Where Are They Now?: Cheryl Smith
Friday, April 17, 2015
Where Are They Now?: Cheryl Smith

Cheryl Smith was a standout basketball player at Lipscomb as well as an assistant coach. As a player she scored 816 points, the best all time for a season (1989-1990). Her points per game average of 21.5 is second all time. For her career she was second in scoring with 2,429 points and third in rebounding with 1,006. In 2004 she was named to the Lipscomb Athletics Hall of Fame. She spent some time with lipscombsports.com talking about her memories of her college days as an athlete in the NAIA era.

 What years did you play basketball at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?

 "From 1987 through 1992. I redshirted after my junior year and was on the team for five years.

 "Frank Bennett was the head coach. April Ezell was the assistant coach."

 Why did you choose Lipscomb?

 "I came from Spring Hill, Tennessee. Lipscomb and MTSU were after me. Coach Bennett came to see me play. Coach Bennett was very quiet the first time I met him. I knew he was very well-respected.

 "I knew Lipscomb was in Nashville and it was a private school. I went to basketball camp there my junior year and after that I said, `I am not going to that school'.  It was tough.

 "Everybody called me Mrs. Ewing (because NBA star Patrick Ewing) at camp because I rebounded really well. I was a rebounding machine. I was pretty aggressive.

 "But I knew I would be well-disciplined if I went to Lipscomb. The camp was very structured. And I needed some structure in my life. I thought it would be good to go to a Christian university and get a Christian education."

 What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb? 

"Beating Lincoln Memorial on the road during the 1989-90 season. We had to win three games on the road to go to our first NAIA National Tournament.

 "It was really a close game. We won the game at the buzzer."

 Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?

 "Coach Bennett. I didn't have a father figure in my life. He became my father figure while I was in college.

 "He was passionate about his job. He was very caring. What I loved about him was he gave you more than one chance. He would give you another chance to get something right. He was very patient and loving on top of that."

What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?

 "I loved dorm life. What I didn't enjoy was we couldn't wear shorts walking on campus. After practice we would be hot and sweaty and want to go eat, but we had to wear sweat pants over our shorts to eat in the cafeteria.

 "We lived in Yearwood which was right beside McQuiddy Gym (Yearwood was torn down to make room for Allen Arena). They would get mad because we would walk from the gym to the dorm wearing our shorts."

 What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?

 "Prayer. I grew up Baptist. I went to church growing but I didn't get baptized until I went to Lipscomb. When I decided I was going to Lipscomb I knew one of the things I was going to do was learn about the Bible.

 "I got very insightful about it. I have always worried a lot but I learned if I am going to worry about it I might as well pray about it. If you stop worrying and start praying things work out. I believe in the power of prayer.

 "Coach Bennett has been such a father figure for me that I still go to him for prayer. When I need prayer now I still come to him. I know if I go to him because I need prayer that he will pray for me."

 In addition to being one of the top players you also served as an assistant coach for basketball for many years (2000-2008) as well as interim softball coach for part of one season.  What was it like to make the transition to softball in midseason in 2005?

 "We beat Alabama at Crockett Park. We didn't have our own field yet but we beat Alabama.

 "Dr. (Steve) Potts (former Lipscomb athletic director) came to my office to ask me about coaching softball. I told him I had only played two years of fast pitch softball in high school.

 "I told him I didn't know much about the game, but Kristin Peck (Ryman) knew about the game. She was a graduate assistant at that time. I told Steve Potts I would do it because I wanted Kristin to be the head coach the next year. That is why I took the job.

 "I gave her credit for all we did the rest of that season. She was the one who was running the program. I wanted Dr. Potts to guarantee me Kristin would get the job the next season. It has worked out. She has been awesome."

 What was it like to be named to the Hall of Fame? 

"I was pretty excited about it. I was talking to a guy the other day and he remembered that I had scored all of those points. It is exciting when people remember that I played at Lipscomb.

 "I tell people I am in the Lipscomb Athletics Hall of Fame. It is a big deal for me."

Who was your favorite professor? Why?

 "I majored in elementary education.

 "I loved Trish Duty Hodgson and April Ezell. I liked their personalities. They both had good attitudes. They were always personable.

 "I took Trish in a class where we learned about all the sports and she told me I needed to give up on most of them. I would kick the ball over the net in tennis. She kept on telling me tennis was a finesse game and I had no finesse.

 "She told me to stick with basketball and softball. She also said I should play golf because I was strong and a good driver.

 "Dr. Marlin Connelly was my favorite Bible teacher. He gave everybody a chance in class. He was very funny. I loved his personality."

 Where do you live now?

 "I live in Pegram, Tennessee."

 Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?

 "I am a barista at Starbucks. I work the (drive-through) window at a Starbucks in Franklin, Tennessee. I don't mind driving the long distance because I work with good people. I love the people I work with.

 "It is pretty fast paced, but I love what I do. I work at the window and take their money. My customers love me because I can give them a smile and a nice greeting in the morning. I love it because I am a people person."

Tell us about your family.

"My daughter, Chelsee, just turned 21. She will be a senior at Lipscomb University in the fall. She is studying art therapy."

My email is smithcheryl44@aol.com.