Head track and field coach racks up 20 coach of the year awards

Head coach of track and field, John Weaver, has been in the business of molding exceptional athletes for 40 years.

This year was no different, with Coach Weaver earning his 20th SoCon coach of the year honors, his 11th for the women’s team and ninth for the men’s team.

Coach Weaver started a career of his own in high school, where he ran for his school team and then came to ASU, where he ran his freshman and sophomore years.

“I probably should have been more of a middle distance runner, when I was a distance runner,” coach Weaver said, modestly.  “And that didn’t work out well.”

After that, he transitioned into a student assistant role with the track team.

“I had no intention to coach,” Coach Weaver said.  “I went back to high school to teach biology and they found out that I had an association with the track team at Appalachian, so they asked me if I’d like to coach there.  I said ‘sure’.  They split the high school and as an incentive for me to go over to the other high school, because nobody really wanted to go over there, they told me that I could be the boy’s track coach.  Back then they didn’t have a women’s program.”

And not long afterwards, he took the head-coaching job as ASU, where he has been for 33 years.

“It’s all those great athletes who win championships, otherwise I wouldn’t be any good at all,” Coach Weaver said.

Among those great athletes was Damion McLean, who transitioned from athlete to coach under coach Weaver’s leadership. McLean now coaches sprinters, long jumpers and triple jumpers under Coach Weaver.

“I still call him coach and I ask him a lot of things,” Coach McLean said.  “He’s been in the game for a long period of time so he’s a good person to go to and ask a lot of questions.”
When asked about a memory of Coach Weaver, he didn’t hesitate.

“There was one point in time when I thought I wasn’t doing as good as I thought I could’ve been doing,” coach McLean said.  “I went into Coach Weaver’s office and I told him that I wanted to quit.  He talked me out of it, and the year after that I became the number one jumper in the Southern Conference.  When Weaver believes in somebody, he sticks to it, and he makes sure that person is accountable to their job as well.”

Along with Coach McLean, another member of Coach Weaver’s staff, is coach Jay Weaver, coach John Weaver’s son.

“[Growing up with a coach as a dad] was probably different than most people would think, because he actually didn’t pressure me into track and field at all, he encouraged me to do other sports,” Jay Weaver said.  “He probably wasn’t your typical ‘track coach father’, and it just kind of came naturally, probably just because I was around it so much.”

With coach John Weaver’s record of success, having another Weaver around the track couldn’t hurt, as Coach Jay Weaver describes himself as an “extension” of his dad. One of the best experiences he says was going with his father to the Olympic trials with two-time bronze medalist in 100-meter hurdles, Mellisa Morrison.

“Seeing track on a grand stage like that for the first time and seeing my dad be apart of it with a world class athlete was pretty cool,” Coach Jay Weaver said. “I love every time he wins Coach of the Year and the team is successful and I feel like he gets the recognition he deserves.”

As coach John Weaver approaches 65 years old, he certainly has a life littered with highlights.

“Watching athletes winning SoCon championships and the excitement that they have, those are my highlights,” Coach Weaver said. “You walk into our trophy room and we’ve got a whole room of highlights.  It makes us feel like it was worth all the work.”

Story: LEIGH ROBERTS, Senior Sports Reporter