Rachel Weber will be leaving Lincoln East High School later this year with a boatload of softball honors, including first team Super-State laurels from the Lincoln Journal Star. She also received first-team honors in Class A from the Journal Star.

You can now add the Star City Sports Youth Athlete of the Year award to that list.

Given the legacy that the three-sport athlete has created at East High, it’s not surprising that she selected Missouri State University, a school rich in tradition, as the next destination for her softball future. She says she chose the NCAA Division I school in Springfield, Missouri because of its “great culture.”

She has certainly contributed to the culture and winning tradition in softball, basketball, and track and field at Lincoln East.

“I went to a softball camp there last summer and I liked the successful tradition they’ve built there,” she said in a recent phone interview. “I thought at the time that it’d be my future home.”

After a decade of playing in organized softball programs, the 6-foot-1 senior shortstop/center-fielder is ready for the next level. Team supporter

East High coaches and teammates will attest that the hardworking student-athlete is a team-first individual who simply makes their program better.

East High cross country/track and field coach Brian Kabourek, who nominated Weber for one of the two SCS awards and is her track coach, re-created a scene from a cross country meet last fall that speaks volumes of Weber’s character and team loyalty.

“Last fall - in the heart of softball season - during one of our big meets of the year at Pioneers Park, I look over and I see Rachel, and I’m thinking ‘What is she doing here?’ She said she was there to support her teammates … she was even wearing a Lincoln East cross country T-shirt she’d bought.”

Teammates, coaches and friends will tell you that that’s just Rachel being Rachel … someone who really cares about her teammates.

“That’s the magical glue that makes her fit into each and every team she is a part of,” said Kabourek, whom Weber lists as one of her top role models.

Late addition

Weber became a track runner two years ago, in her sophomore season – a decision she says she made “about twenty minutes before the first practice.” Kabourek has been forever grateful.

The smooth strider has gone on to earn two letters in track, contributing to the Spartans’ relay teams. Weber’s versatility has allowed Kabourek to experiment with her in two relays, including a 1,600-meter unit that has qualified for the state meet two years in a row.

She earned four letters in softball and is pursuing her third in basketball. The two-year starter is the Spartans’ starting center.

‘Puzzle piece’

Kabourek calls Weber a “puzzle piece … someone who rounds out every team she is on so nicely.”

Her high school softball coach, Lance Kingery, calls his versatile athlete “someone who can really play multiple positions.” No matter what spot she finds herself in the batting order, she produces. Her recruiters at Missouri State perceive her in much the same way.

“They told me I’ll play third base,” says the steady contact hitter, looking forward to the next step in her illustrious softball career. “I try to work daily on my hitting,” says Weber, who credits Omaha hitting instructor Rich Bernstein, the head instructor/manager of the West Omaha-based Hitters Choice workout facility, for helping her excel at the plate.

Her first taste of organized softball was as a member of the Nebraska Blue Diamonds 8-year-olds, and later with the Nebraska Gold team in Omaha.

Classroom leader

Weber’s excellence in athletics hasn’t come at the expense of neglecting her classroom work … quite the opposite. She is a four-time recipient of both the Academic All-Conference Award and the Lincoln Public Scholars Scholar Athlete Award, and has earned two Academic Letters at Lincoln East.

Weber said she plans to study physical therapy at Missouri State.

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