NCHS Head Boys Basketball Coach Brad Weathers, LEFT, with members of his coaching staff including Jason Guest, Patrick Weathers, and Kelly Cruser.
By Brent Huelsmann
After 31 years on the bench, Brad Weathers is calling it a career. A coaching resume that featured with 571 victories, 180 of which came at Nashville Community High School. Weathers took over at NCHS after Darin Lee left in before the 2009-10 season.
This season was the eighth year for Weathers as the head coach of the Hornets, and Weathers said he’s been thinking about retiring for a while. “I’ve been thinking about when it was going to be over, the last couple of years, and this year when you’ve been doing it a long time, change is hard. About January, when I started having some minor health issues, my wife and I kind of knew it was going to be it.”
As for what comes next for Weathers, he said, “Looking for a little bit of a slower pace. I’ve got two grandkids here in town, and I’m looking to spend some more time with them, and with family. My family has grown up in a gym, that is going to be different, but at least I’ll actually have some more time face to face with them. My wife has been at my side all of these years, even at the fundraising aspect, the sport aspect, the highs and lows. The really good times, and the times where she’s hearing things in the stands that you wish she wouldn’t hear. My son has been there at my side the last eight years and that has been really special for me.”
Weathers began his career at Carlyle High School before the 1981-82 season and coached the Indians for 23 years. While at Carlyle, Weathers won the Wesclin Tournament three times, the Mater Dei Holiday Tournament three times, the Benton Tournament twice, The Kaskaskian Classic three times, to go along with eight conference championships. His best season at the helm of the Indians came in the 1988-89 season. The Carlyle Indians finished the season 32-3 and won the IHSA Class A State Championship.
Weathers left coaching and Carlyle High School in 2004 to become principal at Nashville High School. Although Weathers did not come to Nashville to coach, Weathers found himself back on the bench, at first a volunteer assistant under Lee, and then as Head Coach after Lee took the head coaching job at Collinsville. “I thought I was done, when I made a career move to come down here and become principal. This is one of the few places I would have moved, otherwise at Carlyle, I would have retired there. Good community and good school there. Here in Nashville, good school system, a great situation, and that’s the reason I applied and was fortunate enough to get the job. I gave up coaching at that time. Later on during my third year, I offered my services to Coach Lee if he wanted them and just to come and help at practice when I could, and sit on the bench things like that. We were good friends, coached against each other for a long time. He said sure come on, and we had a great time, a lot of great experiences there. Then he left, and all of the sudden I’m back in the game. Some things you don’t plan, but I certainly have enjoyed it.”
While at NCHS, Weathers added to his illustrious career. Weathers went 180-72 as the head coach of Nashville, and leaves the Hornets as the third all-time winningest coach, behind Lee, and George Havens.
Weathers led the Hornets to a runner up finish in Class AA in 2014, as well as five conference championships. The Hornets won the Mater Dei Tournament in 2014, the Lebanon/Wesclin Tournament in 2010 and 2016, and the Nashville Invitational Tournament in 2015 under Weathers. The Hornets also won Regional Championships and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in Class AA in 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017.
When reflecting on his career on the bench, Weathers
talked about the different rivalries that he has been a part of throughout his career. “When I was at Carlyle, Mater Dei was a big game, Central was a big game. Back when Paul Lusk and Mike Brink played that was a game I’ll never forget, the Wesclin and Carlyle game in 1989 the last regular season game of the year. We go ahead to win state, they go ahead to win state the following year. It was supposed to be played at our place the Friday before the Regional starts. We realize there was going to be people from Wesclin camping out, the day before the game. We have to print tickets for the last regular season game. A lot of college scouts in the stands and all that, you just brought back a memory here. As I would stop and go year to year, I could probably tell you a really good memory from every year, but that era Wesclin, when Paul Lusk was coaching that was a great rivalry. When Stan Eagleson was at Central, the Mater Dei years when Dennis Trame was coaching. When I got here the big rivalry was Pinckneyville in the conference, and Okawville non-conference locally.”
During his career Weathers received numerous accolades for his success. He was named Coach of the Year by various publications numerous times, as well as being an assistant coach on all-star teams along the way.
Weathers has also been named to three different Hall of Fames. Weathers was named to the McKendree College Sports Hall of Fame (Alumni Coach) in 1999, the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall Of Fame in 2005, and the Rend Lake College Sports Hall of Fame (Alumni Coach) in 2013.
Weathers also talked about all of the great high school gym’s that he has been able to coach in. From Assembly Hall as coach of the Hornets, to SIRR rival Pinckneyville, Weathers has traveled all over Southern Illinois coaching. Weathers mentioned Benton, Okawville’s old gym, Mater Dei, and Carlyle as some of the toughest gyms to coach in as an opposing coach.
As for what Weather’s has taken away from his career, Weathers said, “The journey was very enjoyable. The journey meant as much as the actual goal at the end of every year. Looking back, I always tell the kids when they are seniors, some of the best memories, sure there is great games, and there is exciting games and experiences, like this year we had that big game against Pinckneyville where the gym is packed, it goes down to the wire, one of the best games and experiences those kids will never forget, I’ll never forget. There is also those relationships, things that happen at practice in the locker room, there is experiences there. Some of them are funny, some were intense, but like i said, some of the best memories, aren’t necessarily from big games. They might be practices, road trips, locker room scenarios, things like that.”
Weather’s has been behind the bench for 31 years as a head coach, but talked about how fast the years went by. “It’s gone by extremely fast, it kind of hits you when you start seeing the sons of my former players. I’m either coaching them or playing against them, things like that. Aside from the wins and losses, when you’re coaching you’re always on a roller coaster, but over time the relationships that were formed, and friendships over the years, not just with players but coaches, friendly rivals, officials, media, guys are just tremendous, and I have been very blessed to get to know a lot of great people over the years, and consider them some really good friends that I’ve grown to know well, and I appreciate the friendship.”