Brad Weathers coached boys basketball for 31 years at Carlyle and Nashville high schools, compiling a 571-360 record.
But Weathers, who this week retired as Nashville’s coach after eight seasons, will miss much more than the victories.
“It’s the relationships you build over the years, the friendships made,” said Weathers, 63, a graduate of Benton High and then-McKendree College. “I run into players, coaches, officials, people like that, and there are great memories. It’s a fraternity. And it’s the camaraderie with the kids.
“Any time you’re in coaching very long, you have those exceedingly highs and those exceedingly lows. You’re always on a roller coaster. Those lower ends take a lot longer to get through. But still, in the long term, those lasting friendships from over the years, even with those friendly rivals, are special.”
Weathers said the time was right for him to leave coaching.
“I’ve been thinking about it the last couple of years,” he said. “Then about January of this year, halfway through the season, I had a couple of minor health issues that kind of made me say, ‘Hey.’ My wife (Cindi) was ready, too. I didn’t overly want to get out of it, but I knew I needed to step back a little bit.
“I’m ready for a little slower pace. I’ve got two grandsons here in (Nashville), and my wife’s been retired for three years.”
Weathers coached 23 seasons at Carlyle, where he was 391-288 from 1981-2004 and won a Class A state championship in 1989. He became principal at Nashville in 2004, one year before being inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
When Darin Lee took the coaching position at Collinsville in the summer of 2009, Weathers slid into the vacancy at Nashville and guided the Hornets to a 180-72 record that included four regional championships and a second-place finish at the Class 2A state tournament in 2014.
Weathers, who still works part-time for the Regional Office of Education No. 13, said any of his assistants at Nashville could take over as the Hornets’ new coach.
“We’ve got a great coaching staff here,” Weathers said. “One of these guys here on staff will probably take it and do a great job. Jason Guest is our JV coach, Patrick Weathers (Brad’s son) is our sophomore coach, Kelly Cruser is a volunteer assistant and Wayne Harre was our freshman coach this year. Any of those guys would do a great job.”
A special season
Weathers broke into coaching in 1981 with the Carlyle Indians. Until 1986, Weathers’ fifth season, the Indians had never won a regional championship.
“That’s when Phil Kunz played,” Weathers said of the talented post player who went on to play at Iowa State. “It was good to be part of that.”
Carlyle won another regional in 1988, but the breakthrough season was 1988-89. That’s when the Indians, powered by future University of Illinois forward Tom Michael, finished 32-3 and won the state tournament at Assembly Hall in Champaign.
“That ‘89 team with Tom Michael, Jason Peters, Scott Horner, Steve Hoffmann and Eddie Huels, that was a talented and special group,” Weathers said. “Not only talented, but extremely coachable.”
Carlyle defeated Norris City 63-58 in the Carbondale Super-Sectional, then romped past North Greene 67-46 in the state quarterfinals.
In the semifinals, Michael erupted for 45 points in a 67-62 triumph over Prairie Central, then bounced Rock Island Alleman 65-56 for the title.
“The semifinal game was probably the state-championship game against Prairie Central,” Weathers said, recalling Michael’s heroics. “That was a great game. Not that Rock Island (was a slouch). We won that game by nine and actually had a bigger lead. But the Prairie Central game was down to the wire.”
Weathers didn’t think about it at the time, but reflected Friday on how meaningful it was to take the championship.
“My parents got to see that. They were still alive in ‘89,” he said. “My youngest daughter (Holly) wasn’t born yet, my son (Patrick) was still at home, less than a year old. Lindsay was 3 years old and running around, but probably doesn’t remember much about it.”
Weathers said it wasn’t always about the superstar teams.
“I’ve been blessed with some great players,” he said. “I’m also exceptionally proud of some of our lesser-talented teams that overachieved. Those were fun groups to work with.”