One of the primary reasons Mark Campbell chose Lipscomb University was his desire to prepare for a career as a basketball coach. In addition to being in the top 20 all-time in scoring, he also learned his coaching lessons well. His opening win this season, a 76-68 overtime decision over Rollins was his 510th as the women's basketball coach at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. That is a new career record for all-time wins for a Union women's basketball coach. His teams have won four NAIA National Championships and finished last season as the Gulf South Conference regular season and tournament champions in the program's first year of eligibility as an NCAA Division II team. He spent some time this week talking with Lipscombsports.com.
What years did you play basketball at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I played from 1989-94. My coach was Don Meyer. Assistant coaches were Mike Roller and Ralph Turner. Jason Shelton was a graduate assistant."
Why did you decide to play basketball at Lipscomb?
"Coach Meyer. No. 1, I wanted to coach and I felt like he could teach me. No. 2, the one thing I felt like I did well in basketball at that time was shoot 3s. At that time they were shooting more 3s than anybody else.
"I am from the Nashville area. My father, Dr. Robert Campbell, was a veterinarian in Green Hills. My mother, Carolyn, taught Bible at Franklin Road Academy."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"I think my favorite memory was learning what being part of a basketball program was like. There are a lot of men's and women's basketball teams around the country, but there are very few programs where there is an expectation and there is a family.
"Barbara Anderson (basketball administrative assistant) was a big part of making the program a family at Lipscomb. We would come in the offices every day and she was in there. The coaches were there.
"It was about the program. There was no you. It was just we and how do we operate in a way where we represent each other."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"Coach Meyer. I just learned details. If you fight in the details you are going to win battles. I always knew how to fight and compete as an athlete. But I never knew the how could be as simple as doing your job in a specific moment.
"For me, I think Coach Meyer really simplified the hows and whys I did things so I understood. Like anything else in life once you understand the whys and hows it is just a matter of you doing your job.
"He was great at being able to break things down. It was about getting the most out of your ability by doing your job in the moment."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"The biggest thing was I was not a Church of Christ member when I came to Lipscomb. I was a Baptist when I came there and I never became Church of Christ.
"But while I was there I realized I had to know what I believe and why I believe it. I went to the Belmont church in town when Don Finto was the preacher. I would go visit at his house and talk about the Bible. I would ask him where to find certain scriptures. Other than my Mom, Don Finto has had the biggest spiritual influence in my life.
"I was a history major, but I ended up minoring in Bible. I really wanted to understand what I believed in and why I believed it. Going out and doing anything, whether it be coaching or anything else, the fuel and the ability God has given me has to be the Gospel.
"I wanted to follow Christ. I just didn't know what that was. There were certain areas in my life where I didn't let God lead me. God continued to mature me as I came to Union. God started doing all of these things in my heart while I was Lipscomb even though I was rebellious while I was there.
"It was good for me to be in an atmosphere at Lipscomb that was different from how I was brought up. That was the biggest growth I had while I was there - the awareness of knowing what I believe, why I believe it and why it matters.
"We also had a great family there with fans and boosters. We would eat at peoples' houses. Lori and Mark Joseph had us over at their house constantly."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"At the beginning of every year, and more and more as I get older, it is about being thankful. The scriptures say it over and over again that being thankful is a sacrifice to the Lord.
"When I think about Lipscomb I am thankful. I carry everything I learned there into every season I start here at Union.
"Not only was Lipscomb a part of my basketball maturation process, but it was part of the process God used to change me spiritually as well.
"There are a lots of things I would change about my time at Lipscomb such as some of the decisions I made. But I could tell God was sanctifying me while I was there. I was not ever unaware of the direction I should be going because it was constantly in front of me from Bible classes to chapel, even on the days when I didn't listen. I was around people who had an expectation, not only about what I did on the basketball floor, but also an expectation of me going to class and an expectation of my behavior and my decision making. It didn't separate.
"Most of all I am just thankful. I told Coach Meyer before he died and told him how thankful I am at the start of every season that I get to be a basketball coach. I don't even see it as a job. I am thankful to him and thankful to Lipscomb for things they made me aware of spiritually.
"I am more than thankful for what Coach Meyer did for me. Scripturally I learned more than what my family had taught me and what my church had taught me.
"One great compliment we can all have is our lives pointed someone toward Christ. That is how I feel about Lipscomb.
"I needed help. I was thankful for every part of the process at Lipscomb."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"Dr. Richard Goode. He had a passion for early American history like the Puritans and pilgrims He taught my favorite area of American history.
"He showed a sincere passion for teaching and a sincere passion for his students as well. I thought he was a gentle, but bold, man."
Where do you live now?
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I am the women's basketball coach at Union University. I have been the head coach for 17 seasons. This is my 22nd year at Union. I came here with Ralph Turner. He was the head men's basketball coach and I was an assistant with him for five years.
"Union is an unbelievable place. There are very few places where you can be a Christ follower, a husband, a father and a coach in that order and it will be celebrated. We are given all of the resources to be successful. I have been very fortunate.
"I replaced David Blackstock who won 509 games in 18 years. I think that says more about Union than it does about the both of us. Women's basketball is really popular in this part of the state. The high school coaches have been phenomenal."
Tell us about your family.
"My wife, Molly, and I have been married 17 years. I met her when I got to Union. We have two biological children. Gray is 13 and Ella is 11. We have two adopted children from India. Kalyan is six and Mia is five."
My email address is email@example.com.