There's another changing of the guard in Ooltewah's athletic program.
Wendell Weathers, who has been the head wrestling coach for the Owls these past 13 years, has been pondering a life-changing decision in recent months and he made his intentions public on Thursday afternoon when he announced to the members of his team that he's taking on new responsibility at the North Hamilton County school and that he would no longer be there leader on the mat.
Weathers had his first head coaching job in wrestling at Rhea County where he spent two years before taking over the Ooltewah program. He turned the Owls from pretenders to contenders in a short time and they had their best season in 2008 when they finished as the runner-up at the State Duals behind the Bradley Bears.
The soft-spoken 50-year-old son of legendary coach Tom Weathers has no idea how many dual meets he won as the Ooltewah coach, but he was blessed to coach three young men to individual state titles, including Jake Young in 2007 and 2009, Cody Sliger in 2007 and 2008 and Cody Hood in 2009.
"I don't feel very organized right now as I get a little emotional just talking about it. It's hard to articulate just how I feel right now, but this is the natural next step for me as I feel like I can serve Ooltewah High School better in a different role," he said late Thursday afternoon.
"I told the members of my team today and they were a little bit shocked to hear it. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. My new title will be Dean of Students, which means that I'll get to work closely with the current administration.
"I've had a great run as a wrestling coach and I must give credit to a couple of assistant coaches who have made my job easy. Ryan Cooper was here for many years and J.D. Dunbar was my assistant this past year and they both deserve a lot of credit for the success we've had," Weathers added.
Jim Jarvis is the Ooltewah principal and he may be the happiest guy on staff to hear of Weathers' decision.
"Wendell Weathers has been a tremendous asset to our entire athletic program and he may be the most unselfish coach I've ever been around," Jarvis said during a break before another after-school event began.
"He has been a real ambassador for our school. He's been thinking about this decision for a long time and he's done a lot of praying about it, but he has aspirations to be involved in school administration and he will be tremendous in that role.
"Wendell will be working mostly with ninth graders. I've always felt that if you wanted something done and done right, all you had to do was contact Wendell Weathers. I have all the confidence in the world in his ability to take this next step forward," Jarvis nodded.
Jesse Nayadley has been down a much similar path to Weathers in the past year as he took over as the Ooltewah athletic director before giving up his position as the head coach of the Ooltewah boys' basketball team. He knows exactly what his buddy is going through.
"Number one, we're thrilled to have him move up on our staff," Nayadley said Thursday afternoon.
"He's been a great coach for a long, long time, but he may be an even better person. It was a tough decision for him as he loves Ooltewah wrestling, but I know how he feels as I went through the same thing in the past year," Nayadley concluded.
Persons interested in applying for Weathers' old job have until midnight Monday to submit their resume. Jarvis and others will go through the interview process with hopes of naming a new coach by the end of next week.
(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@Comcast.net)