Wilkes University Director of Athletics Addy Malatesta recently announced that Lehighton native Christopher Heery has been named the new head women's basketball coach for the Lady Colonels. He becomes the 13th head coach in the 51-year history of the program.
"I am looking forward to the challenge of building a program that is competitive in such a challenging league," said Heery. "One of my passions is teaching the game of basketball and I can't wait to bring that passion to the Lady Colonels."
For the past six seasons, Heery has served as assistant coach at Muhlenberg College under Ron Rohn. In his first season of 2005-06, the Lady Mules experienced one of the biggest turnarounds in NCAA Division III history – ending the season with a 26-3 record after being 11-14 the previous year. The 26 wins was a school record. That year, Muhlenberg won the Centennial Conference championship and advanced to the NCAA tournament.
The 2008-09 Lady Mules finished 18-0 in the Centennial Conference, the first undefeated team in conference history. That team finished the year 26-4, advancing to the NCAA tournament round of 16 for the first time in school history.
During his six years at Muhlenberg, the Lady Mules posted a 131-31 overall record – claiming four Centennial Conference championships, five NCAA tournament appearances, and two trips to the "Sweet 16".
Prior to his arrival at Muhlenberg College, Heery was head women's basketball coach at neighboring Cedar Crest College for five seasons. During his tenure there, Heery guided the Falcons to set several team records – including most rebounds in a game, most rebounds in a season, most three-point shots made, and highest three-point percentage by a player.
During the 2000-01 season, Heery helped Angela Ensley lead Division III in scoring with a 26.1 average, while she finished third in the country in three-pointers made. Also that season, Tiffany Stewart grabbed 346 rebounds (14.4 per game average) – earning her third place in Division III.
A 1991 graduate of Kutztown University, Heery spent nine seasons as assistant girls' basketball coach at Northwestern Lehigh High School under Lehigh Valley coaching great Terry Balliet. An educator, he spent 15 years teaching middle school and another five years at the university level.
Heery began his coaching career at SS. Peter and Paul Parish in Lehighton, serving the C.Y.O. (Catholic Youth Organization) girls' basketball program for six years.
For the past 15 summers, Heery has honed his basketball coaching skills at Coach Wootten's Basketball Camp, working alongside legendary high school basketball and Hall of Fame coach, Morgan Wootten – the winningest coach in the history of organized sports. Heery has also run summer youth basketball camps in Lehighton – as well as coaching clinics for youth basketball coaches.
"This year, I will rely heavily on the experience and leadership of our returning players," said Heery. "Our team will lean on them to help get us through our competitive Freedom Conference schedule."
A son of Francis and Catherine Heery of Lehighton, Heery also lives in Lehighton with his wife, Gretchen, and four sons – Joseph, Ryan, Sean, and Stephen.