Janelle Weiss, from Salem, Oregon, is taking her talent to the next level. She played basketball for two high schools –West Salem High School (freshman and senior years), and Southridge High School (sophomore and junior years) – and went on to play two years at Chemeketa Community College. Now she’s earned a full athletic scholarship to play at the University of Idaho, a Division I school.

Janelle Weiss, daughter of Paul and Earleen, is a sophomore at Chemeketa. She helped the Storm advance to the NWAACC Championships in Kennewick, Washington. Last season at Chemeketa, she averaged 17.5 points, 4.1 assists, and 3.5 rebounds, and helped the team place fourth at the tournament. Janelle is 5’5” and plays the point-guard position. Her ball handling is automatic, and her passing ability is elite. Give her an inch and she’ll take it to the hole with her quickness, sag back and she can hit the three.

“She’s a proven winner who brought competitiveness and efficiency to practices and games, which rubbed off on our other kids,” said Chemeketa Head Coach, Jesse Ailstock.

She’s vocal on the court, and was named the 2011-2012 NWAACC Southern Region player of the year. That award goes along with the many others she’s received throughout her basketball career.

“In second grade she convinced us to let her play basketball by saying, ‘It’s no different than kids who take piano lessons … this is what I really want to do!’ Her love for the game is evident every time she steps on the court,” said her mom, Earleen.

What inspired you to become a basketball player? 

When I was little we lived in a small house. In front of our house my two older brothers, Eric and Steven, played basketball with the neighborhood kids. I watched them and became interested in the game. I picked up a basketball and started dribbling it. I discovered something I really liked. I kept practicing to get better at dribbling the ball. I started shooting the basketball repetitively to get better at making shots. It was mostly boys in the neighborhood – that motivated me even more to get better.

What kind of things have you done to improve your game? 

I like to think about what I can do to challenge myself. When I was younger I played with tournament teams and I practiced many hours. I’ve watched players like Kyle Singler, Chris Paul, and Michael Jordon. I picked up many skills by watching them. I have a set of dribbling drills that I do on my own – it’s helped. At night, I’d be in bed practicing my shooting form with the basketball – tossing it up, flipping my wrist and catching it as it came down. I even moved to a different town to play basketball for Southridge High – they were a great team and a challenge for me. I’ve always dreamed of playing Division I basketball – that kept me wanting to improve my game more. After high school, I had the opportunity to play at Oregon State University. But I chose to play at Chemeketa. This was an opportunity to develop my game more at the community college level. I had a great player-coach relationship with Jesse Ailstock, my coach. It was a great way to prepare for Division I basketball.

What obstacles have you faced throughout the years? 

Some of my coaches focused on just winning. They didn’t think about the player being a person. When stuff like that went on, I sometimes wondered if it was all worth it. But because I really wanted to reach my dream, I overcame this issue. I’m a competitive person that wants to have fun and wants to help other teammates get better. The mental aspect is a challenge for me.

It’s also difficult when a boyfriend or a friend doesn’t support the dream that I have – I love the game of basketball, and nothing will stop me from chasing my dream.

What has basketball taught you about life? 

How to work hard. If you don’t work hard at basketball, how are you going to work hard at life? Coach Michael Meek, from Southridge High, used to tell us that there’s a great lesson to be learned by earning an achievement – it applies to life in general. Basketball has taught me to be a leader – not just at the point-guard position. My basketball team is like a family, we all recognize our strengths and weaknesses – we trust each other. God gave me a gift that is allowing me to help my team – I won’t take that for granted. 

How have your parents been supportive throughout your basketball career? 

Both my parents have been supportive. My dad was more when I was younger. He pushed me to the highest level and wanted me to be better than good. My mom has always been there for me. She cares so much for me – would do anything for us kids. She attends all of my games and is always cheering for my team. Mom moved to Beaverton,  just so I could play basketball for Southridge High – a powerhouse at the time. She would drive all the way back to Salem everyday to give piano lessons. She moved back to Salem so I could join West Salem again my senior year. It worked out best for us. She has been a real blessing to me – definitely shows me her love. I’m so lucky to have a mom like her. 

What is your major in College? Include your GPA.  

My major is Sports Broadcasting. I would also like to study Sports Medicine or anything that has to do with sports. I think grades are priority – my GPA is 3.6.

What are your future plans, do you have a goal in mind? 

I would love to help the University of Idaho make it to the Women’s NCAA Tournament – March Madness. I’d like to help my teammates achieve their goals. I would love to try playing professional basketball overseas. When I’m done playing I’d love to become a sports broadcaster – I admire Erin Andrews, a famous broadcaster. And lastly, I would love to get married and have a family. I want to set a great example for my kids some day.