Eric Coulter wiped the tears from his face Tuesday night and admitted it’s been a rough couple days.
The Alter High School boys basketball coach watched his team advance to the Division II sectional finals with a 60-51 victory over Badin at Fairmont’s Trent Arena, then reflected on the death of his father Charles, who passed away Saturday morning.
“Saturday was a tough day, no question,” said Coulter, whose Knights began sectional play with a 64-54 win over Ponitz on Saturday afternoon. “On my way here to Trent, my phone was lighting up. I had like 22 texts from former Alter players saying stuff like, ‘Coach, I love you. I’m so sorry to hear about your dad.’
DIVISION I: La Salle 67, Hamilton 57
DIVISION II: Alter 60, Badin 51
“Coaching at Alter can be tough. The expectations are off the charts. Everybody’s expecting us to do well every year, and they can be hard on a coach … fans, boosters, parents, everybody. But when something like this happens, we are at our best. The community is unbelievable.
“I told my guys to never, ever take for granted that uniform they put on. When I had to put my phone down with all those texts, that to me was like, ‘I’m at the right place. This is a great place to be.’ ”
Charles Coulter, a longtime coach, was in hospice when he died at the age of 70. His coaching career was an inspiration to his son, who’s in his fifth year at the Alter helm after working under legendary Knights coach Joe Petrocelli.
Eric Coulter said his players are special to him, and they’ve reacted with compassion in trying to do whatever they can for their coach.
And it’s not just his players. Badin’s players offered their condolences before Tuesday’s game.
“I felt fine going into it,” Coulter said. “And then all these kids come over, every one of them individually, and they’re telling me they’re sorry about my loss. I was just trying to keep it together.
“I’ve always respected Gerry Weisgerber immensely. That’s a class program run by a class coach. The (Greater Catholic League) is class. When you’re a GCL team, even though you go to war and and you fight, you still support and love your fellow GCL team.”
Weisgerber, who actually coached Coulter in an Ohio-Indiana all-star game in 1989, said he didn’t make his players approach the Alter coach.
“I just told them it would be a good gesture if they wanted to go do that, and they did,” Weisgerber said. “I’m glad to see that’s the character of the kids at Badin. I look at it like coaches are all part of a family, and when a family’s hurting, it’s up to the rest of the family members to help them out.”