Lou Wacker never overestimated his role as a football tactician.
“If you’re a coach and have good players, you can be successful. That’s the name of it,” Mr. Wacker told The Times-Dispatch when he was inducted to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
Mr. Wacker, who died of heart failure Friday at 84, was a Highland Springs High and University of Richmond graduate who spent 23 seasons as Emory & Henry’s coach, retiring in 2004. Mr. Wacker stood out as a Spiders running back and defensive back before playing for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League in 1956.
Mr. Wacker was the coach at Midlothian High School before working 24 years as defensive coordinator at Hampden-Sydney. He became coach at Emory & Henry in 1982.
Mr. Wacker’s teams at E&H went 164-76. Under Mr. Wacker, E&H posted 17 consecutive winning seasons and won 11 ODAC championships. He was voted league coach of the year five times.
“To say that Emory & Henry College and the football program have been a big part of my life for 23 years would be an understatement; it has been my life,” Mr. Wacker said when he retired.
In 2014, E&H honored Mr. Wacker by naming the football stadium’s home grandstand for him.
Mr. Wacker led the Wasps to a 37-game winning streak at home from the final game in 1991 until the end of the 1998 season.
“If you go into a high school and don’t talk to the best players because you’re a Division III school and you don’t think you can sign them, then you’re giving off the wrong signal,” Mr. Wacker told The New York Times in 1987. ‘’We want the same thing for our program that Tennessee wants or Virginia Tech wants. If your goal isn’t a national championship and to be the best you can be, well, what good are goals?”
Mr. Wacker resided in the Emory area following his retirement.
“I have to drive eight miles before I hit a stoplight, and I’m not complaining. I’m bragging, “ he told The Times-Dispatch in 2014.
In addition to being part of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, Mr. Wacker was inducted to the Highland Springs High School, the UR, the H-SC, and the E&H halls of fame.
There will be a celebration of life on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 1 p.m., in E&H’s Memorial Chapel.