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Plant’s Weiner wins new car at coaches banquet
Posted Apr 21, 2012 by Bill Ward
Updated Apr 21, 2012 at 10:48 PM
To think, he almost didn’t come.
Plant football coach Robert Weiner won the grand prize at the annual Hillsborough County Coaches Banquet when his name was drawn for a new car on Saturday night at the Downtown Hyatt. The car is a 2012 Ford Focus and is donated by area Ford dealers.
Earlier in the day, Weiner was in Atlanta with his two quarterbacks with varsity experience, Aaron Banks and Colby Brown, attending the Elite 11 quarterback camp. Saturday night, he was scheduled to speak at a coaching clinic in Daytona Beach and was planning to attend that, not the coaches banquet. But when he received news of the clinic’s cancellation, he broke out his suit and got ready for the dinner in Tampa.
“I’m just floored,” Weiner said. “It was such an honor to have Joan Steinbrenner (the widow of George Steinbrenner) to be the one to present me the award.
“I told everyone there ‘I know there’s going to be people that hate that I won this because they think Plant wins everything but it’s such an honor.’ ‘’
The banquet draws approximately 1,200 people and is sponsored by the Steinbrenner family and the New York Yankees. It’s often referred to as the “Coaches Prom” and was conceived by the late Yankees owner, who wanted to reward high school coaches for their hard work with youths and their relatively low pay as high school coaches.
To be eligible to win the car award, a coach must have at least 20 years of service. Weiner has logged 24—15 at his alma mater, Jesuit, one year at Crystal River High and the last eight at Plant, where he has guided the Panthers to four state championship titles in football.
Weiner said in the 23 years he has been attending the banquet, the only other prize he won were four tickets to a Tampa Bay Devil Rays game.
“And that’s when they were the Devil Rays, when not too many people wanted to go to their games,’’ Weiner said. “I think our seats were four rows from the top of the stadium.”
Weiner said he hasn’t given much thought of whether he will keep the car or, as the winner is given as options, trade it in for another vehicle or take a check for the value of the car, minus taxes.
There were plenty of other giveaways at the banquet, including Yankees spring-training tickets, a suite at Tropicana Field for Rays games, Lightning season-tickets and trips to such places as Las Vegas and New York. There were also eight separate giveaways of $2,500.