He came to Lipscomb from Bowling Green, Kentucky, as a runner and a third generation Bison. He met his future wife their first week on campus, and he now teaches the same classes his mentors taught him. Tom Riley is a well-educated, Godly, bundle of energy who visited this week with LipscombSports.com to tell about his days as a student.
What years did you compete for Lipscomb?
I ran Track in 1976-77 for Coach Joey Haines.
What teammates were most memorable?
Three come to mind immediately. Jim Bloomingburg was an incredible sprinter with a wild stride. He was fun to watch!
Rainey Wanhaus was a walk-on like me, but he dropped out. We often ran together early in the morning before class. Once he came to my house in Kentucky – I don’t remember if it was for a weekend or a holiday – but I clearly remember we did our workouts in the snow.
Earl Lavender was a friend of my sister, Linda. She had travelled with the Lavenders on a mission trip called Project Italy, and he had come to our house a time or two. So, Earl and I were friends before I arrived on campus.
What degrees have you earned?
B.A.—David Lipscomb College (1980)
M.A.R.—Harding Graduate School of Religion (Memphis, 1987)
M.Div.—Lipscomb University (2003)
D.Min.—Abilene Christian University (2014)
Why did you attend Lipscomb?
I wanted to come to Lipscomb from my earliest memories. My dad, Barclay Riley, graduated from Lipscomb, and his dad, Thomas Jefferson Riley, attended here before the name was changed to David Lipscomb College. My older brother and sister both came to Lipscomb before me, and I had visited campus year after year so it was home to me.
What is your favorite athletic memory at Lipscomb?
Flying down the hills at Percy Warner Park as Coach Haines was working on our fast-twitch muscles (and all-out speed!)
Also, there was the time we jogged to Overton High School for a full workout. Afterward, Coach Haines wanted me to log some extra miles that day, so he told me to run to Radnor Lake before heading back to campus. I got lost and ran around Brentwood in search of Radnor Lake, and I ended up running a good half-marathon on top of the other mileage and sprint workout. When Coach Haines heard about it, he excused me from practice the next day.
Who influenced your athletic career at Lipscomb?
Coach Joey Haines, for sure. He moved me around to events in which I would be more and more competitive. Also, he showed me stretches that quickly resolved shin-splits issues that had haunted me throughout high school. I felt better than ever when I was running for him.
What do you remember about Lipscomb campus life during your time here?
- Meeting my future wife, Anne Kjonaas (now Riley), while waiting in line at the President’s Reception as freshmen
- Pledging Tau Phi
- Studying Greek every spare second
- Singarama and, of course, the Tau Phi Cowboy Show
- Taking Anne to the formal occasions of both Tau Phi and Psi Alpha.
- Once married, we lived in the married student duplexes on Belvidere, where Dugan Field is now located.
What is the most valuable lesson you learned in your time at Lipscomb?
I learned about: 1) the grace of God, and 2) the reality of the Holy Spirit. These were life-changing revelations for me.
Who were your favorite professors?
- Harvey Floyd taught me 1 and 2 above.
- Rodney Cloud brought the Old Testament to life.
- Marlin Connelly taught me boldness in speaking.
- Batsell Barrett Baxter taught me humility by the power of his life.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on the campus of Potter Children’s Home, where my dad was the superintendent. There were five of us siblings, and we were surrounded by 100 more children in a 24/7 youth ministry and benevolence mission. It was an incredible blessing. Some have wondered if I resented sharing my parents with so many others: no way! At the end of each day, I went home in the middle of campus with my parents. I am so thankful for all of it.
What do you do now?
I teach Bible at Lipscomb—the “Story” classes. I love our students. I’m also the Director of Outreach and Development for the College of Bible and Ministry. Besides that, I preach at Nolen Hills Church in Nolensville.
Tell us about your family:
My wife, Anne, is an incredible Christian woman. She is the Principal at Franklin Elementary in Franklin. Our daughter, Emily, is an attorney, married to her college (Pepperdine) sweetheart, Cesar Guerrero. They both work with the State Department and live in Miami with our two granddaughters, Anika (7) and Isabel (5). Besides D.C., they have lived in Indonesia and Venezuela. Our son, Jim, teaches at Columbia State in Franklin.
- Favorite food: Chocolate
- Favorite TV show or movie: Chariots of Fire
- Favorite Bible Scripture: 2:10 – “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
- Favorite team: Phoenix Suns
- Rather ride or drive: Drive
- Pick one – salad or dessert: Salad
- Dream vacation: Mediterranean cruise
- Early morning or late night person? Both early morning and late night depending on the need at the time
You can reach Tom by email at Tom.Riley@lipscomb.edu or connect on Facebook: Tom Riley