Support from his family, friends and former players help Weakley reach the 300th win milestone.
By Paul Batterson, WCS Contributing Writer
When he left the Hogue Center on Jan. 9, senior Kyle Smith didn’t realize the importance of the Worthington Christian High School boys basketball team’s 48-28 victory over Centerburg.
The celebration of coach Kevin Weakley’s 300th win was so subdued Smith didn’t even know it happened.
“I didn’t even know that it was his 300th until a friend of mine texted me afterward,” said Smith, who had eight points and seven rebounds in the victory. “We won the game, but the 300th win is such a big deal. I wish we had played a little better as a team.”
Weakley, whose team improved to 4-7 overall with the win over the Trojans, didn’t tell any of the players of the approaching milestone because, he said, “This season is not about me; it’s about the players.”
“Over the last 24 hours, I’ve reflected back on all the people who have allowed me to coach here for 18 years,” said Weakley, whose 18-year career record improved to 300-131 with the win over Centerburg. “It’s been meaningful for me to step back and realize how many different people have influenced my life as a coach and as a player.
“I look back at my early years at Worthington Christian, and I realize I had the chance to coach some pretty amazing players. That allowed me to get off to a good start. That is so important for young coaches these days. That can set the momentum for their whole career.”
Weakley (WCS ‘95) is the school’s all-time leader in wins, ranking him ahead of his mentor Ray Slagle (who compiled 188 wins from 1990-2000) and his father Scott Weakley, (57 wins from 1985-1989).
Weakley’s thumbprint on the boys’ basketball team is so large that WCS historian Cory Estabrook created a new entry in the team’s record book: The Sans Kevin and Kevin eras. During the sans Kevin era, the Warriors were 291-116. During Weakley’s tenure as a player (1991-1995), Worthington Christian was 70-23.
Missing from that set of statistics is the years Weakley served as the team’s water boy while his father was coaching the team.
Weakley said he inherited his passion for the sport from his father Scott, who served as the head men’s basketball coach at Capital University for five years after leaving Worthington Christian.
“When Dad was coaching here, I grew up around the basketball team and wanting to play varsity for the Warriors,” he said. “I was a water boy and had to mop the floor every Sunday and make sure it was clean. If you talk to coaches at any level, they will tell you they love coaching kids. After being around my dad as a coach, I can certainly understand why.”
Scott Weakley’s love for the game also spread to Kevin’s brothers, Jason (WCS ’00) and Bryan (WCS ’97). Jason, who played on the Warriors 1998-99 state championship team, is sixth on the team’s all-time scoring list (1,282 points) and holds school records for career games played (102), 3-point shooting percentage (45.9 percent) and free throw shooting percentage (83.8 percent). Bryan is the winningest coach at the Texas A&M International in Laredo, Texas. Additionally, Kevin’s brother-in-law, Jason Beschta, is the head coach at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark.
Weakley helped the Warriors to a 22-5 finish in the 1993-94 season, falling to Upper Scioto Valley 56-54 in the Division IV state final. During his four years at the school, he established school records for steals (266) and assists (583) and is fifth in scoring (1,359).
Slagle, the man Kevin eventually replaced as the Warriors coach before the 2000-01 season after Slagle went off to coach Cedarville University, said the eldest brother didn’t have an auspicious start to his playing career.
“We still ride Kevin about how he ‘held’ Billy Cane to 56 points (in a 100-70 loss to St. Charles in his first game,” said Slagle, who coached all three of the Weakley brothers. “He became an extraordinary defensive player. He was a fierce competitor and a truly outstanding player.
“He had a lot of freedom in our system. Being a great point guard and a decision maker always puts you in a great position to be a great coach. He was very unselfish and made everyone around him better. You add those things together, and it sets you up to do well in whatever you do in life.”
After graduating from Otterbein University, Weakley coached the Worthington Christian Middle School’s seventh-grade boys basketball team for a year before taking over for Slagle in the 2000-01 season. One of the things Weakley had to adjust to was that basketball was not an all time-consuming passion for every player.
“One of the challenges for me was having players who didn’t have that same drive and desire to get better in the offseason that I had,” Weakley said. “Many kids want to get to that (highest) level, but they aren’t willing to put in the time.
“God has wired every person differently. As a coach, you can’t put passion, heart or desire into anyone. You can try, but it has to be hardwired into them.”
Colt Cunningham (WCS ’05), who played for Weakley for two years and currently is one of his assistant coaches, said what makes Weakley a successful coach is his ability to take players where he finds them and encourages them to be the best they can be.
“My whole path changed when I went to Worthington Christian, not just as a basketball player but as a person,” said Cunningham, who went on to play basketball at Bluffton University. “Before I went here, I thought I had no chance of playing college basketball. I got that opportunity.
“As an assistant coach, I see Kevin do the same things he did for me to other players. He’s driven by a passion to help kids grow as basketball players but even more so as godly men.”
Like his father did before him, Weakley is trying to pass on the passion for the game to his children, freshman Katherine, seventh grader Megan and third grader Grant, who all attend Worthington Christian.
“Have you ever seen the movie, Remember The Titans?” Weakley mused. “There was that girl (Sherry Yost, played by Hayden Panettiere), who followed her dad, who was a coach, everywhere. Katherine’s like that now. She absorbs everything.
“In coaching, you feel good after a win, but you have to move on to something else. You hang on to tough losses for a couple of days. It affects everything you do — your sleep, your relationships and what you think about. I remember when we lost a game in a district final a few years back in the Coliseum. I looked over in the corner of the Coliseum, and there was Katherine sobbing. She came over and gave me a big hug. I don’t know why I remember that moment, but that was one of the greatest moments in my coaching career. It reminded me that we are doing this as a family.”