NEDERLAND — The timing was too perfect, almost eerily so, for Herm Weaver to ignore his next calling.
His emotions remained excruciatingly raw. And, really, when it came down to it, no one in the Weaver family was particularly interested in doing much of anything after the horrific events of Oct. 24, 2010.
That’s the day the Weavers began dealing with the unthinkable. While taking a break from her missionary duties in Alamosa with a bike ride on a perfectly sunny day, the Weavers’ middle child, Chloe, was killed in a hit-and-run accident.
A few days later, on the very day the Weavers returned home from the funeral, the family’s youngest child, basketball-playing Dillon, informed Herm Weaver that the boys basketball coaching position at Nederland High had just become vacant with the season looming on the horizon.
For years, Herm Weaver had endured his daughter’s gentle prodding to get back into coaching, telling him he was the perfect candidate to bring some stability to Nederland while Dillon came up through the Panthers’ program. Even though he boasted an extensive background coaching AAU ball in Virginia prior to the family’s move to Colorado, Herm Weaver had always been more than a little reluctant to venture into high school coaching in small-town Colorado.
Herm Weaver certainly wasn’t looking for a new job when the coaching carousel for Nederland’s boys basketball program continued on that fateful day. Yet before long Weaver dusted off his whistle and donned the Panthers’ version of blue and gold. There was never a doubt in his mind that his daughter Chloe would have wanted it that way.
“Chloe had been leaning on me to coach,” Herm Weaver said. “She said ‘Dad, these boys deserve somebody who cares about them.’ She just wanted a good experience for Dillon because she cared the world for her little brother. She was leaning on me.
“Practice was scheduled to start in a week and a half or two weeks. (Dillon) just looked at me and said, ‘You have to do it.’ I fought it for a little bit, but it seemed like a way that we could both honor Chloe.”
Now in their third season together as a coach-player, father-son combo, Herm and Dillon Weaver have worked through a wrenching grieving process together on the floor.
Not surprisingly, it hasn’t always been easy. Herm Weaver estimates that there was only one or two games that first season in which Dillon, then a sophomore and understandably bitter over the sudden loss of his sister, managed to go without being issued a technical foul.
As a coach, Herm Weaver obviously wasn’t happy with the temperament being displayed by his only son. Yet as a father, he also knew there remained a gamut of emotions Dillon Weaver had to work out on his own.
“I couldn’t really completely believe it at the time, and it took me a while to get past that and that it was actually true,” Dillon Weaver said. “I was just in shock. (Basketball) can be an outlet for me, and a lot of the time it is, but I was also finding myself getting a lot of technicals. It was hard for me to play the game. I’ve grown a lot.”
A former basketball player at Nederland, 20-year old Chloe Weaver was killed almost instantly when a driver, later identified as a 16-year old who quickly was apprehended, collided with her on County Rd. 108S in Alamosa.
Just a few days after the accident, Dillon got a memorial tattoo on the inside of his left wrist in a design that matched a tattoo owned by his sister, and also matched tattoos received by his father, mother, and older sister Hope, a student at Northern Colorado. Additionally, Dillon Weaver changed his jersey number that season to No. 21 in honor of the number formerly worn by Chloe. Dillon Weaver later added a second tattoo on his right shoulder that reads, in decorative fashion, “family.”
“The tattoos are a big part of who I am now,” Dillon Weaver said. “She was always the best player on her team, and I always wanted to do that. She helped me realize there are a lot of other responsibilities that come with being the best player on the team.”
Now in their third season in the wake of their family tragedy, Herm Weaver and his sharpshooting son are reveling in their final tour together with the Nederland basketball team. Dillon Weaver began the week averaging 22.9 point a game, a mark that ranked fourth in Class 2A and 10th overall in the state.
Last Friday, Weaver poured in 44 points against Alexander Dawson. It almost seems fitting that every time Dillon Weaver raises up for a shot, the tattoo dedicated to his late sister invariably flashes before his eyes.
“It is really tough coaching your son, and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone,” Herm Weaver said. “I wouldn’t have done it except for this rather unusual circumstance. I want to be the best dad I can for Dillon, and to be his coach makes that really hard. But it provides an opportunity for us to take our relationship to a deeper level.”
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