I originally wrote this one for the newspaper but it was just too much for them to handle as a single story. It is really three or four stories in one. Jon Weston had an amazing lacrosse career, he was a technology innovator who helped lay the first tracks for what would one day become The Internet, and his retirement includes both major weight loss and a new business here in Georgetown...
Jon Weston has had a lifelong love affair with lacrosse.
While still in high school, Mr Weston built a wind tunnel in his basement to do research on the aerodynamics of ground effects. At that time, the army was trying to figure out how to make helicopter blades quieter. His home-based experiments won one of the army’s highest academic awards, which led to a Maryland State Senatorial Scholarship, which in turn led Mr Weston to John Hopkins University. There he got hooked on the intensity of lacrosse and played on various teams throughout his college years.
Native Americans invented lacrosse almost a thousand years ago. It was a form of symbolic warfare for them. They called it “the creator’s game”. In a two-to-three-day marathon match, up to a thousand warriors might play on a mile-long field from sunup to sundown. Winners brought glory and honor to themselves and their tribes.
Today, lacrosse is Canada’s national sport. It spread from Canada into the Northeastern US, then into the Carolinas and even to Colorado. Lacrosse is now a Big Ten college sport.
Anyone who has been to a modern lacrosse game knows that the spirit of combat is still alive and well. Mr Weston said it is a common joke among players that, “Lacrosse is a game where you can beat on someone with a big stick, but you don’t go to jail.”
Lacrosse is also a very fluid game. Mr Weston said, “I can’t remember, in my 50+ lacrosse years, two lacrosse games being much alike.”
Weighing 250 pounds, or being over six feet tall are actually drawbacks in lacrosse. It is a fast-moving game of throws, catches, plus lightning strikes at a hockey sized goalie net that favors agile, team-oriented speedsters. An active scoring, audience engaging sport, lacrosse elicits as much emotion from a stadium full of spectators as any UT football game. Mr Weston said, “The only sports that make money in their NCAA championships are football and lacrosse.”
Lacrosse is perhaps more like soccer on steroids than football, but lacrosse’s top players evidence the same kind of fierce loyalty for their game seen in players of other intense sports. The ball is hard, a helmet is a player’s only real protection, and they sprint full out, mostly in lock step with the opposing team, sticks actively extending the effectiveness of both offense and defense for sixty fast paced, grueling minutes.
Mr Weston spent nine years (1989-1998) as the lacrosse coach at Magruder High School, where his teams always had a winning record, including two county championships. He also spent seven years at Towson University, where he gained the title “The Goalieman”, producing two All-American goalies, while helping guide the team to the NCAA semifinals in 2001.
Mr Weston was one of the organizers of and goalie for the first age 45+ USA team at the Lacrosse World Games in 1998. In 2014, he played in those same games in the over 60 division. His team’s slogan was, “Play until you can’t”.
Mr Weston wrote the definitive book on goalies, “Lacrosse Goaltending II”, invented the “no rebound” goalie stick, and engineered a line of tensioned, high pocket sticks. His sticks are still considered by many high-performance players to be the most accurate, best catching and throwing sticks for lacrosse. He continues to contribute to the game through video and private instruction.
It was Mr Weston’s extraordinary programming background that allowed him to co-create the first “Moneyball” system for lacrosse. The same as for baseball, it used statistical analysis to track and improve players performance.
It was in college, where Mr Weston was a volunteer operator for the school’s computer center, that he found he had a real affinity for programming. Programming was a relatively new discipline needed for the big magnetic tape driven mainframes of that day. He ended up teaching programming to the other students until he graduated in 1968, with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
After graduation, Mr Weston went to work for General Electric on what were then, bleeding-edge computer projects. The time share products he helped develop eerily foreshadowed today’s services-based enterprise environments. “High Availability”, “Clustering”, and “Virtualization” were all born in the GE “Information Services” division he helped grow during the 70s.
In 1981, Mr Weston became the Operations Director for Telnet, which today is Sprintnet. He ran product planning for the first real national network. Using a precursor of the modern Internet Protocol, he helped create products that enabled computers to talk to each other over distances.
After that, Mr Weston became involved in a number of startup projects for various companies where he says, “I had a lot of fun with some pretty unique challenges”. His projects included helping IBM computers communicate with each other over the military’s new DARPAnet, the forerunner of today’s Internet.
After that he got involved in all kinds of technical consulting for the government, private corporations, and even “disadvantaged” small businesses. Mr Weston helped standardize Department of the Interior leases of oil rights in the Gulf of Mexico. He also helped design and implement the Army’s first “just in time” Standard Acquisition and Contracting System, which ended up saving the army millions every year.
In 1993, Mr Weston became the VP of Solution Architecture for CACI, a unique company that focuses on improving government services and enhancing military efficiencies. CACI grew from 3,500 to 17,000 employees during his 25 years there, while he continued to spearhead interesting projects, like modernizing an outdated South Carolina DMV in the 1990s and updating the US Air Force computer systems to help manage their bases nationwide. Mr Weston finally retired in August of this year, at 71 years of age.
In December of 2014, Mr Weston and his wife Karen moved from Maryland to Georgetown, Texas. Their two boys are in the Austin area with their families. A swimming pool for the grandkids was the one non-negotiable requirement of their new home search and those grandchildren are now a permanent fixture at the Weston’s home during summer weekends.
When the coach for Southwestern University found out Mr Weston had moved to Georgetown, he immediately recruited him. Mr Weston helped with their lacrosse program for the next three years.
A couple years ago, his daughter-in-law, Michelle Weston, who runs a successful acupuncture and herbalist clinic in South Austin, talked him into taking on a specific weight loss strategy.
Mr Weston completely got rid of all sugars, no matter whether artificial or natural, eliminated dairy, carbs and anything fried, consumed three small vegetable-oriented meals, and drank a minimum of 60 ounces of water. He also added an exercise program meant to keep his heart rate elevated and his cardiovascular system working efficiently. It included runs and bike rides. A tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in eight ounces of water at 8pm every night, with no food after, was his key metabolism improvement trick. Mr Weston lost over eighty pounds, going from 268 pounds down to 186 pounds.
When Mr Weston was a young man, he repaired lawn mowers to help put himself through school. Never one to sit still, he revived that early passion immediately after he retired, starting Weston Refurb to buy, refurbish, and sell used lawn mowers. He has already purchased over 150 lawn mowers of all types and was delighted to discuss how he found them, as well as details of his repairs, which were obviously done with an eye to selling quality products. Mr Weston even puts a 90-day warranty on each used lawn mower he sells.
When asked why he wanted to start such a new and different venture at his age, Mr Weston said, “I’m having a lot of fun meeting and helping both my buyers and sellers. Besides, when you’ve been solving problems all your life, then you don’t have any problems to solve, you have to find something new to focus on.”
I would be remiss if I did not include his contact info for lawn mower deal hunters:
Jon Weston – 443-418-5613
PS. I dearly love seeing comments from my readers. : )