One graduate degree isn't enough for former Lipscomb University women's basketball player Latoia "Toia" McGowan. She is putting the finishing touches on a degree in chiropractic and at the same time has also been working on a Master's degree in sports science. She was in Nashville last week for the Lady Bisons' exhibition win over Freed-Hardeman and also spent some time with Lipscombsports.com.
What years did you play basketball at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I played from 2006-2010. Frank Bennett was the head coach. The assistants were Billy Snell, Katie Beth (Pate) Allen, Cheryl Smith and Lynsie Blau."
Why did you decide to attend Lipscomb?
"First, to play basketball. Also a free education. I had a full ride to play basketball.
"Coming from Davenport, Iowa to Nashville I fell in love with the city type of life.
"I also liked the colors purple and gold. The Minnesota Vikings are my favorite team. When I was working out the pros and cons of which school to go to the colors definitely drew my attention."
How much did you know about Lipscomb?
"I was not aware of Lipscomb at all. The men's basketball coach at my high school was Mark Bigler. His daughter, Julie, was a graduate assistant at Lipscomb for Coach Bennett about two or three years before I came to Lipscomb.
"Coach Bigler had seen me play a couple of times. He came up to me my senior year and asked me what my plans for school were. He asked me to contact Coach Bennett and check out the school and see if I liked it. That is pretty much how it happened.
"I made my official visit to campus the first week of January. I came off the plane and it was 70 degrees. I was like, `wow, this is what the South is'? It was below zero in Davenport when I left. I was taking off my winter coat and hat. That was awesome.
"When I first set foot on campus I remember saying this is really nice. Everybody was so welcoming. A couple of the members of the team took me to downtown Nashville. They were filming for MTV or VH1 while we were there. I was amazed all of this was going on. I was looking at the cowboy hats and cowboy boots and thinking, `wow, this is really Nashville'."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"It would probably have to be my sophomore year. We were playing Belmont in a tournament game. It was the first year Lipscomb had hosted the Atlantic Sun Tournament.
"We beat Belmont by one or two points. Catie Woods took a shot from the corner. It looked like it was short. Even the commentators calling the game thought it was short. But somehow it rolled in. It was hilarious. Beating Belmont is always a great memory."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"I was the only freshman the year I came in. Tiffany Arnold pretty much took me under her wing. She told my mom, `I've got her. It is going to be O.K. '. There was no one for me to relate with about what I was going through. She showed me the ropes my first year.
"Coach Bennett was also a big influence. He just had that never give up on you type of mentality. I had struggled with the transition my freshman and sophomore years. But he never gave up on me.
"We sat down in his office and he said we are going to figure out what is going on. You are going to stay with the team.
"Coach Bennett was patient and that is what I needed at that age. It wasn't like, `you have made a mistake and then you made another mistake. He saw my potential."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"It would be during my freshman year. I migrated to some people who I am still friends with to this day. We would hang out in the student center on Monday nights and watch Flavor Flav. I wondered why we were watching somebody with a big clock around his neck. Laughing and joking with them would be my fondest memory."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"No.1, honestly, is to never give up. Never give up on your dreams. Never give up on your passion. Anything is possible.
"Even though you are hitting a rough road there is always a brighter side to it. There is my faith and keeping God first in everything that I do. I am in the place I am today because I have kept those things in my mind."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"I have two. April Ezell would be one. I had switched majors my sophomore year. I started the exercise science major a little later than most students. She was my first teacher. She had such passion and energy, I said, `yes. I have found the right major for myself'.
"Also Kent Johnson. He definitely challenged me my senior year. His class made me realize I really wanted to work in athletics and that I wanted to be in the health care profession. And I knew I could do it. I stepped up to the challenge and did really well with my classes my last two years there."
Where do you live now?
"I am looking to move back to Nashville at the beginning of the year."
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I am finishing my chiropractic degree Dec. 18. I am also finishing my masters in sports science. I am doing a dual. Anything is possible. I am at Life University in Marietta, Georgia about 20 minutes north of Atlanta.
"I have opened up a door to geriatrics and pediatrics as well. It is an overall family of wellness. After 27 years I will actually be in a career field. I really don’t know what to do with myself right now."
Tell us about your family.
"My son Kade, one of the coolest 18-month-olds ever."
My email address is email@example.com.