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March 30, 2013

PREP SPORTS: Knight resigns as St. Bernard AD, coach

CULLMAN — Cullman’s local golf courses can expect to see an uptick in tee times from Wade Knight for the foreseeable future.

The longtime coach’s schedule recently cleared up quite a bit after he resigned as the athletic director, boys basketball coach and baseball coach at St. Bernard.

Fr. Joel Martin said Knight unexpectedly stepped down from all three positions the week before the prep school’s scheduled spring break. As St. Bernard’s president, Martin wished the best for Knight but was obviously sad to see him go.

“He’s a great man, very dedicated, exactly what we wanted,” Martin said. “I tried to talk him into staying, but he decided it would be the best move to make and go ahead and get somebody new here. It’s just really sad for us to lose him.”

In victory or defeat, Martin always knew to expect the same upbeat, confident attitude out of Knight.

“You know him, he doesn’t have a negative thought,” the president said. “They’re going to be state champions every time you talk to him.”

Many of the Saints’ athletic programs improved drastically during Knight’s three-year reign as AD and coach. One of the clearest progressions could be seen on the basketball court, where he’s spent the majority of his 41-year coaching career.

After winning just two games Knight’s first year on the job, St. Bernard’s boys bumped its total to seven the next season. In the 2012-13 campaign, which turned out to be Knight’s last, senior standouts Sean Moriarty and JaDavian Roland led the Saints to a much-improved 13-10 mark, easily the team’s best record in recent memory.

“The players bought in, and their work ethic and commitment improved every year,” Knight said. “We wanted to make the program respectable, and I think we accomplished that.”

Knight cited personal reasons for his decision to resign but made it very clear he has no ill will toward St. Bernard or any of the school’s employees or students.

“I think sometimes it’s just time to go,” he said. “Maybe somebody else can come in there and keep it going. That’s what I hope anyway because St. Bernard has always been a special place to me.”

Knight’s father-in-law is former coach Charlie Richards, a Saints’ sports legend, and his wife, Ruth Anne, has taught at the school for more than 20 years.

After dedicating the last four decades to being the best teacher and coach he can be, Knight is ready to spend some time enjoying activities like golf, fishing and hunting. He said he’d also like to focus on his kids and his family before pursuing any opportunities that might arise.

“It’s been a fun time for me, but now I’m kind of looking to the future,” Knight said. “Right now, I just want to play for awhile. I’m still a young man. If the right thing comes along, I’ll know.”

With Knight’s departure, well-known cross country and track and field coach William Calvert has stepped in as the school’s interim athletic director, while Johnny Tekulve has taken over the baseball team for the remainder of the season.

Martin said that arrangement will work until the end of the current school year but that he’d like to fill each open position “as quickly as possible” this summer in order for the new hires to be in good standing with the Alabama High School Athletic Association by the fall.

 

% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at robk@cullmantimes.com.

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