The sudden passing of the beloved Wesley Head Football Coach & Athletic Director Mike Drass hit the Division III school hard on Monday.
The school released this statement about Drass’s passing.
“The Wesley College family’s heart is broken, and we are devastated by the loss of our long-time Athletic Director, Head Football Coach, educator, and friend,” said Wesley College President Robert E. Clark II. “No words can adequately describe how our Wesley College family feels, but our thoughts, prayers, and our love are with Laurie, Molly, and the entire Drass family,”
Drass coached at Wesley for 29 years and was the head football coach for the school for 26 years.
Coach Drass turned the Division III football program into a powerhouse going 229-69-1 record in 26 seasons.
Drass’s 229 is the second most wins among active coaches in Divison III football and he only trails Montclair State’s, Rick Giancola.
The beloved coach led the team to 14 NCAA Tournament berths and reached the semifinals six times.
Coach Drass’s program produced multiple NFL players including current Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Joe Callahan (who spent the last two seasons at Green Bay Packers as third-string quarterback) and recently undrafted offensive lineman Matt Gono who signed with the Atlanta Falcons after the NFL Draft.
Drass was more than a coach, he was a mentor to the student-athletes that he coached and wanted them to be successful on and off the field.
Former Wesley quarterback Callahan talked about just how Drass mentored him in his time at the school to Delaware News Journal’s Martin Frank.
“He would always talk to me when there was something I was dealing with on or off the field,” Callahan said. “He’d say, ‘Imagine if me or your parents were standing right behind you. What would you do?’
“I always felt like he was there guiding me. It’s rare that you meet someone in life like that. It’s just a really sad day.”
Offensive Coordinator Chip Knapp also saw that it was more than just football for Drass who worked with him since 1989.
Knapp told the News Journal that family was the most important thing to Coach Drass.
“Family meant everything to Mike. It wasn’t just football. We have a large football family. He touched so many lives — players, people who work here, students, faculty, and staffers. He touched thousands of lives.”
On Monday, Knapp and the rest of the coaches on the football program called former players and told them about the passing of Coach Drass.
Knapp and the rest of the coaches also brought the players that were on campus to celebrate the impact that Coach Drass had on their lives.
“You could see it in their faces,” Knapp said. “We talked about his impact, and what he would want us to do next. That was pretty obvious because it wasn’t just about what we can do to be better football players and coaches. It was also what we can do to be better human beings.”
Wesley held a vigil for the late coach on Monday night at Drass field where the community came together to remember a great man.
Coach Drass was 57 years old and is survived by his wife Laurie and daughter Molly.