The newest head coach of the Weatherford College men's basketball team isn't new to the program.
On Wednesday, the college announced Chris Lewis as head coach, replacing Mark Osina, who retired recently after a quarter of a century leading the program in two different stints. Lewis had been Osina's assistant coach since the 2018-19 season.
"I'm extremely grateful and blessed that President [Tod Allen] Farmer and Athletic Director Bob McKinley put their faith in me to run this tremendous program," Lewis said upon the announcement. "There is not a better place to start my career as a head coach than here. We have amazing people in our athletic department that I get to work with every day and outstanding support from the school and community.
"I think everyone who gets into coaching wants to have the opportunity to lead their own program, and I am honored to have the chance to lead Weatherford."
Lewis, a 2005 Hurst L.D. Bell High School graduate, joined the WC coaching staff after a standout career as a player in both high school and college--followed by a pair of successful stops as an assistant coach.
Lewis played four seasons at the University of San Diego, earning a spot on the West Coast Conference All-Freshman Team in 2006 and being a 2007-08 Scholar Athlete of the Year. Also, in 2008, his team upset the University of Connecticut in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Following graduation, he became an assistant at North Lake College in Irving for five seasons, his last being in 2017 when the school won the NJCAA Division III national championship. After serving one year as an assistant coach at the University of Providence in Great Falls, Montana, he came to Weatherford.
"What attracted me to Weatherford was the opportunity to coach and compete at the highest level of junior college in one of the toughest conferences in the country," Lewis said. "Every year the level of competition is high, with each team having multiple players who go on to play at the next level, so being able to coach and succeed here is a challenge that I looked forward to.
"Also, being able to coach close to where a lot of my family is and where I grew up is a blessing."
Lewis is originally from Virginia. His dad was in the Navy for 20 years, stationed in Norfolk, and his mom, from Maryland, played volleyball for the University of Maryland.
"I think it's safe to say I got my athleticism and competitiveness from her side," he said with a smile. "I have two brothers that both played sports when they were younger, but I was the one that kind of continued down the sports path."
The family moved to Texas following his dad's retirement. His mom and brothers continue to live in the DFW area following his dad's passing in 2011 from leukemia.
As for his advancement in the coaching world, Lewis praised the successful coaches who served as mentors along the way.
"I've been fortunate to have worked for such great coaches in my career, starting with Tim McGraw at North Lake, then Anthony Owens at Providence, and Mark Osina here at Weatherford," he said. "Each of them not only allowed me the chance to grow as an individual and a coach but also pushed me to take on more responsibility so that I was prepared to lead when the opportunity came. They have all been great mentors, and I know I can call them anytime if and whenever I need advice."
Osina gave his blessing to Lewis' promotion, which comes right around the same age he took charge of the Coyotes.
"I think he's got a chance to do great things," Osina said. "He's good with players, other coaches, officials. Everybody likes him. He's just a great guy, and I'm really happy for him."
McKinley said Lewis has put in the work and is ready to take over the program.
"He's worked hard and shown he wants to be at Weatherford College, and that means a lot to me," McKinley said. "He deserves this."
As for the 2021-22 Coyotes he will lead, Lewis has a group of experienced returning players he's familiar with along with some new recruits he expects to put in the work necessary to earn time on the court.
"They are going to come in and work hard every day," he said, "pushing each other to get better so we can compete with the best teams in our conference."
And, he added, he will be glad to coach a normal season once again, assuming no more problems arise from COVID-19. This past season didn't begin until January when most seasons are at their midpoint.
"Last year was a challenge in many ways. I think it will help our guys to be able to get back into a routine with being able to go to class and have that face-to-face interaction with their professors and have consistent workout times," Lewis said. "We will have the chance to play a full schedule and get the necessary experience in our scrimmages and non-conference games so that we are better prepared to compete with the best teams when conference comes around.
"I'm just excited for the opportunity and ready to get this next year started!"