By Chris Yow
MURFREESBORO — Karly Weathers has a Major League Baseball-playing brother and a World Series champion father — but it’s Kelli, her Belmont University basketball hall of fame mother, who drives her to be the best she can be.
“From Day One, she’s emphasized that you have to outwork whoever you’re going against. She has that hard-working mentality that I can’t explain,” Karly said Saturday after leading Loretto to a 49-41 Class A state championship victory over Summertown and being named tournament most valuable player and Miss Basketball.
“Some parents who are really good athletes kind of leave their kids behind and don’t push them or will send them to trainers. My mom was my trainer. I get to feed off her mentality.”
Fortunately for Kelli, her daughter had no problem when that hard-worker mentality would come through while training or rearing her middle child. Knowing just how hard to push can be difficult for a great athlete-turned-parent/coach.
“That’s the balance I’ve had to find over the years, but Karly’s wired differently than a lot of kids,” Kelli said. “When she was younger, I knew I needed to get into her hard, and the harder I got into her, the harder she played. As she’s gotten older, that’s changed a little, but she’s self-driven and a perfectionist.”
Growing up in a house full of special athletes, Karly never lacked for competition. Game night at the Weathers house can be intense — especially between she and brother Ryan, who won a baseball state championship as a senior with Loretto, and — until now — could poke fun at his little sister about it.
“Ryan put that ‘dog’ mentality inside of me, too,” Karly said. “Any time we would go outside and play, if my shot wasn’t good enough it was going to end up in a bush.”
As a fifth grader, Kelli coached Karly to an AAU D-1 national title. That doesn’t compare to this season. Karly and her Loretto teammates from the 2020-21 Class A state championship team began playing together as third-graders (second grade in Karly’s case).
“When she first started playing basketball, the only thing she wanted was to win a state championship,” Kelli said. “She loves these girls. She wanted this one with this group because they have played together since they were in second and third grade.”
Had they not won, however, Kelli says her daughter would have taken it in stride as their family has always done.
“(Our family) learned a long time ago that if the worst thing that happens to us today is we lose a game, we are blessed people,” Kelli said. “We just compete and compete hard. Of course we try to win, but when we don’t we understand the victory is the Lord’s, and not ours.”
That faith in Christ has been the primary driving factor for Karly through the years, and many times, Kelli said, it’s Karly who picks her up.
“Karly is one of the strongest Christians I know, and I admire her for her heart for the Lord,” Kelli said. “She takes a lot of negativity from opposing crowds and competition, and sometimes as her mom, I hear more comments from others and I struggle with it more than she does.
“She will tell me, ‘Mom, it’s their cross to bear.’”
Karly credits her mother for the faith she has in God, and added that if she needs someone to bring her worldly troubles that mom is always there.
“She’s the strongest Christian lady I’ve ever met, and she’s instilled those values into me,” Karly said. “She’s my best friend, and the one I come to with anything I am going through. She’s my person. I’m very thankful for the way she’s raised me.”
The competitive drive and spirit, along with the faith in God that everything will work out has allowed Karly and her family to be highly successful in their athletic careers and personal lives. Karly isn’t content with the success of her family, though. She’s here to make sure World Series rings and numbers hanging in the Curb Event Center rafters don’t define her.
“In our family, you have to go out there and prove yourself,” Karly said. “I don’t want to live as Ryan’s younger sister or David and Kelli’s daughter, I want to make a name for myself.
“I want to be Karly.”