When Chris Lampart was first hired as the head coach of the Archbishop Ryan High School football team, he immediately wanted to do many things.
He wanted to meet with his players. He wanted to start game planning for next season. He wanted to talk about the school and the program with people in the neighborhood. But there was something he had to do first.
“I had to tell my mom to cool it on social media,” Lampart said. “She was excited. My whole family was excited. I went there, my brother went there, my sister went there. My parents didn’t go there, they went to North (Catholic) and Hallahan, but they love Ryan. They sacrificed to send us there, and the investment paid off. They love Ryan as much as we do.”
Lampart’s parents may love the school, but now they love the football team even more because their son, who has spent a lot of years preparing for this day, is now the top guy with the Raiders’ football program.
And it’s a job he’s more than ready for.
“I think the most exciting part about it is I can build this by using things I’ve learned from great coaches,” Lampart said. “I’ve been coaching for years at (Archbishop) Wood, and we’ve had so much success there. Steve Devlin really had me ready for this.
“Years ago, when he was at Wood, he needed an assistant coach. He was given my name, and it’s funny because he knew me. He was my baseball coach at Ryan. He gave me a chance, and he was really helpful. I learned so much by watching.”
During his time there, the Vikings enjoyed tremendous amounts of success, including five state championships. Lampart, who coached the offensive and defensive lines at Wood, learned what it takes to win at that level. And he’s hoping to bring that same attitude to Ryan.
“I loved coaching at Wood, and if I wanted to, I probably could have stayed there for another 10 years and I would have been very happy to do that,” Lampart said. “If I was going to leave there, it had to be a job I really wanted. This isn’t just a regular job. This is my school. I played sports here. I live in the neighborhood. I love the people and the relationships I have there.
“I never really thought the Ryan job would be open and I love coaching. But when the job opened up, I was excited. Coaching at Wood was great, but I was spending about two hours a day in the car driving down Street Road. This is time I can spend in the community.”
Lampart isn’t exactly taking over a program that is in disrepair. The Raiders went 8-4 last year under Frank McArdle, who is now the coach at Judge.
Ryan’s only setbacks were to St. Joe’s Prep, La Salle and twice to Lampart’s Wood team, including a 24-17 barnburner in the Catholic League 5A final. Ryan was a play or two away from ending Lampart’s season before the state playoffs. He is optimistic that a lot of those returning players who almost beat him last year at Wood can enjoy the same success this year.
“We have a lot of good players coming back,” Lampart said. “The best thing about them is that we have a lot of two-sport athletes. They’re not just football players, they’re athletes. (Some) play basketball, (some) wrestle, we have linemen who are running track. That’s exactly the program I want. I want the kids to have fun.”
He also wants them to win.
And because of that, he knows he’s going to have to develop good football players. But as a former role player at Ryan, he also knows he’s going to have to get the most out of all of his players.
“I played 10 to 15 snaps a game when I was at Ryan,” said Lampart, who graduated in 2000 and now lives in Torresdale. “I had tackles every game, but I was never an all-star. You need at least 55 players to have a good football program, and you’re not going to have 55 stars. You need stars, but you also have to get a lot out of the other guys. I know that because that’s who I was. It’s the coach’s job to get players to be able to contribute in some way.”
Lampart loves coaching, and he loves teaching. In his mind, the two jobs are one and the same, and he brings the same care to coaching that he shows at Baldi Middle School, where he works as an emotional support teacher.
“It’s something that’s a work in progress, and we’ve had a lot of support from our principal Mr. (Luke) Hostetter,” Lampart said. “If one of the kids is having a bad day, they’ll come down and sit in my classroom and we’ll talk and do work together. Some days we’ll talk about their problems, some days they’ll just need a place to get away and do work. It is a lot like coaching. You have to problem solve and help kids. One of the things I take pride in is my ability to build good relationships and communicate. That helps in coaching and in teaching.”
Lampart has been the coach of the program only for a little over a week, but he’s already getting to work. He has been going to events, including basketball games coached by athletic director Joe Zeglinski, and getting out in the community.
“I want Ryan football games to be games that people have to go to,” Lampart said. “I want to build a program that everyone wants to be a part of. Frank is at Judge, he’s my boy, we played football and baseball together. I want him to do at Judge what I’m doing at Ryan and I want that game to be one everyone has to go to.
“There’s a lot of good things at Ryan. Joe has been great. The entire administration has been great. I’m a product of the school. My parents sacrificed so I could be there, and the investment paid off. I had great teachers and coaches. I want to win there and make the program succeed.”