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Wesleyan's Azar honored to be in Hall of Fame

Wesleyan girls basketball coach Jan Azar will be inducted Saturday into the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame.

Wesleyan girls basketball coach Jan Azar will be inducted Saturday into the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame.

The one thing Jan Azar knew previously about the Gwinnett County Sports Hall of Fame was all she needed to know.

“Eddie Martin went in last year and that makes it a big honor because I respect him a lot,” Azar said. “To be in a class with a coach like Eddie, that means a great deal.”

While Martin is one of the state’s most accomplished boys basketball coaches — with tenures at Brookwood, Norcross and Greater Atlanta Christian — Azar has few peers in terms of her teams’ success in girls basketball.

Azar, who will be inducted into the Gwinnett Hall of Fame during Saturday’s Gwinnett Braves game, has led Wesleyan’s girls to nine state titles in an 11-season span, including the last five in a row. She’s already won more girls basketball state titles than any coach in Georgia history.

She’s also the first coach in the state, boys or girls, to win eight championships in a nine-year stretch. Her career record is a sterling 381-81, good for an 82.5 winning percentage.

She’s responsible for quickly turning Wesleyan from a brand-new program into one of the biggest powerhouses in state history, making the Wolves’ decision to hire a young and inexperienced coach more than 13 years ago a good one.

“(Wesleyan headmaster) Zach Young gave me this opportunity when nobody else gave me a head coaching job,” Azar said. “He believed in me starting this thing.”

Azar is quick to praise others for their roles in Wesleyan’s girls basketball success. Her current assistants Andy Free, Nichole Dixon, Mary Stephenson and Demetrius Frazier. Longtime athletic department member Carole Crighton. Her husband David.

She even credits her first high school coach at St. Pius, Bill Casey.

“(Casey’s) the reason I coached basketball in the first place,” Azar said. “I learned a lot from him and he’s the one who got me excited about being a basketball player. He taught a lot about not just basketball, but teaching players the important things that will help them succeed in their lives.”

Azar hopes she instills those same kind of values in her players. Sure, her teams win a bunch of games. But she also focuses heavily on teaching life lessons.

And she’s far from done teaching and coaching.

She’s still young, as are her children, 10-year-old Nicole and 6-year-old Andrew, and she still enjoys what she’s doing.

She’s already a hall of famer, but she isn’t calling it quits any time soon.

“I’m nowhere near done,” Azar said. “I still love what I’m doing. Why I enjoy is about a lot more than winning state championships. The impact we have off the court with the girls is a lot more important to me.”