Christell new head coach at Wheeling

It sure 'adds up' that Beth Lucas Christell has been named the new girls basketball coach at Wheeling High School.

Christell becomes the fourth straight math teacher to direct the Wildcats' program, following Shelly Wiegel, Julissa Hernandez and Matt Weber.

Christell was on the staff of Weber and assistant coach Bill Murmann the last four years, handling the junior varsity team.

Weber has accepted a math position at Prospect High School where he has also been the receivers coach for the varsity football team.

"I learned a lot under Weber and Murmann," Christell said.

Christell is quite familiar with the Mid-Suburban League, having played four years at Hersey for coach Mary Fendley.

"I remember going to camps before I got to high school when Linda (Mass) was the head coach at Hersey," Christell said. "It was fun to play in her camps and then to play for Mary and Julia (Barthel, the assistant coach) in high school."

Christell's father, John, coached basketball at Hersey in the 1970s and 1980s and her mother Bridget taught the hard of hearing at Hersey for 35 years.

"Both of my parents brought me in and out of gyms when I was young," Christell said. "Being around the gyms and seeing basketball definitely inspired me to want to be part of it and to coach later on."

After serving as manager for Illinois State women's basketball team, Christell played four years at Lake Forest College.

"I missed playing so much so I transferred to Lake Forest," Christell said. "I figured you're only young so long so I might as well use the time I had."

Now she'll spend her time as a first-year head coach in the same conference in which she played.

"I'm really honored to join such an elite group of coaches in the MSL," Christell said. "I really feel the East and West divisions have some really great coaches who I have played for or worked under. I'm just excited to be joining them.

"I've also worked for coach Tom Dineen (hall of famer) and Steve Ikenn (sophomore coach at the time) at Stevenson and Nick Bumbales at Elgin. I'm really honored to join the varsity ranks and I am excited to have my own varsity program."

Christell will teach math at Wheeling. She also received her special education endorsement last year.

Being busy is nothing new for Christell.

She was a four-year three-sport athlete (basketball, softball and volleyball) at Hersey.

"That was a very important thing for me," Christell said. "I think today far too many kids concentrate on one sport and I was very proud to be a four-year three-sport athlete."

Now she is proud to say she is the Wildcats' head coach.

"I'm really excited to bring some excitement, kind of a young energy and a female perspective to the program," Christell said. "I really do feel having a female head coach gives the girls a good role model and kind of a good understanding of where they're coming from.

"And I know these girls since I've been coaching here the last four years. I'm just excited to continue to lead the program in new and exciting ways.

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