Friday, Nov 28, 2014
Central High School

Former Central coach, teacher loses battle with cancer

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Published:   |   Updated: November 5, 2013 at 06:45 PM

Vicki Weaver, a former volleyball and girls golf head coach at Central High, passed away on Sunday after battling breast cancer. She was 55.

A health and physical education teacher at the school, she guided the volleyball team to a 70-48 mark and two regional appearances over five seasons from 2004-08.

In her first year at the helm, she led the Lady Bears to a 21-5 record, a district championship and a spot in the regional finals.

She was previously head coach at Lakeland Christian and Lakeland-Kathleen, part of a lengthy coaching career following her playing days at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonberg, Va.

"There's sadness. You could feel it on Monday," Central athletic director Al Sorrentino said. "People handle these things in their own way. Obviously she was a longtime, big part of this school and she'll be missed by a lot of people.

"She always ran a quality program. Her athletes were always disciplined, well-mannered. Those were her expectations."

Weaver was a native of Muncie, Ind. who began teaching at Central in 1994. In addition to her coaching duties, she was a freshman class sponsor and involved with the school's ROTC program.

In the meantime, she earned a master's degree in education leadership from USF, and also coached youth soccer and gave swim lessons.

From 2010-12 she was the head girls golf coach.

"She came into girls golf, which was my experience with her, and she really wanted to improve the opportunity for girls to have a great experience with golf," Nature Coast head girls golf coach Cheryl Paradis said.

"A lot of us that are girls golf coaches, we don't coach other areas. But she had some really great experience with coaching (volleyball) and she brought that to the table and it was helpful for us."

Paradis got to know Weaver outside of the links, recalling a time they baked cookies together, calling her a "fun person" and an "advocate for girls sports."

It was during the 2011 girls golf season that Weaver received her cancer diagnosis.

"What a tremendous battle she fought," Paradis said. "She never gave up, ever. How inspiring it was for the girls to get to see her."

Still, it was in volleyball where Weaver made her greatest impact on the county athletic scene.

She was junior varsity and assistant varsity coach for the Lady Bears in 2003, then took over the top varsity spot. Her daughter Nikki was the team's top player.

Central's setter at the time was Noemi Rivera, now the Springstead head coach. Rivera said she was devastated to learn her former mentor had passed on.

"She was a great person, a mother, a teacher, a friend - all of the above," Rivera said. "We just gave another angel.

"She always pushed us to be the best we can be and never let us play less than our best. She expected greatness and brought the best out of us.

"My prayers go out to the family, and just stay strong and be encouraged. She's pain-free and watching over us."

Former Hernando head coach Dena Frye admired Weaver's work from the opposing side.

"She was so professional," Frye said. "We always enjoyed playing her. Even though I could never beat her, it was always fun.

"I'm at a loss for words. I'm in total shock. She was a great woman, a great coach, a great mom."

Weaver continued teaching despite her illness, and often used her illness as a learning point for students in her health course.

Last month Weaver spoke about her students who helped her raise money for a local cancer center, and who supported her through the making and selling of pink shirts with her name on the back.

Some students, Weaver said, would just walk up to her, and tell her they had been thinking of her that day.

In addition to her daughter, Weaver is survived by her husband Mark, also a teacher and a coach at Central, and her son Curtis, who graduated from the school and has spent time coaching volleyball and soccer.

A memorial service will be held Thursday at 6 p.m., at Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Brooksville.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation (FCS), 4371 Veronica S. Shoemaker Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33916, or visit https://foundation.flcancer.com/donate.

cbernhardt@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5288

Reporter Matt Reinig contributed to this story.

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