Feb. 6, 2008
Beth Stewart Stark is easily the most decorated player in the 30-year history of women's basketball at Lipscomb University.
On Feb. 9 the Woodbury, Tenn., resident will add another honor. She will be inducted into the Lipscomb Athletics Hall of Fame at a luncheon celebrating her induction at noon.
She will be officially introduced at halftime of Bisons game with Jacksonville at Allen Arena at 2. The Lady Bisons will play at 4.
"If you look at everything she is the most athletic player we have ever had," said Lady Bisons coach Frank Bennett. "She was very talented. She was just a competitor."
Stark played at the No. 4 forward spot from 1992 through 1996 for the Lady Bisons during the NAIA era.
"During the four years that she and Lynn Randolph played we had the best record for a four-year period, 125-23, averaging 31 wins a year and less than sixth losses per year," Bennett said.
Stark is the all-time scoring leader in Lady Bisons basketball history with 2,880 points. She holds school career records for most field goals made (1,162), most field goals attempted (1,766), field goal percentage (65.8), free throws made (542) and free throw attempts (736).
"A 65 percent field goal average is almost unheard of," Bennett said. "If the ball was thrown anywhere close to her she could catch it. She was quick to go up with the ball. She had a knack for scoring no matter what the other teams threw against her."
Her awards include Transouth Player of the Year in 1995 and 1996, NAIA All-America First Team in 1995 and 1996 and Team MVP in 1994 and 1995. She was also a Kodak-All America in 1995 and 1996.
"I played with great players," Stark said. "There is no way I would have received as many of accolades if I had not played with such good basketball players."
The Lady Bisons made four trips to the NAIA National Tournament, including a second place finish in 1993-94.
"We were good," Stark said. "Nothing makes basketball more fun than winning. Everyone was there to win. I don't think you could have found a more competitive group of girls.
"In games we were willing to do whatever it took to win. It was great knowing that you could count on every single person to give everything they had. How could you not enjoy being one of the best teams in the country and really having a chance to win a national championship?"
No one was more competitive than Stark in a tournament setting, especially in the NAIA National Tournament.
"The thing I remember most about her is that she loved playing in tournaments," Bennett said. "Her freshman year she hit 80 percent of her shots in three games.
"We were leading Southwestern Oklahoma, a traditional power. In the second half Beth sprained her ankle and went to the training room. By the time she came back we had lost by two. She was always at her best against the best competition."
The Lady Bisons were winners, but they also created a bond as a team.
"Everyday was fun," Stark said. "I'm not talking about practice necessarily but about the relationships I had with my teammates. We laughed and laughed everyday.
"We were always together. I know that I didn't want to hang out with anyone other than my teammates. We were the best of friends."
Another constant was Bennett who taught his players more than just the basics of game of basketball.
"Coach Bennett cared about us all," Stark said. "He made sure to teach us not only basketball but tried to help us learn about life too."
Tickets to the luncheon in room 301 of the Ezell Center are $15. The dress is business casual. To purchase tickets call Greta Harber at 615-966-5899 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.