Badin’s basketball ‘class act’ set to retire after 44 years in high school sports

Badin coach Gerry Weisgerber waves to the crowd after earning his 300th career coaching win in 2018. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY TERRI ADAMS

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Badin coach Gerry Weisgerber waves to the crowd after earning his 300th career coaching win in 2018. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY TERRI ADAMS

Matt Thompson isn’t sure that the Badin High School boys basketball team would have won its Division III state title in 1988 if it hadn’t been for coach Gerry Weisgerber.

The Rams went 28-0 that season and clearly had a group of talented players, but Thompson, a player on that team and later his colleague, said it was Weisgerber’s coaching that took them to another level. Even in more difficult campaigns, he’s left an impression.

Weisgerber, 67, has made quite an impact on Badin – and the local high school sports scene -- over his lengthy and decorated coaching career, and the Rams will miss his presence when he retires after this season. His final group of players will give him their best as he nears the end of his coaching career with the start of the postseason this week.

No. 13-seeded Badin (9-13) plays No. 8 Roger Bacon (11-7) in a sectional opener Saturday at Mason.

“Basically five years ago, when I interviewed, I told them if they wanted to go with me I would be good for three to five years,” Weisgerber said. “After the third year, I felt good so I said I would finish the five years. This is it. I’m not going to go look for anything else. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of great teams that were very successful and that has a lot to do with the players and assistant coaches. The fact I could end it at Badin, where I started it, meant a lot as well.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute, but now it’s time to sit back and watch others do it. To be able to do it this long, 44 years, I’m grateful.”

Weisgerber began his coaching career as a freshman basketball coach and varsity baseball coach at Chillicothe Bishop Flaget in 1976. After three years there, he came to Badin in 1979, initially as the varsity baseball coach and junior varsity basketball coach, but he took over as the varsity boys’ basketball coach in 1981 to embark on a memorable 18-year run.

Weisgerber then stepped into the role of Lakota West High School athletic director for 14 years and it was at the end of that stint he got back into coaching, serving as an assistant on Sean van Winkle’s staff with the Firebirds for two years from 2012 to 2014. When Van Winkle left for Hamilton, Thompson, who had become Badin’s head boys basketball coach in 2013, gave him a call to see if he would join his staff.

Weisgerber accepted and after two years together, Thompson stepped down and Badin tapped Weisgerber to take over to finish out his career. In 23 years as Badin’s head coach, he owns a 338-192 record, including a state title in 1988 and a pair of Final Four appearances in 1997 and 1998.

“I think if you mention Badin basketball, it starts with Gerry Weisgerber,” said Ed Larkin, who played on the 1988 state championship team and whose son Andrew leads the team in scoring this season. “Naturally, we’ve had other coaches, but he has brought the most success to the program and established a culture and put Badin basketball on the map.”

Those who have played for or worked with Weisgerber say his “calming influence” on and off the court is what sets him apart from many other great coaches.

Thompson said Weisgerber has a way of settling his players when emotions normally would be running high. Perhaps that is why Weisgerber was the first person Thompson thought to call years ago when a student approached him with an issue he wasn’t sure how to handle. Thompson recalls that moment because Weisgerber was working at West at the time and still ended up leaving an impact by helping with great advice.

Ben Helmers, who played three seasons for Badin from 1995-96 to 1997-98, saw Weisgerber as a caring coach as well, but also pointed out how his calmness made a difference during the back-to-back Final Four trips.

“He was always very composed,” Helmers said. “My junior and senior year the regional final games went to overtime, and his composure, his calmness resonated across the team and allowed us to play through that and get the win. We all really respected him. He was an uber positive, composed leader and I think that then came down to his players.”

Thompson said Weisgerber also earned the respect of the other coaches and officials because of the way he carries himself, and he has a way of bringing out the best in his players. That’s why he felt the 1988 team was so good.

“The approach to the game we learned from Gerry and his staff, it was a whole group effort,” Thompson said. “They were really good at getting us to play to our strengths and making us realize our weaknesses, and we bought in. He teaches basketball, he doesn’t coach basketball. He’s a class act, and I’m a better man, better coach, better employee because I was lucky enough to have him in my life.”

Weisgerber, who also led Badin’s baseball team to a Final Four in 1984, said he’s always enjoyed being able to work with kids. The emotions of stepping away from that passion started to stir a bit when former players and coaches came out to recognize him before the last home game against Carroll, but it won’t really hit Weisgerber until it’s all done.

This season was challenging in a lot of different ways, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but Weisgerber said he has no regrets about ending his career this way. Badin snapped a six-game losing streak this past week and remains plenty motivated entering the postseason on a two-game win streak after upsetting Alter on Friday.

“This year is not what you want it in terms of wins and losses but the fact these players are working every single day in practice, they’ve been wanting to turn things around as well as the coaching staff,” said Weisgerber, who credited his wife, Sallie, for her support over the years. “We’ve been grinding, and I’m proud of the effort. I can’t ask for anything more. Wins and losses are one thing, but the fact I know players are working hard and doing the best they can, that makes me feel good.”

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