More than a game

Head coach Robert Weiner accepts out of state job

Kate Caranante, Sports Editor

Former head coach Robert Weiner believes that football is about more than just winning. 

“That’s the way to look at it,” Weiner said. “It’s not about football, it’s not about winning, it’s about people.” 

Just after graduating from Boston College, Weiner moved to Los Angeles, California where he worked for a year as the manager of a retail store. While working there, Weiner applied for teaching jobs at various Jesuit high schools around the country.  

I had some options, but eventually got a call back from my alma mater Jesuit High School here in Tampa,” Weiner said. “When I went back there all of my biggest mentors were all coaches. Coach Wild Bill Minahan, who I was his right-hand man in high school, was the athletic director and Coach Dominick Ciao was the head football coach. They asked me if I wanted to assist Dominick and be one of his assistants. I said yeah and that started it.” 

At Jesuit, Weiner served as an English teacher for mainly juniors and seniors while also being the school’s community service director. Weiner also spent time as an assistant coach for both baseball and basketball. In 2003, Ciao stepped down as the Jesuit head coach. 

“Dominick is such a self-sacrificing man that he thought I was ready for a job,” Weiner said. “He stepped down so that I might get that opportunity, but at the end of that time even though I had been at Jesuit for 15 years and kind of been Jesuit true and true, a Jesuit grad and a Jesuit teacher and of all those things they ended up giving the job to someone else, which was fine, it was their decision to make.” 

Immediately after that, Weiner was offered a job as the head baseball coach about an hour away atCrystal River High School and went.  

“I went up to Crystal River as the head baseball coach and had a good season up there with them,” Weiner said. “Then got offered the Plant job later in the spring of that year. I took the Plant job under one circumstance.” 

The one circumstance was that the Plant Administration agreed to hold the announcement until Crystal River’s baseball season came to an end.  

“I felt like my kids at Crystal River had been through a lot with the change of coaches and that they deserved to get my full attention,” Weiner said. “I really wanted to make sure that we did that.” 

In 2004, Weiner began his term as the head football coach of Plant. For the next 16 seasons Weiner and his staff built up the Plant football program to championship level.  

“The team had kind of dropped down in terms of numbers of players in both our senior and junior varsity,” Weiner said. “We took over the program when it was time to make some changes to bring the program to another level and that’s what we intended to do.” 

The first state championship for Weiner would come in 2006 and three more followed in the next five seasons. These seasons, full of victory, created many memories, but Weiner made it clear that’s not theonly thing footbalmeans to him.  

“There are a million magical moments of my time at Plant,” Weiner said. “I know it sounds like a broken record but my favorite thing about Plant is the people. I love the faculty at Plant that’s dedicated to the same vision that we had in football, just the development of young people. My coaching staff has alwaysbeen dedicated to that vision, but most of all it is the kids.” 

On Thursday, Jan. 2 Weiner held meeting in the field house to announce to his coaches and players that he would be taking a job at the University of Toledo as a co-offensive coordinator as well asquarterback coach.  

It wasn’t an easy decision to make because of the people,” Weiner said. The people at Plant right now and the people who would be in the future, are people that I love and will continue to love and do anything I can for anytime I can. 

In his years at PlantWeiner taught many students and coached many players who went on to do big things whether that be academically or athletically.  

“In my first days of leaving Plant to go to Toledo I felt like I was a college student again,” Weiner said. “I was just terribly homesick, but I wasn’t home sick for home — I was homesick for my guys. When you invest that much time and heart and soul into that it’s something that carves its way deep into your heart and so that’s really what had affected me the most.” 

At the age of 55, Weiner sees this opportunity as a way to reinvigorate his career.  “Most people would think that a coach is one who constantly teaches people about chasing your dreams and goals and stuff like that but I am not a goal oriented person,” Weiner said. I am a person who finds something that will be good and worthy to do and I’m going to pour myself into it with everything that I haveMy goals in life and dreams are to just be the best coach I can possibly be for the kids that I’m coaching every single day.