Notre Dame Fighting Irish lacrosse announced Ryan Wellner as the team’s new defensive coordinator and director of recruiting. Wellner had been the defensive coordinator at Navy since 2011 and the assistant head coach since 2017. Prior to his term in Annapolis, he served in similar roles at Stony Brook, Stevens Institute of Technology, and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, as well as Chaminade High School (from which the Irish have recruited so many great players).
Coach Wellner’s defenses have been fixtures in the top-10 this decade, and he has produced some of the top defensemen in the country, including three-time Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year Chris Fennell and 18 other All-Patriot League defensive player citations. Wellner also has an excellent reputation for coaching face-off specialists and will be called to further develop the rapidly improving Irish face-off unit led by Charles Leonard and supported by Junior Almeida and Kyle Hyland.
He will take on the role of recruiting coordinator, another area where he has a great reputation. As he will be promoting similar academic and long-term benefits, the recruiting skill set and relationships he used with Navy will adapt to continue the recruiting success the Irish have enjoyed this decade.
Coach Wellner is considered by many to be as close to a like-kind replacement for departing defensive coordinator and now Harvard head coach Gerry Byrne as may exist in lacrosse. While it is great to hear that important people in the lacrosse community have the same confidence in our new coach that had with Gerry Byrne, we’re not sure that it’s fair to expect him to be the same as a long-time favorite who was an integral part of the Notre Dame community for many years. We are hopeful fans of Notre Dame lacrosse and our readers will embrace whatever style Coach Wellner takes as his own and recognize he comes with his own fantastic track record of success. (But we remain hopeful he will develop a strong Twitter and YouTube game)
We welcome Coach Wellner and his wife Kate to the Notre Dame community, and we look forward to writing about his successes with the team.