Dr. Lynn Griffith, a former tennis coach and player for Lipscomb University and a current professor in the kinesiology department, has been named to the inaugural Hall of Fame class for Cleveland State. Griffith is a busy parent and grandparent along with his wife, Dianne. In a modified “Where Are They Now” feature Griffith found time this week to speak with Lipscombsports.com.
Griffith will be inducted this Saturday, Feb. 9, with a brunch beginning at 10:30 a.m. at the Mountain View Inn in Cleveland, Tenn. The brunch will precede the Cleveland State women's and men's basketball games with Chattanooga State. All inductees will be recognized between the women's and men's basketball games.
The inaugural class of 25 inductees will represent the sports of men's and women's basketball, women's softball, baseball, golf and tennis, and coaches, as well as recognize meritorious service to Cleveland State Athletics. The class will represent Cleveland State Athletics from 1967 through 1980.
"This inaugural Hall of Fame Class recognizes the history and success of Cleveland State Athletics," stated Cleveland State Director of Athletics Mike Policastro. "I am pleased that we now have a way to honor the outstanding student athletes that have been associated within our athletic program. I would like to thank the Hall of Fame Committee for their involvement; they did an outstanding job in putting this inaugural class together."
Griffith credits his experiences at Cleveland State with helping to start him on the path for future success.
“Cleveland State was the right place for me at the right time in my life,” Griffith said. “It allowed me to build an athletic and academic foundation. I really don’t think I could have accomplished that at that time at a four-year liberal arts school.
“I wasn’t ready then for a four-year school. Cleveland State was a great place for me at that time.”
After two years at Cleveland State Griffith, a native of Chattanooga, continued his education at Lipscomb and built several more layers of experience on top of that foundation. He played tennis in 1975 and 1976 for Dr. Duane Slaughter, a member of the Lipscomb Athletics Hall of Fame.
“Duane Slaughter was huge in influencing me to want to be a coach,” Griffith said. “He was the first guy who really showed me you could care about athletics, but that academics were also important.
“He was a very strict academician. He just expected that out of you.”
Griffith also credits Jim Fuller, his middle school coach, for being the first person to have an impact on him in terms of wanting to be a teacher and a coach.
“He is a good man,” Griffith said.
Slaughter also served as one of Griffith’s teachers at Lipscomb. Another professor that Griffith remembers fondly is Eugene “Fessor” Boyce, also a Lipscomb Athletics Hall of Fame member.
“You couldn’t help but love `Fessor’,” Griffith said. “He really cared for all of his students.”
Griffith was the singles division champion one season in the Tennessee Intercollege Athletic Conference, but his greatest memory is from a match against the then University of Indiana-Indianapolis, now known as Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis.
“We wound up winning the match and, if I remember right, the team score was 6-3,” Griffith said. “I had a very important singles match. We were in the third set and I had just broken my opponent’s serve to go up 5-2 in the set.
“On the changeover he looked at me and said, `you hit the ball like a 12-year-old girl’. I just pointed at the scorecard and told him to look at the score. I told him he was getting beat by a 12-year-old girl. I served the ball four times and he was so mad that he hit the ball off the back fence every time.”
Griffith started work at Lipscomb in the fall of 1980, and has served in a number of positions ranging from department chair of the former Health and Physical Education Department, men’s tennis coach, assistant baseball coach, cross country coach, assistant athletic director and Director of Tennis Operations. He has concrete reasons for why he has chosen to stay.
“I feel like Lipscomb really treats people well,” Griffith said. “They invest in their faculty members. They give you benefits that don’t show up in your paycheck like the educational benefits for your children.
“Lipscomb made an investment in me. Hopefully, I have repaid it by making an investment in the school.”
The philosophy of the school has also been one of the reasons Griffith has never left. He is active in mission work, especially in Haiti where he has made a number of visits.
“You can have a spiritual life here, and also be academic and athletic,” Griffith said. “It has grown on my heart.”
Griffith's email address is Lynn.Griffith@lipscomb.edu