Over the span of a typical four-year college career, Muhlenberg players pour their heart and soul into the commitment of being a student-athlete. They balance their time and give their blood, sweat and tears to their team. For the majority of those four years, not a day goes by without them doing something related to their sport. And at the end of their senior season, it all just ends.
Except for a select few graduates.
On occasion, former Muhlenberg athletes are brought back at some point after graduating to join the coaching staff of the team they once played for.
Prime examples of this are several assistant football coaches who spent their college careers in the cardinal and white. Special teams coordinator Joshua Carter, defensive line coach Greg DeLade, and linebackers coach Lenny Smith are all current members of the Mules football coaching staff who also call the school their alma mater.
Carter was a lethal kick returner for the team from 1998-2001. He spent that time setting numerous records that still stand today. He holds the school record for career yards (2,189), average yards per return, and return touchdowns, most yards in a single game (344), touchdown receptions in a career, game and single season (33/4/14) and career receiving yards (2,733). He also tied the mark for career receptions (169). Over 10 years after his graduation, Carter still holds the all-time Division III records for career yards on punt returns and combined yards on kick returns. Carter was inducted into the Muhlenberg College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007. After being hired back to his alma mater in 2014 as quarterbacks/wide receivers coach and special teams coordinator, he helped orchestrate an offense that ranked second in Division III in completion percentage and set school records for points and yards per game.
Graduating in 2014 and 2016 respectively, Delade and Smith are also alumni members of this past year’s coaching staff. Smith, a linebacker, was part of an accomplished defense which was ranked within the top 15 in Division III for total defense and run defense. Smith led that team with 83 tackles and was awarded All Centennial-Conference second team for his efforts in 2015. Delade was a force on the Mules defensive line. The defensive end made a habit of getting to the ball behind the line of scrimmage, compiling 20 sacks and 37.5 tackles for a loss in his Muhlenberg tenure. He also forced four fumbles and snagged two interceptions.
However, Scotty Wood stadium is not the only realm of Muhlenberg which has seen successful athletes become involved in the program after graduating. Head wrestling coach Jason Mclean is an alumnus, and formerly one of the most decorated wrestlers in the program’s history. Graduating in 2001, McLean earned All-American honors by finishing eighth at 141 pounds at the NCAA Championships as a senior. He also won the Centennial Conference championship that season, finishing with a record of 34-11, good for the second-most wins in a season in program history.
Since graduating, he worked for the New Brunswick School District in numerous roles, and also rebuilt the New Brunswick High School wrestling program after a 25-year hiatus. “The opportunity to step in at the helm at Muhlenberg means the world to me,” said McLean on his hiring. “I was beyond appreciative of Corey Goff and the Muhlenberg faithful for giving me this opportunity. My plan is to lead with the same vigor, drive and persistence that helped make me Muhlenberg College’s first All-American and to fill the wall with more. I never took my last year of eligibility and chance at giving Muhlenberg a two-time All-American then; I plan on making up for it now.” This past year, Mclean took the reins mere weeks before the beginning of the season and provided the team with a steady hand, leading the boys to a productive season.
Other notable alumni coaches include Kiersten Mulvey, a 2017 grad and assistant women’s lacrosse coach, former pitcher David Anderson, who served as an assistant/pitching coach for the Mules from 2016-2017, and Maria Serina, a 2003 grad and former captain of the volleyball team who returned to be an assistant coach in 2015.
The Muhlenberg Athletics program has produced countless exceptional athletes over the years. But the opportunity for some of them to return to their alma mater as coaches has benefitted the school, and the former student-athletes. The respective Muhlenberg teams have been able to add a coach to the staff who has been in a similar position of the current players, and knows the program in a way only a former player can. And for the coach, it is a great opportunity to represent the Mules once again in a different role, and contribute what they can to help their teams find success.