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Legendary Princeton coach Sailer (Haverford High) announces she will retire after 2022 season

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021

Categories College, Girl's/Women's, Posted 11/23/21
From Press Release

Legendary Hall of Fame head coach Chris Sailer (Haverford High) has announced that the 2022 season — her 36th year as head coach at Princeton — will be her final season as head coach of women’s lacrosse with the Tigers.

Chris Sailer (Photos courtesy of Princeton Athletics)

“I have spent most of my adult life as a Tiger and this place, this program, and most especially the people I have worked with here have made coaching at Princeton the joy of a lifetime for me,” said Sailer. “I am forever grateful to former Athletic Director Bob Myslik for turning over the reins of this program in the summer of 1986 to a young, unproven coach.

“Thirty-six short years later I will depart after this season with a lifetime of memories and stories, treasured friendships, more professional growth and success than I ever imagined, and a heart that bleeds Orange and Black. Of all that I am proud of in my career, what means most to me is the Princeton Lacrosse Family. There will always be a special place in my heart for my Princeton teams, for every player I’ve been privileged to coach here, for every assistant coach who gave their all to help us be successful, and for all the women whose hard work established this program before my tenure began.

“My heart is filled with gratitude and love for all that Princeton Lacrosse has brought to my life. There is no question, I am a Tiger for life.”

The impact made by Chris Sailer not only across Princeton University and Princeton Athletics but in the growth of women’s sports is lasting and immeasurable.

“Chris Sailer is an icon in women’s intercollegiate athletics,” said Ford Family Director of Athletics John Mack ’00. “She is an unrivaled educator, mentor, and competitor whose impact reaches far beyond the student-athletes she has coached. Chris has changed countless lives for the better, and Princeton Athletics would not be what it is without her.”

A three-time NCAA champion, 15-time Ivy League champion, and five-time Ivy League Tournament champion, Sailer’s coaching career at Princeton began in 1987. Two years later, she had the Tigers in the NCAA semifinals for the first time in program history. Four years after that, in 1993, she guided the Tigers to their first-ever national final appearance. In 1994, she took the next step as the Tigers defeated Maryland, 10-7, in College Park to claim the program’s first national championship.

Beginning with that first national tournament selection in 1989, Sailer has made a habit of deep runs in May. Her teams have not just qualified for NCAA Tournaments, they have won. Over a 31-year span from 1989 through 2019, the Tigers qualified for 26 NCAA Tournaments and secured at least one victory in 23 of those 26 appearances while reaching 11 championship weekends. Overall, Sailer’s NCAA Tournament record stands at 37-23.

Eight years after winning her first national championship, Sailer again coached Princeton to a national title in 2002. That team suffered a loss in the season opener and never looked back, rattling off 19-consecutive wins – none by fewer than four goals – en route to avenging their only loss with a 12-7 defeat of Georgetown in the final.

The journey was different in 2003, but the destination was the same as the Tigers went back-to-back as national champions. After a 1-3 start to the season, Sailer and Princeton won 15 of their final 16 games — again reversing a result from early in the year with an 8-7 win in overtime at the Carrier Dome to defeat Virginia in the title game.

Inside the Ivy League, Sailer has set the standard with 15 Ivy League championships – the most of any coach in Ivy women’s lacrosse history. She enters the 2022 season with Ivy League championships in each of the last six full seasons (2014-19) and her teams are 37-5 in conference play over those six years. During her career, Sailer is 176-45 in Ivy League games. If Sailer had only coached Ivy League games during her career, she’d still rank No. 46 all-time among the 470 people to coach Division I women’s lacrosse.

Fortunately for Princeton, Sailer coached all the games during her career. Her 418 career wins entering this season are No. 6 all-time among women’s lacrosse head coaches across all Divisions and No. 5 among active head coaches. Inside Division I, she is No. 2 among active head coaches in wins. Among head coaches to spend their entire career at one institution, she ranks No. 2 all-time in wins behind only Missy Foote who won 422 games at Division III Middlebury from 1978-2015.

Over the course of her career, Sailer has amassed three National Coach of the Year awards, seven Regional Coach of the Year honors and three Ivy League Coach of the Year selections. In 2008, she received the Diane Geppi-Aikens Memorial Award, presented by the IWLCA for lifetime achievement in contribution to women’s lacrosse.

Lifetime achievement and Chris Sailer go hand-in-hand. In 2008, she was inducted into the US Lacrosse Hall of Fame and in 2018 Chris Sailer Trail was constructed at the US Lacrosse National Hall of Fame. Other Hall of Fame inductions for Sailer include the New Jersey Lacrosse Foundation Hall of Fame (2011), Eastern Pennsylvania Lacrosse Hall of Fame (2003), Haverford High School Athletics Hall of Fame (1998), Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame (1997) and New England Lacrosse Hall of Fame (1996).

More important to Sailer than any accolades she has received are those earned by her players. Over her career, Sailer has seen 105 players earn first-team All-Ivy selections and 27 receive Ivy League Player or Rookie of the Year honors. Tigers have been named All-American by the IWLCA 98 times, five have been chosen as Tewaaraton Award finalists and in 2003 Rachel Becker became the first Ivy Leaguer — male or female — to win the Tewaaraton Award.

A 1981 graduate of Harvard, Sailer captained both the lacrosse and field hockey teams in Cambridge. She was a two-time first-team All-Ivy selection in lacrosse and was a member of the U.S. National Team. Sailer received the Radcliffe Alumni Association Award for athletic excellence and leadership her senior year.

Following graduation and a three-year stint as a teacher and choate at Choate Rosemary Hall School, Sailer spent one season each as an assistant at Massachusetts (1985) and Penn (1986) before taking over at Princeton.

The Princeton Athletics Department will do a full, national search in the spring of 2022 to identify the best person to lead Princeton Women’s Lacrosse moving forward.

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