NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Milestones were celebrated and awards were presented at the Bison Bash hosted by the Lipscomb men’s and women’s tennis teams.
On a bright, sunny Saturday at the Lipscomb Racquet Club at the Huston-Marsh-Griffith Tennis Center team members, coaches and alumni celebrated 15 years of NCAA Division I tennis and 35 years of service by Lynn Griffith with the tennis program.
“You can’t get to where you are going without knowing where you came from,” Lady Bisons coach Jamie Aid said. “Luckily, for us, we came from a foundation that was built on family, compassion and faith. And that was built because of all the work Coach Griffith has done and is still doing for this program.
“We all know Coach Griffith as a man who has a passion to teach. For those of us who played for him, he taught us not only how to work hard, to compete and be good teammates but to be kind to other people at the end of the day.”
Griffith’s office at one time was next to late Lipscomb basketball coach Don Meyer. Griffith told his players to pick up trash, an instruction he often heard Meyer give to his own players.
“I really didn’t understand what that meant until I was older, but being disciplined enough to do the little things always impacts the big picture,” Aid said. “That is the greatest takeaway I took from Coach Griffith,”
Aid and men’s coach Mario Hernandez are striving to move the tennis programs to new levels. Aid stresses the importance of keeping the foundation intact.
“We are so fortunate to have a strong foundation,” Aid said. “We thank Coach Griffith so much for that.”
Griffith not only received an award, but one was also presented in his name. Dr. Gary Jerkins, a former Lipscomb tennis player, received the first Lynn Griffith Award of Excellence.
Jerkins has been a major part of the mentorship program for athletes at Lipscomb. He was presented the award by men’s player Carson Panovic and women’s player Lorena Djuknic.
“Lynn Griffith has had such an influence on so many young people who have held rackets on these courts,” Jerkins said. “I like tennis. I like to win. I hate to lose.
“But what we have done the last couple of years with our career-building program is near and dear to my heart.”
Those present spent the morning playing tennis and ate a barbecue lunch provided by Jim and Nick’s before the honors were presented.
Griffith was joined by his family, including his six grandchildren. One of his sons, Cole, joined former players Mike Sherman and Kristin Lusk at the podium to honor Griffith.
“I knew something was going on, but I did not know this was going to be my special day,” Griffith said. “It has been really neat to hear all of the stories about what supposedly happened during the past 35 years. Notice, I said supposedly, because I don’t always remember those things like that.
“I appreciate everybody thinking that I did a good job, and I think I did do a good job in a lot of ways. But I am old enough, mature enough and wise enough to know there were a lot of situations I didn’t handle as well as I could have and probably should have. You live and learn.”
Griffith, who teaches in the Department of Kinesiology, offered appreciation for the support he has been given, especially his wife, Dianne. He and Dianne also have an adopted son, Samuel, from Haiti.
“She has been my driving force,” Griffith said. “She has been supportive. It is so neat to see all of the players interact with her. Our sons, Matthew and Cole, were always around the program.”
Griffith recalled the old tennis courts by McQuiddy Gym and the progression to the courts that are now the centerpiece of the program.
“Everything that has been said is very special,” Griffith said. “I really don’t have the words to tell you how much I appreciate it.
“I appreciate the support that I have been given. I am very appreciative of Lipscomb University. The school has given me a chance to get a doctorate degree and build relationships with people and to strengthen my relationship with God.”