. Weaver-LaMountain stopped playing rugby and signed up. Unable to ignore the opportunity to “exorcise some demons,” he played with the Central Maine Storm. “I was able to quench that thirst,” he said, noting that the team won the league championship three years in a row. “For the most part that case is closed.”

Weaver-LaMountain has stayed in central Maine and found his professional niche.
His first job was with Good Will-Hinckley, a residential school in Hinckley, Maine, where he advocated for disadvantaged youth and guided them to jobs or college. He went on to KidsPeace National Centers of New England where he worked on family preservation cases.

“Here I [was] without children helping people parent, but I learned from them,” he said. “I worked alongside them as a coach to help them stay together.”

Weaver-LaMountain currently works for the Maine Center for Integrated Rehab (MCIR), a facility in Fairfield that rehabilitates people with brain injuries. As the marketing and community relations coordinator, he tries to persuade doctors that MCIR is the best place for their patients. “I tell [the clients’] stories in doctors’ offices or through the media,” he said.

“They’re the ones doing the work. I just get to do the talking, and that’s incredibly gratifying.”

Why stay in Waterville?

“Why not?” says Weaver-LaMountain, who savors the small-town connections, plays on a rugby team, and works out at Champions Fitness Club. And every year for his mother’s birthday he sends Maine lobster. “For now, this is absolutely the best fit,” he said. “I’ve come full circle.”

—Laura Meader