When Chris Lachney finished dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s, it ended up helping to spell “Southeastern Louisiana University.”
Shortly after announcing his resignation as head coach at Riverside Academy, Lachney has found a new home in the form of Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond.
“All the apprehension you have sometimes in terms of time spent with your family or a new schedule – whatever the reasons – all those boxes kind of checked out this time,” Lachney said.
Family considerations were at the heart of Lachney’s decision. The time-consuming nature of a high school football coach can be a demanding for someone like Lachney, who is recently married and has an infant daughter.
“Southeastern is such a family atmosphere. It’s such a culture that promotes family. I know we are going to be able to raise our daughter, Blake, right there with us. They will be the village that will help us raise her,” said Lachney.
The family atmosphere extends to the SLU athletic department, where Lachney’s wife, Tori, also has a new job.
“To kind of have the family thing addressed was a big factor in this,” Lachney said.
With family in mind, Lachney took a leap of faith.
“I didn’t know what I really was going to do,” he said. “The timing of my resignation at Riverside was probably a little bit…if you were to tell the story to somebody; it was ‘he resigned too early.’ I didn’t have anything to go to but I wanted to do what was best for Riverside and that school and that community. When my mind was made up that that was what I needed to do for me and my family, I thought it was only right that I did what was best for Riverside and that family and make the announcement sooner rather than later.”
It didn’t take long for Lachney to land his new gig as linebackers coach at SLU under new Lions coach Frank Scelfo, a longtime professional and college assistant coach, most recently with the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Lachney said he knew of Scelfo but didn’t know the former Tulane assistant coach personally.
“We had met 15, 18 years ago when he was at Tulane and I was a rookie football coach at John Paul High School and I used to go to their clinics and watch them practice,” said Lachney. “We shook hands a couple of times, but no, this was as cold of a call as there could have been. All I asked him was for an opportunity to sit down and talk to him and he gave me that.
“We just kind of hit it off from there and the next thing you know, he’s offering me a position and I gladly accepted it.”
Lachney now goes from a defensive coordinator on a state championship team and head coach of Riverside last year to being a position coach.
“It’s a transition I will welcome with open arms,” Lachney said. “I think anybody who knows me, has played for me or coached with me can tell you that I’m a football coach. I love being on the ground floor and being on the front lines. I’m much more comfortable coaching a position or coordinating a defense.
“While I loved my experience and time as the head football coach at Riverside and Pope John Paul, there are certain things that come along with being a head football coach that kind of take you away from a lot of the football part of what you do. You become more of a CEO, so to speak. The idea that I’m going to get to coach a group of linebackers and my sole priority and focus will be on the defensive side of the ball and game-planning and get kinds ready to compete and win, that’s exciting to me.”
With his ties to the local area, Lachney may remain a familiar figure in the River Parishes as a potential college recruiter.
“It’s certainly something we have discussed and while no plans have been finalized, that certainly was part of the discussion. That’s where things were leaning but we haven’t sat down as a full staff yet and gotten our directives,” Lachney explained.
Assistant coaches are often on the road recruiting – which can take away from precious family time. It’s an issue Lachney said he is comfortable with in his new position.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “In the preliminary talks that we’ve had, the recruiting area that I would be responsible for is so local, I’m going to sleep in my own bed every night. It’s not like I’m getting on a plane and going around the country. Let’s not overlook the fact my wife will work down the hall from me every day.”
Any new endeavor can cause a bit of apprehension but Lachney said any doubts he might have had about being an assistant on the collegiate level at SLU were quelled by Scelfo’s sense of family.
“I’m going into this with a bit of uncertainty because I’ve never done this before but when I talked to Coach Scelfo and I addressed with him these concerns I have and my priority my family has in my life. He told me beyond a shadow of a doubt that he always has been a family guy and he really made me feel comfortable. The main thing that you look for is I’m working for a guy that values the same things that I do,” Lachney said.