Coaches awarded for season

The 2009 spring sports Coaches of the Year share one thing in common — putting the best team on the field its school has ever seen.

Briarwood Christian baseball head coach Lee Hall knew this was a special year when he gathered his eight seniors together at a preseason retreat.

“They sat there and told me how they wanted the season to go. It’s the first senior class that I’ve had that was on the exact same page I was,” Hall said.

That made decision-making easy for Hall, as the Lions went on to win more than 30 games for the first time in program history and advance to the Class 5A state championship series.

In softball, Mark Armstrong led Cornerstone to its third straight AISA Class 1A title. Armstrong was forced to keep his team focused on the final day of the state tournament, as the Chargers had to play a full day of ball after losing to Ashford the morning of the title game.

Cornerstone rallied back to beat Wilcox and then Ashford twice to win the state title and eclipse the 30-win mark for the first time in program history.

In girls’ soccer, Spain Park’s Jonathan Weimer was living in Texas when he found out that he’d be leading the Lady Jags this spring. After the 2008 season, Weimer stepped down as Spain Park’s assistant and moved with his wife to Texas. But after an AHSAA rule kept head coach Robert Starr from coaching this season, Weimer returned to take over.

He arrived days before tryouts and led the Lady Jags to a state championship with only one loss on the year.

“It was a big challenge for me to keep their egos in check,” Weimer said.

I had to bring up things from last year. They just kept winning and kept winning. It was great for the girls. They were on a high all season.”

In boys’ soccer, Pelham’s Patrick McDonald took the Panthers to the AHSAA Class 6A playoffs for the first time in close to a decade. McDonald managed to shift his players’ mindset from underdog to competitor after the seniors struggled to win a game their freshman year.

One of the early signs of a special season was when the Panthers knocked off Vestavia in the Lakeshore Shootout and did again weeks late in the regular season.

“When you beat a team like Vestavia it says something about the progression of the program,” McDonald said.