Blair Garrett

Coaching sports is as difficult as it is rewarding.

Managing different personalities, encouraging athletes to be their best on and off the court, and putting together game plans that emphasize your team’s strengths can be taxing on even the most dedicated coaches.

In addition to all the film and research that goes into putting together a winning strategy, coaches provide another source of team support that is often over-looked.

“It takes a lot of hours as a coach,” JV Coach and Assistant Varsity Coach Jim Weddle said. “A lot of times, you have to go to events to raise money for the team, and a lot of people don’t want to put in that time.”

Fortunately for the Catoctin High School (CHS) boys basketball team, a foundation of youth basketball has been put in place.

Weddle has been around the game for a long, long time, and he knows the ins and outs of what it takes to build a great team.

Youth support and encouraging kids to be active and try basketball from a young age fuels good teams for the future, and the Catoctin area was missing that for quite some time.

“The Catoctin Youth Association (CYA) has really done a great job as far as getting kids involved in basketball at a young age,” Weddle said. “Jason Smith has done a heck of a job with CYA. He puts in a heck of a lot of time into it.”

Weddle recognizes the youth support and has seen that culture shift from a school that did not win a lot of games just a few years ago, to a school that now competes with the top schools in the region for a top playoff seed.

“In the three years before Brian [Burdette] and I came on as coaches, the basketball teams did not win a lot of games,” Weddle said. “It was hard to bring coaches in because they see that history.”

Weddle, along with Head Coach Brian Burdette, has shifted the mindset from a team that just participates in games to a team that goes out and takes games.

That success may be in part to Weddle and Burdette’s history before taking over the reins at Catoctin.

“Coach Burdette played for me when I was the head coach at Linganore High School,” Weddle said. “We went on and coached some Mid-Maryland teams a few years ago and won championships the last two years.”

That chemistry and familiarity provide a full bank of knowledge for both coaches to draw upon in molding the CHS boys teams to live up to their potential. So far, it has paid off tremendously.

The Catoctin boys team now sits as one of the top seeds battling for a playoff position in the region, due in part to the work and dedication of the players and from the extensive support and instruction from the team’s coaching staff.

Students at Catoctin have taken notice, too, and the home crowd has been noticeably louder and wilder than it has in years past.

“We’ve done really well, and the kids at the school have really started to support the team,” Weddle said. “We play an up-tempo kind of basketball, and most people like it because it’s exciting.”

That home-court advantage has been monumentally important in giving the Cougars the shot of energy they need to win games, leading to a stellar home record.

From the region’s first youth leagues all the way to varsity basketball, there are signs of promise that the successes built over the past few seasons are here to stay. With dedicated members of CYA introducing kids to the game of basketball, it eventually allows the high school coaches to watch and see the growth and progress kids make as they move through youth sports.

“We try to go to the Mid-Maryland games, so we can get to know these kids as they’re growing up,” Weddle said. “I think that’s important.”

It is clear that the impact from whose who are willing to put the time in from top to bottom has affected youth sports in a tremendous way. One thing is certain: the future of Catoctin basketball is in good hands.

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