|Pat Lightle left collegiate
coaching in 1994.
Messiah athletics photo
Messiah athletic director Jack Cole announced on Friday, May 25,
the hiring of Pat Lightle as the next head coach of the Falcons'
baseball program. Lightle will replace Steve DeRiggs as the team's
skipper, with DeRiggs completing two years of interim program
A native of Winchester, Va., Lightle becomes the 13th head coach in the history of one of Messiah's oldest sports programs, with the Falcons' competition on the diamond dating to 1965. The team finished the 2012 season with the program's fifth Commonwealth Conference Championship and a trip to the NCAA Regionals.
"We're very excited to have Pat join Messiah College athletics as our next baseball coach," Cole said. "Pat brings to our program a deep passion for mentoring student-athletes, and also an impressive track record for developing strong teams. We know that he is going to be a great addition to our coaching staff and faculty."
Lightle's appointment includes the instruction of activity courses within the department of Health and Human Performance, as well as game management supervision with athletics.
“I'm really excited to be joining the program at Messiah,” Lightle said. “Knowing what the college stands for, their athletic traditions, and having had the chance to get to know many of the people there, I realize it's a special opportunity.”
For Lightle, the hiring represents a return to a collegiate dugout, as he has spent the better part of 15 years working primarily in corporate business. Over the past several years, he has also coached an American Legion baseball team out of northern Virginia. Nevertheless, Lightle arrives at Messiah College with an impressive background in the nation's pastime sport.
His sideline experience includes the position of coach at Bristol University (Tenn.), where he led his team to an NAIA championship in 1994. The Bulldogs shut out all their opponents in that year's championship. Prior to his appointment at Bristol, Lightle worked for four years as the associate head coach at Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers made three trips to the NCAA Division I Regionals Tournament over that stretch.
“The experiences at Coastal Carolina and Bristol were very different,” Lightle said, reflecting on the contrasts between the NAIA model and larger Division I athletics. “The common thread at both schools were the players — working with college-aged student-athletes is a passion of mine because they play with a pure love of the game.”
That “purity” of college athletics was a main attraction for Lightle to Messiah College, as the Falcons' programs are highly regarded across the NCAA in measures of both success and character.
“The opportunity to work with the student-athletes, developing them as both baseball players and young men is what drew me to Messiah College,” Lightle said. “The faith-based, Christian component of Messiah's identity is also of great importance to me, as it allows us to keep the game of baseball in good perspective.”
Lightle's appointment continues a coaching career that started in the summer of 1985 when he joined the program at Eastern Kentucky as a graduate assistant. After earning a master's in physical education in 1987 from Eastern Kentucky, he was named head baseball coach and physical education instructor at Southwestern Michigan Community College. In two years he led his team to two Michigan Community College Athletics Association regional tournaments. His stint at Southwestern led to his hiring at Coastal Carolina.
After becoming an NAIA national championship coach in 1994, Lightle stepped away from coaching to pursue other career opportunities in fitness management and corporate business. His experiences have included serving as chief operating officer of Professional Fitness Management, LLC, from 2002 through 2006, and chief executive officer of APAP, Inc., from 2006 through 2010. Most recently, Lightle has worked as a lead consultant for Missional Movement International, a business management organization that primarily serves nonprofit institutions.
“For many of the student-athletes at Messiah, they will move into some aspect of business after they graduate,” Lightle said, bridging the gap between his corporate experience and his future leadership of the Falcons' baseball program. “I believe I've had experiences that I can pass on to the players, lessons that can be valuable for them to learn.”
Pat and his wife, Terri, will soon be relocating to the area. They have a daughter, Kaitlin, who will be married this summer.