John Raba, the NESCAC’s all-time winningest coach, just completed his 22nd season at Wesleyan. In 2018, he guided his team to their first ever National Championship. That team also produced a program record nine All-Americans. In 2017, Raba was named the USILA Division III National Coach of the Year. That team finished with a 20-2 record with a 9-1 mark in the NESCAC. The Cardinals advanced to the National Semifinals. Raba took over at Wesleyan in 1996 and is also an adjunct professor in the physical education department and an assistant director of athletics.
He has amassed an incredible 265-113 (.701) record with 19 winning seasons in what is considered the most competitive conference in the country. In past two seasons, the Cardinals won the conference championship for the second time in program history (2017, ’09), and advanced to the NCAA Semifinals for the fourth time ever (2018, '17, ’07, ’06). They also won their 12th Little Three outright title this past year. The 2017 team won 20-consecutive games—the longest winning streak in the country at any division and posted single-season program records in overall wins and NESCAC victories. Wesleyan also finished the season ranked No. 4 in the country, marking its highest ranking in program history at the time.
Following the historic 2017 season, Raba was also named the NESCAC Coach of the Year, and the All-New England Co-Coach of the Year and the staff was awarded the Northeast Regional Coaching Staff of the Year. That season he coached seven All-Americans including First Team selections Ted Bergman ’17 and Harry Stanton ’18. Bergman was awarded the Ensign C. Markland Kelly, Jr. award as well, which is presented to the top goalie in Division III. Additionally, the 2017 Cardinals also received the James “Ace” Adams Sportsmanship Award which is given annually to a college or university in each of the 11 officiating districts whose coaches, players, and fans exhibit the best sportsmanship throughout the season.
Throughout his tenure, Raba has earned three NESCAC Coach of the Year honors (2017, ’06, ’01) since the conference’s first season in 2001, and has received six NEILA Coach of the Year laurels (2017, ’09, ’06, ’05, ’04, ’01). He has also coached three national position players of the year, and 43 All-Americans.
Raba’s teams have qualified for the NCAA Division III Championships six times (2018, 17, ’09, ’07, ’06, ’05) and are 14-5 all-time in the national postseason tournament. The Cardinals are also 23-15 in 18 NESCAC Championship appearances under Raba’s tutelage. His 2001 and 2000 squads reached the ECAC New England Division III title game.
In addition to coaching lacrosse, Raba assisted with the football team during the fall from 1996 through 2007, working on the defensive side of the ball each of those 12 seasons with eight as defensive coordinator (1998-2005). He stepped down from that post in 2008, assuming the position of recruiting coordinator for the athletic department.
A 1993 graduate of the University of New Haven, Raba was an All-American lacrosse player for the Chargers as a grad student in 1994 after leading Division II in scoring as a senior in 1993. Also outstanding on the gridiron, Raba was a team captain, a two-time All-New England pick as a fullback and earned team MVP honors as well. He was honored by UNH as its male athlete of the year in both 1991-92 and 1992-93. He was inducted into the UNH Athletics Hall of Fame in 2010.
Before coming to Wesleyan in 1996, he served as an assistant football coach at Brown during the 1995 season and was a Graduate Assistant at University of New Haven Football Team in In the 1993 and 1994 seasons. John is a Long Island native and attended lacrosse powerhouse Farmingdale High School, graduating in 1989. He is married to Jen who teaches in the West Haven School system. He has two sons, Jack (18) and Jason (15).