Hal Weightman

Hal Weightman spent 34 years as a teacher and coach in the Connellsville Area school district.

He was there when the district was formed when Connellsville Joint and the Dunbar Township systems merged in 1966.

Chuck Muncie  

Weightman was the first head basketball coach when the district was formed and was
affectionately referred to as “Father Falcon.”

A 1955 graduate of Clairton High School, he was a basketball standout for the Bears and Coach
Stan Berkman. He went to work in the Steel Mill for two years to earn enough money to go to

“I played football, basketball and baseball in high school,” Weightman recalled. “I worked hard to
earn money to go to Slippery Rock. I went up there as a freshman, but I was two-years older
than all the other freshman. It made it easy for me because I made first string varsity as a
freshman in basketball and started for all four-years after that."

Weightman played on some competitive teams at Slippery Rock. He was part of teams that
posted records of 4-14 in 1957-58, 10-11 in 1958-59, 14-4 in 1959-60 and 15-6 in 1960-61.

“We had good teams,” Weightman offered. “In 1957-58 it was Coach Bob Smiley's last year of
coaching and then Hank Baierl came in and he was there for my final three years.”

When Weightman graduated, he went to Butler where he had done his practice teaching.

“I did my my practice teaching at Butler,” Weightman said. “Paul Uram and Art Benardi a former
Clairton graduate, Uram was my credit teacher and former flexibility coach for the Steelers.
Uram told me that Ed Hepe from Fort Cherry had been hired as basketball coach. I met with
Hepe and I was hired as an assistant and a physical education teacher at the junior high. I was
at Butler three-years and then went to Clairton after Dan Hill got the head coaching job
replacing Stan Berkman. Hill hired me as his varsity assistant and I was there for three years.”

Connellsville and Dunbar merged in 1966-67. Weightman recalled that “McKeesport Coach
Neenie Campbell came to the Shadyside Inn for an event and when he heard the new jointure
was looking for a coach, he said that in his opinion I was the best young coach in the Mon
Valley. I got a call from Fred Miller a member of the Connellsville School Board, asking me
about my prospects and my availability .

“I came to Connellsville and met with Stan Mclaughlin (Connellsville Area High School's late
football coach and athletic director), and eventually I was offered the job as head basketball

Weightman came into a tough situation because Uniontown and Laurel Highlands were
heavyweights in his section.

“My first-year we went 12-9 and I was 6-4 in the section and the four losses were two to
Uniontown and two to Laurel Highlands,” Weightman explained. “They had Wil Robinson at
Laurel Highlands and Willie Bryant was at Uniontown.”

Weightman coached five seasons in what would be his first stint as head basketball coach at
Connellsville and compiled a record of 57-52 overall and 23-27 in section play.

“I would say I got an education from Abe Everhart and Horse Taylor,” Weightman lamented.
“They educated me and I think when I came around the second time after coaching swimming
for five-years, and you know that was a completely different thing. There isn't the team's
success as much as every kid’s. If he swims his best time, he is so happy and jubilant no matter
what the team did. It gave me another perspective on athletics coaching those five-years.”

Weightman coached the Connellsville golf team from 1976 to 1994 and the swimmers from
1974 to 1979. His teams won section titles in both sports.

In 1979, when the school board fired Jim Sherbody, Weightman was once again named head
basketball coach and his second time around was very successful.

Weightman developed great relationships with his rivals Everhart and Taylor and was very close
with another Fayette County coaching legend.

“Lash Nesser and I were the closest of all,” Weightman said. “I was with him when his 11th child
was born in the hospital at four in the morning. I used to meet him at Howard Johnson's
restaurant and have coffee.”

In 15 of the seasons at the helm for the Falcons, Weightman's teams reached double figures in
victories. The high watermark was a 23-6 campaign in 1979-80, also 21-5 in 1981-82 and 22-4
in 1982-83. The 1979-80 squad finished second in the WPIAL playoffs, losing in the finals to
Beaver Falls 67-51. Two other teams made it to the semifinals, losing in 1985-86 to Kiski Area,
61-57 and to Hempfield, 59-56 in overtime, in 1990-91.

“I really believe coaching the individual sports of swimming and golf gave me an appreciation to
enjoy the kids even more so than before,” Weightman offered. “You can't let the scoreboard
dictate how you feel and I took that back to basketball. The 80's were phenomenal, we were
very successful.”

His only regret, if any?

“Only thing, I couldn't bring a WPIAL basketball championship back to Connellsville. We got to
the semis and the finals, but couldn't get the big win.”

Weightman finished with some impressive career totals, 264-199 overall, including 126-80 in
exhibition play and 130-107 in section play. He was 8-9 in postseason WPIAL competition and
0-3 in PIAA play.

One of Weightman's biggest honors was coaching the Pennsylvania All-Stars in the 1986
Dapper Dan Roundball Classic.

Weightman, 81, still resides in Connellsville with his wife of 57-years Myrna and they have one
daughter and three grandchildren. Weightman retired from coaching and teaching in 2000.

“Getting 200 wins was a great milestone,” Weightman explained. “I won section championships
in three varsity sports. I really enjoyed working in Connellsville. It was a good ride, I couldn't
have been happier, I wouldn't change anything.”



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