Abe Everhart (2009)

Over the years Fayette County has had some coaching giants prowling the sidelines, but no one cast a bigger shadow than the late Abe Everhart.

Everhart came from a coaching background — his father Abe Everhart Sr. was a longtime coach at Uniontown High School and guided the Red Raiders to their first state championship in 1925.

Abe Everhart  

Abe followed in his father’s footsteps and fashioned a great record coaching basketball, track and cross country at Uniontown.

Everhart once made Sports Illustrated Faces in the Crowd for his coaching success.

He coached Uniontown for 29 years before retiring after the 1976 season. His career record was 549-149, with four WPIAL championships and two PIAA titles. His 1964 team was undefeated and his teams once won 52 games in a row, which still ties a WPIAL record. His Red Raiders won 21 section titles and at one point produced a phenomenal 95-1 record in section play between 1960 and 1966.

The record is one thing, but Everhart also was beloved by his players.

“Abe would let us play according to our abilities,” former Raider great Don Yates observed. “He would not have anyone do anything that they were not capable of doing. He had a great record, but he was a great coach. He took every player and put players in positions that they were good at and he asked no one to do more than they could do.”

“He was a very nice person,” former Raider Pete Smith said of Everhart. “He really got into the game, but he let you play your own game and he didn't have an attitude. He’d get on your case if things weren’t going well, but he kept things on an even keel.”

One of the highlights for Everhart was Uniontown defeating Norristown 70-57 in the 1962 PIAA state championship game. Yates paced the Raiders with 22 points. Uniontown ended their miracle run with a 29-2 record.

It marked a return to the Promised Land for the Red Raiders; it had been 37 years since Everhart’s father captured the title in 1925.

What was the younger Everhart’s reaction to the victory?

“It’s a big thrill to win something your dad has won,” he beamed in the noisy Uniontown dressing room after the battle. “Yes, sir, I’m real happy.”

Everhart had moved beside his father to become the first father-and-son coaching combo to coach a Pennsylvania basketball champion.

In 1964, Uniontown captured another PIAA Championship with a 62-51 win over Plymouth-Whitemarsh. The victory capped a perfect 28-0 season for the Red Raiders.
Uniontown was a bit of a surprise that season, it figured to be a rebuilding year with four regulars gone.

“I didn’t have any idea at the start of the season I would be where I am tonight. No idea at all,” Everhart said after winning the championship.

The Raiders got 19 points from Pat Yates, 16 points from Ben Gregory, 13 from Jim Rae and 12 Stu Lantz in cruising to the win.

“I couldn’t single out any one boy. I thought they all did a good job,” Everhart said after the game. “Yates and Rae played their best ball of the tournament and Gregory was a steadying influence. Lantz is a better shooter than you saw tonight, but he got the ball off the board and hit two key tip-ins for us when we needed them.”

Everhart had health issues that eventually led to the Uniontown School Board forcing him into retirement after a second heart attack in 1977.

“The school board didn’t want to take any chances with me,” Everhart said at the time. “I couldn’t get cleared by my doctors. For one solid year I stayed away from coaching. I was having some serious problems. I wasn’t chipper. I missed it a lot.”

Everhart returned to coach girl’s basketball at California High School for two years and then at Laurel Highlands and wound up coaching the Uniontown girls.

Everhart enjoyed coaching girl’s hoops at the end of his illustrious career.

“I think I expected a lot of the girls to play like boys,” he said. “They don’t and because they don’t, you got to be careful. At the beginning, I was expecting too much. I was too demanding. I’m starting to change now.

“Coaching girls is more of a fun thing. You can’t talk to them like you do boys. Their feelings get hurt. Really though, I’ve probably had more fun the past four years than I had in a long time.”

Everhart died of a heart attack in 1986 at the age of 74.

He is a member of the Pennsylvania Basketball Hall of Fame and was recently inducted into the WPIAL Hall of Fame.


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