NEW LONDON, Conn. – Gary Weller, head men's lacrosse coach at the Coast Guard Academy for the past three seasons, has announced his retirement.
Ray LaForte, who served as the associate head coach of the men's lacrosse program for the past two seasons, will take over as the head coach.
Coast Guard will begin its first season as a varsity team after the Bears were a club teams for 30 years. Last season, the men's lacrosse team won the Pioneer Collegiate Lacrosse League (PCLL) for the first time in 30 club seasons.
"This has been the best three years I have ever had coaching. I had incredible support from Admiral Stosz, the athletic department, the alumni and students," said Weller. "It all led to national prominence and we did it. The big goal was to push this program to Division III and we are there. We met and exceeded every goal that I wanted and now it's time to turn things over to the young guys and have them establish new goals in the new era."
Coach Weller had led the Bears to a record of 42-15 (.737) in his three seasons including the programs first ever Pioneer Collegiate Lacrosse League (PCLL) championship last year.
He led the Bears to the MCLA National Tournament in each of the last two seasons, the first ever appearances in the national tournament for the Bears and the programs first ever win in a national tournament game with a win over Sam Houston State in 2013.
Weller, a graduate of Hofstra, with a degree in Business, played Division I lacrosse for the Flying Dutchmen.
Prior to coaching at the Coast Guard Academy, Weller retired from Mitchell College and Ledyard High School having served as head lacrosse coach at both schools. He compiled a 64-35 record over 12 seasons at Ledyard and earned the State of Connecticut High School Lacrosse Coach of the Year honors in 2005. He has a career coaching record of 155-47 combined in both high school and college.
While at Ledyard High, he started both the boys and girls lacrosse programs as well as the Ledyard Youth Lacrosse League for children in second through eighth grade.
Gary is an Army veteran, serving both the 173rd Airborne Division and the 25th Infantry Division, where he was awarded the Purple Heart, Medal of Valor and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.
"On behalf of the entire CGA community, we want to congratulate Gary on his outstanding career as a college lacrosse coach and wish him the very best in the future," said Coast Guard Academy Director of Athletics Tim Fitzpatrick. " Due to Gary's perseverance, insight, forward thinking and personal character, moving men's lacrosse from club to varsity status this year became a reality. He helped to create a legacy of success on the field, and at the same time honored the very rich heritage of men's lacrosse at CGA which developed over the past 30 years. We look forward to honoring him this spring for his numerous efforts on behalf of the academy and the athletic division. He is a true gentleman and a great leader of young men – and has set the lacrosse program on a solid course for future success in the years ahead."