Looking Back with a Natural Leader | Legendary Coach Retires
Rick Russo sits down with former Tennessee softball coach Ralph Weekly to talk about his career
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - As University of Tennessee softball coach Ralph Weekly retires, WVLT News’ Rick Russo sits down to remember his legendary career. After over three decades of coaching young athletes, Weekly says he knows when it’s time to step away.
Weekly began his coaching in the Armed Forces. It was then on to Pacific Lutheran University, first as a football coach, and then later as head softball coach. ”So I took the team and in 1988 we won the small college national championship and again in 1992 and that’s when they selected the Olympic coaches and without that I don’t think I would have been at Tennessee,” Weekly said.
PLU isn also where Ralph would meet his future wife and coaching partner Karen. ”That’s when she came to me and asked if she could coach and I said yes. We coached together for eight years before we were married she’s the best coach I’ve ever known and very, very good.”
The two used their partnership to build the UT softball team into what it is today, Weekly said. ”The main thing is that the partnership is built on trust. We always say together we can, together we will.”
Weekly didn’t just fight on the softball field, he also served in the Vietnam War. He spoke on how much higher the stakes were on the battle field. ”The military was really popular back in that time in 1959 and I decided I was gonna enlist and I went from a one striper to the commander of four states in the U.S. Armed Forces and I just think the military is a good thing. If we make a mistake on the ball field we might lose a run, if we make a mistake on the battle field you might lose a man or a woman.”
Serving the United States, whether in the armed forces or at the Olympics, has always meant a great deal to Weekly. His wife says that’s part of what makes him such a great coach. ”He’s a natural leader and I think that’s what’s made him so successful. He draws people to him, that’s a big part of why accomplished what he has.”
Ralph Weekly began his time at UT in 2002.
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