Meridian - Meridian Community College lost one of its most legendary Eagles last week. Lou Weddington Hart passed away at the age of 67 Thursday, April 16, 2020.
MCC President Tom Huebner said, "Lou was an absolute treasure to us here at MCC. Her smile could light up a room, and her ability to love and encourage others made a difference in so many lives, including mine."
Lou was a lifelong Eagle both as a player and as a coach. Lou was the first female to play on a men's collegiate golf team. She joined MCC's men's golf team in 1971 and helped lead the Eagles to two consecutive MACJC conference titles in 1971 and 1972. At MCC, Hart also excelled in the classroom, and she was awarded the HM Ivy award as the college's top student. In 2002 Lou was honored with the highest honor Meridian Community College can bestow when she was named a charter member of the MCC Hall of Fame.
West Virginia University Head Golf Coach Sean Covich was both a player for Hart and her successor at MCC in 2006. Covich said," I wouldn't be where I am today, as a coach or as a person, without Lou." Covich also said, " Lou had a presence about her whenever she walked into a room. She always had an energy about her that was positive and energetic. As players for Lou, we all felt like she was our second mother, and she treated us that way." "
After two successful seasons at Meridian, Lou transferred to Florida State University, where she received an athletic scholarship to play for the women's golf team.
Over three decades as an amateur golfer, Hart compiled nine Mississippi Women's Golf Association state amateur titles. She was a quarterfinalist at the 1978 Women's Southern Golf Association (WSGA) Amateur Championship, the qualifier for the 1979 USGA National Women's Amateur Championship and two-time medalist in the USGA Women's Mid-Amateur Championship in 1987 and 1991. At the 2003 USGA Senior Women's Amateur Championship, Hart earned a tie for sixth place after the 36-hole qualifier.
Lou returned to Meridian in 1994 and assumed the position of head coach for the Eagles men's golf team. During her tenure, Meridian compiled seven NJCAA Region 23 championships and claimed a runner-up finish at the 1998 NJCAA Division II Men's Golf Championship – the highest finish in program history. At the time of her retirement from Meridian in 2006, Hart had coached 12 NJCAA All-Americans, eight regional medalists, and four NJCAA Academic Student-Athlete Award winners.
In 2016 Lou Weddington Hart became the first female inducted into the NJCAA Men's Golf Coaches Association Hall of Fame. This comes after being selected into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and the MACJC Hall of Fame in 2007.
Dr. Huebner said, "In the hours following her passing, one of our staff members used the word "legendary" to describe her impact on our campus. She made history as a student-athlete, as many know, and her success as a coach will be remembered for decades. Her most significant contribution, though, was her investment in the lives of so many students who, because they knew her, became better people. She was an exceptional person, and I'm so blessed to have known her."