It would be hard to coach a sport for 44 years that you didn't love.

That's why Pete Weishan focused his acceptance speech on Sunday to his love for the game of basketball. Love for that sport has kept Weishan around locker rooms and sidelines for nearly a half-century, all at the Salamanca school district.

Weishan and eight others comprised the New York State Basketball Hall of Fame's Class of 2019, honored with a ceremony Sunday at the Glens Falls Civic Arena.

Weishan and his family, including his wife Kathy, stayed at the Fort Henry Hotel overlooking Lake George — which he called “really nice, really, really nice — on Saturday, attending a reception for the inductees and state basketball committee members. Then on Sunday, they attended the induction brunch for a group of about 300.

“I was the last one of course because of the 'W' in the alphabet, which was good, I'm glad I was last,” he said with a laugh.

After hearing his fellow inductees’ speeches, Weishan got the last word.

“Most of (the speech) was about my love for the game,” Weishan said, “and when it started and how it built year after year after year and some of the special moments that happened in your career, plus all the thanks to my wife and family for being so supportive and just the little things that happened, kind of a brief reflection of your coaching life.”

Weishan also thanked the school for allowing him to coach for so long.

“Just the school for allowing me to do it for 44 years,” he said. “When I was asked by another reporter what it meant to me, I said 'Well, it means a lot for all the kids that I've coached, or the coaches that have coached under me and for the school that was willing to hire me for this long.' It's just like a validation for my love for the game.”

In a few different roles, mainly as varsity boys coach but also a stint as girls varsity coach and currently with the boys junior varsity, Weishan has 423 career victories, including eight league titles and eight Section 6 final appearances. He also spent 30 years on the Section 6 boys basketball committee and 25 as the school’s athletic director. In 1997-98, his Warriors squad went 20-0 — the only undefeated regular season in school history — and he won the Times Herald’s Big 30 Coach of the Year award.

After receiving word about his induction in October, Weishan spent the last few months reflecting on his long tenure as a Salamanca basketball coach. He had to jog his memory for some specifics.

“It just makes you start to rehash,” he said. “and I went through some records and went through some players' lists and stuff, just to refresh my memory because I've been doing it so long (as to) when people graduated or not. I watched a few highlight tapes that I had over the years, so just to look back and see the things that happened. I was thinking about the number of coaches that have come and gone, through the other schools.”

And just because Weishan entered the state basketball hall of fame, he doesn’t plan to hang up his clipboard and whistle soon. This week he’s planning to coach some of the best New York senior boys from the Big 30 Senior Classic on Sunday afternoon at Portville Central School.

He also plans to return to basketball in his current role as JV boys coach at Salamanca. His JV Warriors went 17-3 this season.

“I'm planning on coming back,” he said. “I'm planning on doing it. Right now, I really enjoyed this year and I had great kids and I've got some really good kids coming and I'm really kind of looking forward to it. I'm planning on at least a couple more, we'll see, it all depends. As long as I keep loving it like I do and I've got halfway decent kids, I'll probably stick around. It's hard to say. It depends on what my wife and I decide eventually.”

(Salamanca Press sports editor Sam Wilson may be contacted at swilson@oleantimesherald.com)