Darren Doyle, story and photos:
After teachers retire from their profession, many often stay away from students and school activities as they enjoy retirement, while a few find excuses to remain close to what they've done for many years. For the case of Bart Weaver, who retired after the last school year as a teacher with over 30 years of coaching experience, he was anxious to get back to doing what he does best: making a difference in the lives of young people.
Weaver was named Head Coach of ECHS Lady Cat Basketball today in a press conference at the high school. He thanked Principal Tommy Hodges and Athletic Director Kyle Pierce for their help and support over the years and especially his wife, Pat, who he said was a huge supporter in his decision to stay in coaching after retiring.
"I've coached for 30 years and I've coached just about every sport there is," he said. "I've been a head coach in a sport for 17-18 years and I never thought I'd want to be a head coach again, because I've had so much fun as an assistant, but looking at what we (Edmonson County) have coming back, even when we've lost a ton of scoring and rebounding, but we've got some really good girls back, and the character of these girls...that's the key."
Weaver has been a valued assistant for the boys basketball program under Mike McClintic for several years.
The bar for success for Lady Cat basketball has been set pretty high, coming off the best season in Lady Cat history. Kevin Jackson, who stepped down as head coach on April 29th, led the team to a 29-5 record last season, the best in the school's 44-year history. The team finished as District 12 Champions, Region 3 All-A Champions, and advanced to the final four of the Region 3 All-A State Classic. Their season ended in the second round of the Region 3 KHSAA tournament to Apollo.
"It's obviously going to be a challenge because we did lose a lot," said Weaver. "But I think these girls can be really good and I'm not sure if some of them know how good they really are because they've played smaller roles. They've got the potential, I think they'll work, and I'd like to win another district title."
Athletic Director Kyle Pierce said the school has made a great choice and he feels that Coach Weaver will likely be in this role for multiple years.
"When you can take a guy with 30 years of coaching experience that has coached all types of kids and athletes in multiple sports along with the experience of basically seeing everything that can be thrown at you; a guy with over a decade under his belt at Edmonson County and put him in a head coaching role, you can easily see he's done it for the kids," Pierce said. "He's obviously been a great friend to me, our school, our county, and most of all our kids, and we're very happy to have him as our new Lady Cat head coach."
Pierce said the connection Weaver has made with students at ECHS is a huge advantage for him in this role and he's looking forward to the impact he'll make.
"He's chosen to come back from retirement to remain here. This process couldn't have been easier. I know he's thought and prayed on this and when the job came open he expressed his interest in it. Things just seemed to work out well with everything."
Weaver said the one thing he wants players, parents, and fans to know about the new head coach is that he is putting the kids' best interests at heart.
"If I had to have one thing known first, especially for those that don't know me, I want people to know that," he said. "I want people to know that I truly care, I want to prove that, and I'll do the best of my ability to not only improve their basketball, but also to be there for them in any parts of their lives."
Weaver will keep Tyra Ballance as an assistant, who also coached middle school girls basketball, along with ECHS teacher Kevan Alford, who has most recently served as an ECHS softball assistant.
Coach Weaver said he's looking forward for being able to devote all his time to coaching now that he's retired from teaching.
"It's been one of my dreams to simply be able to coach and nothing else. I thank God for the opportunity because this dream has finally come true."