Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 7/1/09
Chris Bates saw first-hand the re-emergence of the Princeton men’s lacrosse program as a national powerhouse during his days as a player at Dartmouth. Now, 20 years later, it will be Bates who guides the Tigers in the next chapter in their storied history.
Bates, who has spent the last 10 years as the head coach at Drexel University, has become the 10th head men’s lacrosse at Princeton University. He replaces Hall of Fame coach Bill Tierney, who left to become the head coach at Denver.
“This is a great opportunity for me and my family,” says Bates. “The University speaks for itself in terms of the caliber of what Princeton stands for and what it does. The second piece of that is the tradition and history of the men’s lacrosse program. I’m honored to be taking the reins.”
Bates has coached Drexel to 31 wins in the last three seasons, or one more win than the 30 Princeton has had in that same time span. Drexel has won two Colonial Athletic Association championships in the last three years, and Bates led his team to the program’s first-ever win over a No. 1-ranked team when the Dragons knocked off Virginia in 2007.
Bates also coached in the Catholic League and has been a leader in Philadelphia lacrosse for the Philadelphia Lacrosse Association. He has been instrumental in helping build programs for city youths and has led the drive to get scholastic teams into the Public League.
Drexel lacrosse had reached double figures in wins three times in 60 seasons before Bates won 11 games in 2007 and 13 games in 2008. He inherits a team at Princeton that went 13-3 a year ago and reached the No. 1 spot in the national rankings in midseason before earning a share of the Ivy League title and reaching the NCAA quarterfinals. Princeton returns six starters, including three All-Americas, for 2010.
“We’re delighted that Chris Bates is becoming our new head coach,” says Princeton Director of Athletics Gary Walters. “He has a wonderful track record at Drexel, a program that he built from scratch. We believe that experience, coupled with his experience as an Ivy League student-athlete, will translate well to Princeton and has provided him with a strong understanding of the role athletics plays in contributing to a Princeton education.”
Bates is a 1990 graduate of Dartmouth, where he played attack and midfield and earned All-Ivy League honors. He was 1-3 as a player against Princeton, including an 11-4 loss in 1990 in the third-to-last game of his college career. Princeton would go on in 1990 to make the program’s first NCAA tournament appearance; Princeton has played in 18 of the last 20 NCAA tournaments and won six championships.
Bates played in the North-South all-star game after his senior year and graduated with a degree in psychology before earning a master’s in education from North Carolina. He played for eight seasons in the Major Indoor Lacrosse League (now the National Lacrosse League) and won three championships with the Philadelphia Wings while earning all-pro honors in his one season with the Charlotte Cobras.
His coaching career began in 1992, when he started the program at Archbishop Ryan in Philadelphia. He became an assistant coach at Drexel in 1995 and took over as head coach in 2000.
His first two seasons saw the Dragons go 1-10 and 5-8, but he is 64-53 since, including 31-17 the last three years.
“I will try to do it my own way, Chris Bates-style,” he says. “We’ve tried to create a culture of excellence at Drexel. We hold the players to high standards in everything they do, from preparation on the field to the classroom to being good citizens. We try to do thing the right way and keep a positive and upbeat environment. We challenge them to be as good as they can be. That’s what I stand for, and that’s what we’re going to do at Princeton.”
Bates is a native of Katonah, N.Y., and a member of the Hudson Valley Lacrosse Hall of Fame. He and his wife Ann, a pediatrician, have a seven-year-old son Nicholas.
“We are confident that our process has brought us the right person for the Princeton men’s lacrosse program,” Walters says. “I especially want to thank [former Princeton All-Americas] Jon Hess and Mark Kovler and [longtime assistant coach] Bryce Chase for their participation on our search committee.
“We feel that every member of the Princeton lacrosse family, from our alums to our current and future players to our fans, can be excited about having Chris Bates as the new Princeton men’s lacrosse coach. He will be starting immediately during this crucial recruiting period and then focus his energies on the current team once the school year begins.”