He once ran 100 miles in a day for Lipscomb Athletics (it took 17 hours), he speaks Italian as well as he speaks English, and he’s one of the university’s most popular professors. Earl Lavender spoke with Lipscombsports.com about his time as a student-athlete.
When did you compete for Lipscomb?
I ran Cross Country and Track for Coach Joey Haines in 1975-76 and 1976-77.
Why did you attend Lipscomb?
I was recruited to run by Joey Haines, and I had always wanted to come here after graduating from Ohio Valley College – a junior college at that time. Plus, I had a special interest in a Lipscomb student – Rebecca Nance – my future wife, and I had two older siblings who attended Lipscomb.
What is your most fond athletic memory at Lipscomb?
Winning the NAIA District 24 Cross Country championship and competing in the NAIA Nationals in 1976. They were hosted in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and we ran the race in the snow – it was a great experience.
Who had the largest influence on your athletic career at Lipscomb?
Besides my wife, Rebecca, I really enjoyed my teammates. I roomed with Van Behrendt – a hurdler and thrower. He was a loyal and kind friend. Jim Bloomingberg was one of the great 400 runners of our time and an even better man. Will Beyer, a cross country teammate, was also a great friend. We trained for marathons together. Coach (Joey) Haines was the first coach I had experienced in cross country who knew what he was doing. He was an excellent coach and encourager.
What is your most fond non-athletic memory from your time here?
Because of cross country, track, and being engaged to Rebecca, I didn’t have much of a social life beyond that on campus. I really enjoyed my experience at the Natchez Trace church of Christ. There was a great college and young marrieds group there at the time, and I served as youth minister for a year. Being a part of that group was a great blessing.
What’s the most valuable lesson you gained here?
My undergraduate major was physical education with a teaching and coaching emphasis. The Physical Education department of that era was formative in my thinking – I learned about coaching baseball from Ken Dugan, basketball from Don Meyer, life in general from Doc Adams, ‘Fessor Boyce and others. These were all exceptional men who gave me skills I continue to appreciate and develop.
Who was your favorite professor?
Of those listed above, it would likely be Don Meyer. After taking his course in Methods and Materials of Coaching Basketball, I scouted upcoming opponents for him. I still have my notebook from his class. As everyone who knew him understands – he was unique. He had an exceptional way of making things stick in the minds of his students.
What do you do these days?
I’m professor of Bible and Director of Missional Studies at Lipscomb. I am blessed each day to coach students in life skills through teaching courses at the undergrad, graduate, and doctoral levels in the College of Bible and Ministry and the Hazelip School of Theology.
Tell us about your family:
Rebecca (Nance) teaches middle school science and Bible at Lipscomb Academy, and we live in Brentwood. We have three married children: Rachel, Beth, and David. Rachel runs her own political consulting company in Nashville. She is married to Colin Barrett, president of the Tennessee Banking Association, and they have one son – William.
Beth is professor of Biology at Lipscomb. She is married to JP Conway, who teaches adjunct in the college of Bible and Ministry and preaches at the Acklen Avenue church of Christ, and they have three daughters – Nora, Caroline, and Maise.
David runs a videography company. He is married to Lynn (Roller), and they are both former Lipscomb student-athletes. Lynn teaches Spanish in Metro Nashville Public Schools, and they have two sons – Calvin and Wesley.
We are indeed blessed.
FAST FIVE to FINISH:
- Favorite food: Milanese breaded veal cutlet
- Favorite scripture: Luke 6:40 – “a disciple when he’s fully trained will be like his master.”
- Favorite sports team: Ohio State Buckeyes
- Favorite season: Fall
- Favorite car I’ve owned: Volkswagen bug I rebuilt
Follow Earl on Twitter @EarlLavender. If you wish to reach him, Earl’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.