Darren Doyle, story: Madison Doyle, photos:
Edmonson County Lady Cat Head Basketball Coach Bart Weaver officially stepped down from his post on Monday.
His 36-year career in coaching covers many bases, fields, and courts, and Weaver said the decision to leave was filled with a range of emotions.
"I told my team through the tears that I've always believed in finding the positive in anything and I told them that while there's a part of me that wants to stay for them, it's time," he said. "The positives are that I can be a full time Pappy. I have a 7-year old granddaughter who's athletic and I look forward to maybe spending time on a t-ball field. I've also got a 5-year old special-needs grandchild and one that could be born any minute. My granddaughter cried happy tears when I told her I was going to be able to spend more time with her."
Weaver started coaching right out of college, taking the helm of a tennis team. He then coached baseball, football, and basketball, and he said any success he or his players/students ever had was because of relationships he built with them.
"I've been around this my whole life. My dad was a great educator, coach, principal, and eventually a superintendent. One of the things I got from him was how he built relationships. Building those relationships with kids was always my philosophy. I heard probably 20 or 30 years ago from somebody that you first have to capture kids and then inspire them. I've been so blessed with good kids and good relationships."
Weaver became the head coach for the Lady Cats in 2018, just after his retirement from a 30-year teaching career. The team had lost a host of seniors and two of the top 5 scorers in Lady Cat history.
"I guess some people thought I was crazy because with coaching a new team, it's all about what you inherit," he said. "But even though the team was losing a lot, I'd had every one of those girls in class and I knew their character. I'd already built relationships with them, and keeping up with their sports, I knew what they could do."
Turns out, he wasn't crazy and he knew exactly what the girls could do. They finished 24-8 and repeated as district champions.
ECHS Principal Jonathan Williams discussed the impressive resume that Weaver compiled during the 15 years he spent at Edmonson County as teacher and coach.
"He’s been part of two All A Regional championships, a boys' district championship and three as girls' head coach. That’s quiet a resume," he said. "When coach Weaver and I met on Monday, he assured me he would be around anytime we needed him to and I asked him to please come back early next season so we could formerly honor him. I want to congratulate Coach Weaver on a great run. We appreciate what he has accomplished."
Superintendent Brian Alexander also reflected on the Weaver's success in Edmonson County.
"He has been a positive impact on countless young people in Edmonson County," he said. "I appreciate him coming to Edmonson County years ago and cannot thank him enough for his years of service with Edmonson County Schools. He will be missed."
Alexander said he discussed a plan to hire a replacement with school personnel yesterday. Williams said he would be forming a committee to help navigate the hiring process.
"We will take our time with applicants as they come in," Williams said.
Weaver also made special mention of the Edmonson Voice and the sports coverage it provides.
"I want this in the article, and I mean it," he said. "I love the Edmonson Voice and what it's meant to our players, our program, and our community. Sometimes I think it's overlooked, but I've been at schools where there was nothing like this and it means a lot. I want to thank you guys for what you do."
Weaver said the past 15 years in Edmonson County have been the best of his professional life.
"And it's not even close. People here accepted me. Once they saw my relationships with their kids they adopted me in. I feel like I AM from Edmonson County even though I'm not. This is my hometown, man. It's been great and I have nothing but great things to say about this place."
Weaver was another coach with an open-door policy with the Voice. He allowed us in the gym, in his office, and anywhere else we needed him. He always answered or returned calls and texts and was eager to give post game interviews every game, even when it was inconvenient.
He finishes with a head coaching record of 83-62 for the Lady Cats (.747), three district titles, and two All A Region 3 runners-up.
He said he has no plans of coaching again unless it's with grandkids on a t-ball field.
"That's the plan anyway, but you never say never. I just want to be there for my grandkids and for my wife. I feel fulfilled now," he said.
At each graduation, there was always a line of seniors waiting to have their photo taken with Bart Weaver, both those that were athletes and those that were not. It was always a reflection of the impact one person could have when good relationships were built.
Edmonson Voice Sports:
ECHS Varsity Softball pitcher, fresh off of her 12 inning performance in the regional tournament, went with her travel softball team, WK Wildfire, to Newburgh, IN to compete this last weekend. WK Wildfire is a team made up of players from Edmonson, Ohio, Logan, and Muhlenberg in Kentucky and Clarksville, TN. Wildfire is a 16u team playing in the 18u or High School division against some teams that have graduated seniors on them.
Wildfire ended up winning a rain shortened two day tournament after strong hitting from every player and Julie Norris pitching two complete games of the five, time-limited games.
Norris finished the tournament with 5 Ks in 9 total innings, allowing only 1 ER for the tournament for an ERA of .778. Both of her games were wins. Wildfire was the only team in the tournament bracket that was undefeated in tournament play when the storms opened up and ruined the fields. When it was determined that the tournament couldn't continue, Wildfire was awarded the championship for the Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois tournament.
Wildfire plays next weekend in Greenville, KY and will be taking ECHS freshman Kylee Williams to play with them. If you want to find out more about WK Wildfire or follow Julie, WK Wildfire is located on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/wkwildfire
Edmonson Voice Report:
For the second year in a row, ECHS freshman Brayden Johnson competed at the KHSAA Tennis State Tournament at Top Seed in Lexington. This year, Brayden advanced to state as the 3rd region runner-up. On Tuesday, Brayden defeated Colton Ralston - a senior from Lincoln County - 6-4, 6-1 to advance to the second round of the top 32 players. Brayden was then faced with the number four ranked player in Kentucky, Alden Johnson, a junior from Ashland Blazer, whose UTR ranking is 10.17. Brayden managed to win four games over Johnson in a 90 minute battle, losing 2-6, 2-6.
“I do my very best to present Brayden with training opportunities year-round to enable him to compete at this high level," said Head Coach Jodi Johnson. "He plays weekly against Bowling Green, South Warren, and Greenwood’s top players. At the state level, it is often difficult for small county schools to compete with the Louisville and Lexington elite private schools—but we don’t make excuses. They may have more advantages, but they won’t outwork Brayden. He has played tennis less than three years, and his athleticism and determination have him right in the mix. Thank you to our EC schools and community for your encouragement and support of our tennis program."
Edmonson Voice Sports:
The ECHS Archery Team completed their season at the NASP Eastern National Tournament on May 12, 2023. The team shot 3200 at the National Tournament which is above their season average of 3188. Corissa Jaggers shot a 50 (perfect round) at the tournament. A pin is usually given when an archer shoots a 50 in a round. At this tournament, no pin was awarded. The team coaches presented Corissa with an American Flag lapel pin to recognize her achievement.
"All of the coaches are extremely proud of the team," said Coach Joy Curtis. "Their hard work and dedication this season showed by qualifying for the National Tournament."
The ECMS and ECHS Archery Team celebrated a season of growth at the annual banquet on May 21.
This season, KHSAA held the first Annual All A Regional and State Tournaments. The High School Team was named Region 3 All A Champions and competed in the All A State Tournament. Hunter Masterson shot a 50 at the All A Tournament. The coaches presented him with an ‘A’ lapel pin to recognize his achievement.
The following awards were presented to the archers: Most Improved New Female Archer – Mackenzie Wilkerson, Most Improved New Male Archer – Andew Coy, Most Resilient – Lucas Jones (switched from right handed to left handed bow and improved his score), Top Middle School Female – Laynee Meredith, Top Middle School Male – Jayden Jones, Top High School Female – Corissa Jaggers, Top High School Male – Hunter Masterson, Archery Scholarship – Carlie Johnson.
The following seniors were recognized for their time with the archery program: Ethan Arredondo – 6 years, Taylor Atwell – 6 years, Haydn Burrell – 6 years, Carlie Johnson – 4 years, Hunter Masterson – 6 years, Erica McGrew – 6 years
The coaches (Joy Curtis, Derek Curtis, Glendale Meredith, Crystal Higgins, Larry Higgins) said that they are proud of the team and all of their accomplishments this season, and that they are looking forward to next season and more expected growth.