E.A. Sports Today

Passing the torch

Weaver’s Hamby makes clean break from coaching, steps away from Bearcats’ basketball team; Herbert named interim

Weaver’s Daryl Hamby (R) and Marcus Herbert have been together in Bearcats athletics since 1999. (Photo by Greg Warren. Cover photo by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

WEAVER – Four days after coaching his final game with the Weaver football team, Daryl Hamby stood in front of his Bearcats basketball team today and passed the torch again.

Hamby made it known back in the spring this was going to be his last season coaching football and Tuesday he stepped away from the basketball court.

Daryl Hamby (R), talking with Saks coach Jonathan Miller before a recent game, has stepped aside as the Bearcats’ basketball coach. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

But he hasn’t left the Bearcats in a lurch six days before their season opener at Southside. The timing of the decision allowed for the natural transition of Marcus Herbert to take control of the team, at least on an interim basis.

Hamby told Weaver principal Mike Allison of his decision Monday, although some anticipated it as the football season progressed, but he wanted to tell the players before their first practice together Tuesday.

“It’s just time,” Hamby told East Alabama Sports Today. “It’s kind of like football. It’s time for me to take a little break and spend time with my family.

“I’ve been lucky to be here since 1999 and had some success with the basketball team. People think I’m a little nuts (to leave at this time) because we have a good team, but Coach Herbert deserves a chance to have this good team. He’s been with me every step of the way. I’d like to leave him a good team so he has some success.”

Allison confirmed Herbert’s promotion as interim head coach. He was reluctant to name a full-time successor because the change comes so close to the start of the season, but has “full confidence” in Herbert’s ability to lead the program. He also said the paperwork for the head football coach’s vacancy has been forwarded to the county board.

“Coach Herbert has been around the program for several years,” Allison said. “He was a great athlete at Weaver High School, has great rapport with the players and I think he’s going to do a real good job.”

Hamby is the second-longest tenured basketball coach in Weaver history, behind only Calhoun County Sports Hall of Famer Mike Deerman, for whom the school gym is named. He’s been with the program for the better part of 19 years with the exception of three seasons between 2009 and 2012 when he spent a year as Todd Ginn’s assistant at Gadsden State and two years as only the Weaver head football coach before taking on both sports in 2013.

Marcus Herbert was named Weaver’s interim head basketball coach Tuesday. (Photo by Greg Warren)

The highlights of his tenure include several area championships, trips to the Sweet 16 and the 2005 Final Four. Don’t ask about specific numbers, though; he doesn’t keep track. He closed a nine-year run as the Bearcats’ football coach Friday in the first-round of the Class 3A playoffs.

Even though he won’t be coaching, Hamby will remain a teacher at the school. He hasn’t ruled out coaching again in the future.

“I couldn’t tell you how many games I won, how many area championships, Sweet 16s; it’s been a few,” he said. “It’s been a fun ride, that’s for sure.”

And Herbert has been with him every step of the way, which makes him the natural choice for successor.

Herbert, 33, was a seventh-grader when Hamby became the Bearcats’ basketball coach in 1999. He broke into the varsity lineup as an eighth-grader during a rash of injuries and played for five years (including the Final Four year). He followed that by coaching every level of the program for him and, for the last three years, served as the varsity’s lead assistant and operations director, handling everything from scheduling to travel.

He directed the team during this past June’s play dates at Champions Sports Academy (with Hamby overseeing nearby) and has been running the practices while the football team was still playing.

“Marcus has earned his stripes; he’s definitely the man to do it,” Hamby said. “He knows what to do.”

Hamby’s influence on his protege goes way back. The first day of junior high football practice Herbert went to him for keys to get some basketball equipment out of storage and Hamby told him he wasn’t going anywhere, he was going to be the junior high quarterback. They’ve been together ever since.

“Most definitely he’s been like a second father figure, but that goes for everybody who comes across him and Cathy’s path; that’s a given,” Herbert said. “We go way back. My brother played tennis with him and Cathy at the Fort when I was just crawling around.

“I went through the system there, learning under him, did my volunteer coaching there. I feel I’m ready for it and if God leads me into this position it’s going to be special.”

Hamby has left Herbert a chance to be successful right out of the gate. The Bearcats have 10 seniors that include Robert Gaines, Shamar Spinks and Amardric Elston and have a top transfer from Jacksonville, Deandre McCain.

“I’ve coached these kids since they were in the seventh grade,” Herbert said. “If we can just buy into playing for one another, they can do anything they want.”

You must be logged in to post a comment Login