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Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Zak Messer was raised in Bristol, on the border of Tennessee and Virginia. After playing junior college baseball in East Tennessee he came to Lipscomb where he was an outstanding baseball player. He fell in love with the school and with the Nashville area. He returned to Bristol to work, but when an opportunity at Amazon.com became available he gladly returned to Middle Tennessee. He has been working for Amazon for four months. He spent some time this week talking with lipscombsports.com.
What years did you play baseball at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I came to Lipscomb in the fall of 2009 and played 2010 through the 2012 season. Jeff Forehand was the head coach."
Why did you choose to attend Lipscomb to continue your athletic career?
"The biggest factor was Coach Forehand. I had already committed to King College in Bristol, my hometown. But the coach there resigned the summer before I was going there and he was the reason I was going. I was playing summer ball in New Market, Virginia and talked with my coach at Walters State. I asked him if he had any contacts.
"He called a few of his contacts. I talked with some schools in Virginia and with Elon. I also talked to Coach Forehand. After I talked with all of them I decided I wanted to come to Lipscomb. There is just something about Coach Forehand.
"The school sounded like it would be a great fit for me. I loved the Christian aspect. I came down for a visit and it was the best decision for me."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"The very first time I got to go out on the field as an NCAA Division I athlete for Lipscomb (vs. Murray State).
"I remember getting dressed and then going out on the field. I don't know if there is ever going to be a moment that was as intense for me. That is definitely one of the highlights of my life to put that uniform on and stand on the field for the National Anthem for a Division I school like Lipscomb. It was amazing.
"You work your whole life for this. I wanted to go to a Division I school straight out of Virginia High School but none of the options available to me felt right. That is why I went the junior college route. I prolonged my childhood dream for two years. The anticipation kept building up to that day. It was surreal for me to actually go out there and do it. It was a blessing."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"My father, Tony, played for the same high school I played for. He got drafted straight out of high school by the Chicago Cubs. He coached me from Little League through high school and AAU. Everything I know about baseball came from him. He has always been my motivation in baseball.
"My mom, Carolyn, was always very supportive of me and my goals. She sacrificed anything and everything she could to make sure I had what I needed to succeed in life and in sports. Between her and my dad, pursuing my goals was made possible.
"Coach Forehand affected me the most at Lipscomb. I played for a lot of different teams throughout my life, but the difference between other coaches and Coach Forehand is the relationships he establishes with every single player on the team.
"It is so impressive. I don't know how he does it. He knows everything about every one of his players. He can have conversations with you about your family, what is going on with school and what is happening with your life.
"He really cares about his players. He makes you feel like you are part of a family. He wants his players to better themselves in life. The respect he gains from his players, and the respect he has for his players, makes him a really good coach."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"I hate to go with the cliché but it is definitely the moments I spent with my teammates - hanging out in the locker room and doing things like grilling out steaks after a big win or a series sweep. Those are the things you really remember."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"The No.1 thing that came from Coach Forehand, every professor I had, chapel and Bible classes is you learn it is not about you.
"I came into Lipscomb with my individual goals for the team and that is not good from a team standpoint. Coach Forehand opened my eyes. It is about making everyone around you better. If you do that everything about you is going to fall into place."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"I have two - Dr. Dale Alden and Dr. Paul Turner. I learned more from both of them than anyone else. I have the utmost respect for them.
"Dr. Turner is like Coach Forehand. He really liked to get to know his students. He would have a conversation with you before or after classes just to get to know you better. He would always ask me how baseball was going. I had a couple of surgeries while I was at Lipscomb and he kept up with me when I was hurt.
"Dr. Alden was a fun-going teacher. He was someone you could cut up with.
"I majored in psychology as an undergrad and I got my masters in conflict management."
Where do you live now?
"I live on the Mount Juliet-Lebanon line. My address is Lebanon, but I am closer to Mount Juliet"
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"Amazon.com. I am a senior H.R. assistant. I was an H.R. consultant in Bristol before coming to Amazon.
"I love working for Amazon. It is the environment I wanted. As a consultant I was usually at a desk most of the time unless I was traveling to meet with clients.
"We have a fast-paced environment at Amazon. We have 1,300 employees right now and at peak times we hire 600-to-700 more. You have to get a task done, so go get it done and move on to the next one. It is like playing a sport. "
Tell us about your family.
"My wife's name is Katie. We got married Oct. 19, 2013. I have been with her for the past 10 years. She was my high school sweetheart. We met when I was a sophomore and she was a freshman."
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.