April 13, 2018

NAC Spotlight: Chris Ummer, Lyndon

Lyndon’s Chris Ummer has summited many mountains as well as many careers to be where he is today. Currently he serves as a coach, part-time instructor, and Director of Athletics, it’s fair to say that Chris has his hands full. However, he still finds the time to spend with his family and to hike, his beloved hobby.

His Background: A graduate from Castleton, Chris received his undergraduate degree in Athletic Training. Following his dream of working in sport medicine, he was hired as the Head Athletic Trainer at Lyndon in 1986. Being very involved in athletics, Chris also took on the role of Sports Information Director for a few years as well for the Hornets. In 2004, he was named the Director of Athletics which is the title he still currently holds. During his time at Lyndon, Chris has served as a part- time instructor and a full-time coach. In 1993, he was named the head coach of women's cross country and took over the men’s program in 1995. He has seen great success out of this athletes over the past 25 years as the Hornets mentor, seeing his teams win 25 conference titles. In addition to nine national qualifying teams, 20 individuals have qualified for national championships under Chris' guidance, including three Academic All-Americans and four All-Americans. Chris has also earned recognition from his peers, being named conference, district, and regional Coach of the Year numerous times. 

In his "free" time, you can find Chris in the mountains. As an avid hiker, he has summited numerous mountains across the nation and worldwide and when he isn’t hiking he is spending time with his wife, three children, and dog.

Learn more about Chris:

Tell us about your time in college, where did you attend undergrad? Were you a student-athlete? 
"I attended both Buffalo State and Castleton for my undergraduate work. I was a student-athlete playing football at Buffalo and lacrosse at Castleton."

What did you major in and what were your career goals?
"I initially was a fine arts major at Buffalo, but after a serious knee injury playing football (ruptured ACL/MCL and partial meniscus tear) I transferred to Castleton and became an athletic training major. I aspired to be a college head athletic training and follow in my mentor’s footsteps (John Cottone)."

During your time at Lyndon, you’ve worn many different ‘hats’, what positions have you held/do you hold at Lyndon?
"I was the head athletic trainer from 1986-2004. Also served as a Head Resident when I first came to Lyndon. I served as the SID in the early 2000’s. In 2004, I became the Director of Athletics. Over my 32 years at Lyndon I’ve taught over 10 different exercise science courses numerous times. I began coaching cross country in 1993. Last spring (2017) I was the inaugural coach of our women’s lacrosse team."

What have been some of the challenges you’ve faced in your career?
"Juggling the many hats has been certainly challenging … there are many times when there are overlaps between teaching, coaching, and administrative duties."

What advice would you give to students that have a goal to one day work in collegiate athletics?
"Get as much experience as possible … volunteer, intern, and get experience in as many areas as possible."

As a coach you’ve had some great success, what has been the most rewarding part of coaching? What has been the biggest challenge?
"Impacting the lives’ of my student-athletes, Sierra Hargrave would be an excellent example. Also, maintaining a lifelong connection and true friendships with former student-athletes. The challenge has become more and more balancing time between AD and coaching roles and time."

You are an avid hiker, how many hills/mountains have you summited? What is the highest you have gone?
"My hiking experiences have expanding into mountaineering locally and worldwide. I’m fortunate to live close to the White Mountains of NH, which is ideal for training for climbs around the world. I’ve literally summited hundreds and hundreds of local and regional peaks such as Mount Washington well over 100 times. The highest a peak I’ve summited so far is Kilimanjaro (Africa) which stands at 19,341ft, but other peaks such as Pico de Orizaba - Mexico (18,941ft), Cerro Bonete - Argentina (16,486ft), and Everest Base Camp, have been just as rewarding. Always though, the people of these countries and cultures are my highlightsand make the biggest impact on me."

What has been your greatest achievement hiking? 
"I continue to ascend mountains at a very fast clip and feel I can ascend mountains faster than people half my age… so I guess it’s my fitness level and performance on mountains is my greatest accomplishment."

What is still on your “bucket list” to accomplish?
"Mountains that are on my bucket list are: Denali, Elburs (Russia), Aconcagua (Argentina), and big peak in Nepal. Everest is a dream, but the cost is unrealistic." 

--Spotlight series courtesy of NAC intern Kelsey Bragdon