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Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Subjects for the "Where Are They Now" feature have often taken time out of their busy schedules to talk with lipscombsports.com. But Allen Sharpe moved to the top of the list. Sharpe was in a truck moving his family from Arkansas to Alabama while he answered questions. The former Lipscomb basketball player, a member of the 1,000-point club with 1,431 career points, is the 11th coach in the history of the University of West Alabama. His new position was announced May 20. Sharpe, the head basketball coach at Arkansas-Monticello for the past four years, has never experienced a losing record in 12 years as a head coach. He became the first coach for Arkansas-Monticello to post four consecutive winning seasons, besting even his father Gary's record at the school. Lipscomb fans might remember that Gary Sharpe was the head coach at Arkansas-Monticello when Lipscomb won 67-54 to capture the NAIA National Championship in 1986.
What years did you play at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I played for Lipscomb from 1995-2000. We all redshirted. Don Meyer was the head coach.
"I was a point guard and No. 2 guard. I went back and forth. Coach Meyer would get mad at me for shooting too much at the point."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"The trips to Hawaii to play basketball."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"Growing up, my Dad had a big impact on me. He made me work hard and practice. He carried me to basketball games. Every afternoon I was either at a practice for the team I was playing for or I was at a practice for my Dad's teams.
"Coach Meyer had a huge impact on me at Lipscomb. Because my Dad was in coaching I kind of knew about Coach Meyer. It was a great experience playing for him. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. It was a coaching clinic every day.
"I didn't realize that until later. I know I kind of took it for granted what I was exposed to every day. When Coach Meyer passed away I saw all of the comments, the Twitter messages and the stories in the papers. I didn't realize when I played for him just who he was…how big of a person he was.
"I will never forget early in my freshman year I went over to the basketball office at Holman House. We would always have to go over there and sign in every day.
"I had an 8-9 a.m. class. I went in the back door. Coach Meyer's office was to the left. You always tried to walk by real fast so he wouldn't see you and call you in for something. But he said, `Al, come in here.' Then he asked me, `what have you done today to make yourself better. You talk about panic. It is 9 in the morning and he wants to know what I have done to make myself better?' I am not sure what I said, but I came up with something. He always kept you guessing and kept you on your toes."
Compare and contrast the coaching styles of your father and Coach Meyer?
"They were similar in a lot of ways. They were both no-nonsense. disciplined coaches. Practices were intense. They were very business-like. There was no fun and games. It was time to go to work in practice.
"Coach Meyer took it to another level in terms of fundamentals and technicalities of the game. He was on another level above every coach.
You were sitting on the bench with your father at Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri when Lipscomb beat Arkansas-Monticello for the NAIA National title. What do you remember about that experience?
"I was 8 years old. I wasn't the typical 8-year-old. I was on the bench coaching. I was into it.
"When Lipscomb beat my Dad's team I hated them. Through the years, as I got older, Daddy always wanted me to go to Coach Meyer's camps. I wasn't about to go. It is amazing that I ended up playing for him in the end."
What made you decide to attend Lipscomb to play basketball?
"I know my Dad probably had a lot to do with it by reaching out to some coaches. He would never tell me that, but I am sure he reached out to Coach Meyer. I signed before Christmas my senior year.
"Tom Kelsey and Coach Meyer came up to Barbourville, Kentucky one day to sign me. I was playing for Knox Central High School. My Dad had taken a job as athletic director at Union College."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"It would have to be meeting my wife, Susan. I had to score 47 points one night in a Rolo game in the summer at camp before she would notice me. It took off from there. She barely knew who I was until I did that. We rode the bus (to games) together for two years and we never spoke to each other.
"It would also have to be the times that we had as a team in High Rise on the seventh floor. Those were great times just goofing off with my teammates."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"Probably the way Coach Meyer stressed teamwork. It was so unique there. I got a different perspective because I am on the coaching end of it. We were all there four or five years together. We worked the camps together in the summer. We played games together. We were together all of the time. It is something that I don't think will ever be duplicated again.
"All I want to do from a team standpoint is to give my players just a little bit of what I experienced at Lipscomb. I am not talking about just winning games. I am talking about the love that we had for our teammates."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"Trish Hodgson. She was tough as a boot. She was hard on us, but she was a good one.
"I majored in health and physical education and got a teaching certificate. She was my advisor. I remember the first day I met her. I was a freshman and really didn't know what an advisor did. She had everything mapped out for me for each semester for the next four years. She was very organized…very detailed. She also observed me as a student teacher.
"She could take a badminton or whiffle ball class and make it the biggest deal ever. No matter what she was teaching she was into it."
Where do you live now?
"We are in the process of moving to Livingston, Alabama."
Tell us about your family.
"My wife Susan (Faulkner) is a former Lipscomb women's basketball player (also a point guard). We have three children - Garrison (10), Ally (7) and Anderson (4).
"Anderson is actually named after Barb Anderson (Meyer's administrative assistant). Barb is a good one. She was good to us."
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.