Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stetson's Bob Weickel Hangs Up His Many Hats After 53 Years

Known throughout campus and DeLand as "Mr. Hatter", Bob Weickel begins his 53rd year in the Stetson athletic department, and his 33rd season as the men's golf coach. To say Weickel has done it all at Stetson would be a bit of an understatement. 

Weickel has served Stetson in several different capacities, including assistant basketball coach (1960-74), assistant baseball coach (1960-64), head baseball coach (1965-68), intramural director (1962-84), professor of Sport Management (1962-2005), Physical Education Director (1973-93) and Assistant Athletic Director (1984-95).

Weickel is in the midst of his third turn as head golf coach, serving as head coach in 1971, 1973-84 and 1992-present. In his five decades with the Hatters, Weickel has coached his various teams to over 1000 victories. In his career, Weickel has had the pleasure of working with several of the top coaches in Stetson history, including basketball coach Dr. Glenn Wilkes and baseball coach Carl H. "Doc" Johnson.

"As a young man I had the pleasure and the opportunity to come into a situation where those who were preceding me had been there for 30-plus years," says Weickel. "They would share things and tell me stories, and that was a real advantage for me just getting started in my career. I think about things now that I am in the same situation they were in, and a lot of what they taught me really stuck with me."

Weickel's Hatters finished fifth in last year's men's golf championship and have finished as high as fourth under his direction. While Weickel has never had the privilege of taking his Stetson team to the NCAA Championships, he singles out as a highlight the opportunity to attend the 2012 NCAA regionals with his senior and 2012 A-Sun medalist Sam Ryder. 

As a baseball coach, Weickel became the first collegiate coach in the state of Florida to integrate his program, adding the first African-American player, Jimmy Johnson, to the Hatters' roster in 1964. Johnson is one of many players with whom Weickel has kept in touch over the years. Weickel chuckles as recalls that while Johnson was a great athlete and solid player as a catcher, he eventually had to move him to first base because of the strength and often inaccuracy of his arm. "Arm strength wasn't his problem, he had a strong arm, but he would throw it into center field," Weickel laughs.

As a coach Weickel says he has no favorite sport, because as he points out, "they are all different. They allowed me to stay with golf and so that has been the one I coached the longest, but I have special memories from all of them."

Some of those memories include success with the Hatters' basketball teams that made appearances in the NAIA and NCAA Division II basketball championships.

And while the on-court success for Weickel has been an important part of his career, he is just as proud of the fact that in his 33 years as golf coach, only two players have failed to graduate. Just from last season, Ryder was selected as a Cleveland golf/Srixon All-America Scholar and a member of the A-Sun Academic All-Conference team. To be eligible for Cleveland Golf/Srixon All-America Scholar status an individual must be a junior or senior academically, compete in at least three full years at the collegiate level, participate in 70-percent of his team’s competitive rounds or compete in the NCAA Championships, have a stroke-average under 76.0 in Division I, 78.0 in Division II, 77.0 in NAIA and 79.0 in Division III, and maintain a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.2. A recipient must also be of high moral character and be in good standing at his college or university.

"Academics were the biggest emphasis of the job when I first began, and is why ultimately we are here to help these young men. That continues to be a focus for our university, as it should be, and I am glad that we have been able to excel in that areas as well."
Weickel graduated from Springfield (Mass.) College in 1960 following an impressive athletic career. During his senior year at Springfield, he was captain of the basketball team and was selected to an All-New England All-Star team. He was also a standout on the baseball diamond where his pitching prowess earned him various honors.
Weickel earned his M.A. at Stetson. 

He is a native of Huntington Station, N.Y., and he has a son, Kevin, a former letterwinner on the Stetson baseball team. Kevin is now the head golf pro at Disney World Golf and the chairman of the Disney PGA Tour event.

As if Mr. Hatter needed additional feathers in his cap, Weickel's commitment to and prolonged success with Stetson earned him the honor in November 2012 of induction into the Stetson Athletics Hall of Fame.

“It does mean a lot to me,” Weickel said. “I've really spent my life here. I feel proud that I'm being recognized and going into the Hall of Fame along with a lot of other great coaches, some of whom I've worked with like Glenn Wilkes, Doc Johnson and Brady Cowell. I'm really happy to be part of that group.”

Weickel's Hatters are in seventh place after the first round of the 2013 Men's Golf Championship, with Michael Primavera and Andrew Peterson leading the team in a tie for 15th.

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