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.