Dan Wiedman had the time of his life Sunday.
And he embraced it. Wiedman, starting his 22nd season as the Marquette Catholic High softball coach, was inducted into the Illinois Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“It was a pretty nice honor and we had a good time,” said Wiedman, a 1973 Alton High graduate and Fosterburg resident. “It’s more about the recognition of the program, not specifically one individual.”
The ceremony unfolded at the Chateau Hotel in Bloomington. The 60-year-old Wiedman, who has compiled a 456-236 record with the Explorers since 1995, joined three other inductees. Dwain Nance of Marengo, Darla Moldenhauer of Bradley-Bourbonnais and Kevin Hayhurst of Beecher also were enshrined.
“What I enjoy most about coaching is working with the kids,” Wiedman said. “It’s all about them. I still have a strong passion for the game, but I’m more laid-back now than when I was a younger coach. You evolve as a coach and more than anything else now, I oversee the program.”
Daughter Mary serves as a Marquette assistant. She joined siblings Megan, Ben and Jessica, along with Dan’s wife, Joan, at the HOF festivities.
“We had 17 people there, including family and people from Marquette,” Wiedman said. The banquet welcomed 150 in all.
Greg Easter, softball president of the ICA, said Wiedman was a deserving honoree. Triad’s Bruce Lewis (2015) and Cahokia’s Teresa (Burris) Arnold (2014) are other Southwestern Illinois coaches who were elected the past two years.
“Dan goes back a long way in our organization and I’m pleased to be giving him this award,” Easter said of the HOF honor. “He has done a good job for a lot of years and Dan is the only coach from Southern Illinois to be inducted this year.”
The ICA has been enshrining coaches statewide since 1998 and Easter said the organization has honored more than 50 of them for softball.
“Dan is a great example as a coach,” Easter said. “It’s all about the kids with him and that’s the way it should be for coaches. All of his time, dedication and hard work is greatly appreciated.
“We are proud to recognize his contributions to softball.”
Wiedman’s teams have won 20 or more games 10 times and recorded 30 or more wins 4 times. The Explorers have experienced only one losing season the past 21 years, when they were 10-25 in 2014. The Explorers went 22-14 last spring.
Overall, they have won eight conference championships, seven regional titles and four sectional crowns during Wiedman’s coaching career.
They were at their best from 2010-13, the years standout Alexis Silkwood pitched for them. Marquette posted a composite 122-27 record and captured four regional and sectional championships.
The Explorers finished second in the 2013 Class 3A state finals, took third in the 2011 Class 2A finals and were fourth in the 2010 Class 2A finals.
Silkwood, now a junior at Mississippi State, established IHSA records for victories (124), shutouts (100), no-hitters (54) and strikeouts (1,908). She also pitched 15 perfect games.
“We really had a lot of fun those four years,” Wiedman said. “There were a lot of close, intense games that could have gone either way. They were many competitive games and that made them fun, win or lose.”
Come spring, Wiedman will begin another softball season and there’s no telling how many more years he will coach. His day job is serving as an information technology specialist at Boeing in St. Louis. Wiedman has done that for 34 years.
“It’s sort of one year at a time now, depending upon how I feel,” he said about coaching. “But I want to stay involved as long as I enjoy it and I still have a passion for softball.”
He played men’s fast-pitch in the Alton city league for 25 years, then turned to coaching and didn’t miss a beat. The ICA certainly thought so in honoring Wiedman.
“When you are honored,” Wiedman said of the HOF, “it kind of makes you reflect on your coaching career and what the players have accomplished.”
He quipped, “And when you get a nice award like that, it means you have been around for a long time.”
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