Posted: June 11, 2007
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Lehigh head men’s lacrosse coach Chris Wakely has announced that he will step down from his current position effective June 30. Wakely has been battling Multiple Sclerosis for the past four years and determined that the requirements of a head coaching position were too significant to also effectively manage the health challenges associated with the illness. “My wife, Danielle, and I, along with Lehigh's Murray H. Goodman Dean of Athletics Joe Sterrett, have been evaluating my capacity to manage my symptoms in the context of my role as Lehigh's Head Men's Lacrosse Coach. Danielle and I have concluded, and Joe Sterrett is supportive, that it is time to step away from coaching and pursue a different life path,” Wakely said.
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system where internal inflammation impacts the nerve signals that control muscle coordination, strength, sensation, and sometimes vision. An integral aspect of lifestyle management of MS is avoiding or minimizing certain conditions that tend to have an adverse affect on MS symptoms. These include avoiding or minimizing exposure to extreme weather conditions, high levels of continual stress, fatigue, and more.
After engaging in numerous talks throughout the recent weeks, Wakely and Sterrett decided that the lifestyle of a college lacrosse coach is one that will always be in direct conflict with a lifestyle that is most compatible with MS.
“As I look back on my six years as head coach, I have many wonderful memories of my interaction with the student-athletes, more so than of any games we played in. As exciting as the competition was, the meaningful interaction I shared with the kids in our program will always be my lasting memory,” said Wakely.
Wakely led the Mountain Hawks to two Patriot League Tournament appearances in his time on South Mountain. Other highlights of Wakely’s tenure include victories over five nationally ranked teams, three Academic All-Americans, two Patriot League Scholar Athletes of the Year, 15 All-Patriot League selections, the 2006 Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year, three North-South All-Star Classic selections, and the top scorer in the country in 2003.
“Chris has wonderful qualities and professional skills and we both believe he has the capacity to contribute significantly to our athletics mission for many years to come,” Lehigh Dean of Athletics Joe Sterrett explained. “We have been and will continue working together to identify a role for him that will align his many talents and capabilities with our needs and with overall organizational considerations. In the meantime, we will begin a search process to find a new lacrosse coach. I feel quite fortunate to have Chris as a consultant and active participant in the search and as a result, I am confident that we will identity a highly qualified candidate to continue the building process in our lacrosse program.”
“The lacrosse program here at Lehigh has experienced a lot of great wins and great moments during my six years as head coach,” Wakely explained. “We competed well within the Patriot League and also outside of the league versus nationally ranked teams. Everyone associated with the program, including the student-athletes, the parents, the alumni and myself included, are excited to see how this change will bring in a new set of ideas and a new voice to listen to.”
He continued, “Although this is not what anyone anticipated or would have preferred the upside is that we have developed momentum within the program and now there is a chance for someone else to build upon that momentum. There is a lot of potential at Lehigh and within the Patriot League and it’s exciting to see that Lehigh University recognizes this and wants to be an integral part of the progression.”
Lehigh will begin a national search for a new men’s lacrosse coach immediately.