Sports Editor: Donny Chiarel
WINGATE, N.C. — For Wingate head coach Abby Wiley, lacrosse has always been there. Ever since she started playing at a young age with her siblings, Wiley has participated at some of the highest levels the sport has to offer.
“Both me and my sister, Emily, played together growing up,” Wiley said. “My brother got us involved, and we played together throughout high school.”
Wiley was originally supposed to play collegiate lacrosse at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. After talking things over with her family, Wiley and her sister both ended up playing together for two seasons at Nassau Community College.
“After Nassau, I played my final two years at SUNY Cortland in upstate New York,” Wiley said. “While I was there, I played for Kathy Taylor, who currently coaches at Colgate University.”
Her playing career came to an end, but she still wanted to be around the game. Wiley applied for the head-coaching position at Mesa State College, which is now Colorado Mesa. She used Taylor as a reference on her application.
“I ended up moving to Grand Junction, Colo. and was there for eight seasons,” Wiley said. “It was a great experience starting up a program. During the four years, we saw a lot more success.” Wiley left with a 66-55 career record as head-coach.
After Colorado Mesa, Wiley became the head coach at Wingate University during the summer of 2017. She and her husband, Bryan, made the move back to the east coast without even touring the campus. This time, they were a family of three.
Their son, Peter Wiley, was born on Oct. 12, 2017. He was born with Down syndrome.
“There is definitely a coping period,” Wiley said. “We had extensive tests done in the beginning, and they confirmed that our son would have Down syndrome.”
Wiley mentions how tough it was to deal with other aspects of having a child with Down syndrome.
“We knew life would be a little bit more difficult,” Wiley said. “You can’t help what people will say about your child. I think back to when I first went to a store and what people would think.
Now, I feel so guilty thinking that. He’s literally the best part of our world.”
Peter now has two younger siblings, John and Emma, and Wiley has a new perspective that she did not have before.
“Losing a game is not the end of the world,” Wiley said. “Now, when we have a loss, it sucks, but when I come home, my kids are there.”
October also happens to be Down syndrome Awareness Month, so when talking about Peter’s birthday, Wiley lights up with a smile.
“God must’ve done that on purpose,” Wiley said. “For him to be born in this amazing month that represents him, it’s awesome. He’s going to school, he’s riding the bus home, he’s grown so much and he’s made all of our lives better.”
While there is a month dedicated to Down syndrome, there is also a special day during the year. March 21 is recognized as Down Syndrome Awareness Day, and the Wingate women’s lacrosse team happened to have a game the day before back in the spring.
For the cause, the team wore crazy socks as a sign of showing support. Wiley talked about that day being one of her favorite moments at Wingate.
“When Peter’s around, he makes everyone better,” Wiley said. “It’s his smile. I can’t help but look at him and think, “Oh my gosh, I’m so lucky he’s mine.” Our girls are so lucky to have him as a part of this program.”