Abby Keese is a project manager whose commute is often New York City to Atlanta, Georgia. This weekend she will make a stop in Nashville, however, to be honored as one of the legends of the Lipscomb softball program which is celebrating 20 years with a series of events honoring past players and coaches Saturday at Draper Diamond at Smith Stadium as part of an Atlantic Sun doubleheader with North Florida beginning at 1 p.m. Despite a busy schedule Keese spent some time talking with lipscombsports.com about her memories of Lipscomb.
What years did you play at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I played at Lipscomb from 2006 through 2010. Kristin (Peck) Ryman was the head coach. Amber Wood Knickerbocker and Lexi Myers Shrout were assistant coaches."
You played softball in high school and on club teams in Colorado. What factors made you decide to attend Lipscomb?
"Coach Ryman found me at a tournament down in Florida and started recruiting me. She sent me all of the information. It looked interesting. I visited Lipscomb and another school down in Birmingham, Alabama at the same time.
"I chose Lipscomb pretty much then and there. But then I ended up changing my mind to go to the other school. The day before signing day I knew I was making the wrong decision. I called Coach back at about 10 that night and told her I wanted to come to Lipscomb. The next day I signed at Lipscomb.
"I liked the atmosphere and the culture. I went to a small, private school in Colorado. The size of the school was something that was really important to me. I always heard kind of nasty things about going to a big school and just being a number. That was something I did not want.
"Everyone at Lipscomb was so close-knit. I knew Coach Ryman was doing great things there. It was going to be a good situation for me to walk into. I don't regret that decision ever."
You were part of the first recruiting class for Kristin Ryman who is in her 10th season as head coach. Talk about what it was like to be part of group that would help take the program to an even higher level.
"We were pretty successful. I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew Coach Ryman wanted to create and build her own program. I trusted that and I bought into it. I think we did pretty well.
"It was how we were raised and how we were taught to play the game. Coach Ryman did a great job of going out and finding quite a few diamonds in the rough and putting us all together to make it a great team and a great experience for four years."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
”There are a few that pop into my head. My personal favorite was Coach Ryman's 100th win game. I hit a walk-off home run to win the game. I think it was also her birthday too. It was a night game against Evansville my junior year.
"For the team, though, it was winning the conference tournament in 2010. We rolled through all the teams in the conference tournament our senior year. There was no way we were not going to win the conference tournament. Everyone in the tournament knew they didn't have a chance against us."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"Coach Wood did. She spent hours working with me and helping me to get better both defensively and offensively.
“Before coming to Lipscomb University I had hit maybe four home runs in my life and after working with coach Wood I became the all-time home run leader.
“She also taught me to "control the controllables" which I still use every day in my job and in life. Coach Wood and Coach Ryman tattooed that in our minds.”
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"My senior year there was a massive snow storm. Practice was canceled. School was canceled. The whole team got together and went out to the soccer field and sledded all day.
"We hopped the fence. I ripped my pants. Christen Campbell lost her mind laughing. That is the price you pay for being a rebel I guess.
"The Nashville Tennessean came out there and put us in the paper for our sledding adventure. It was a pretty cool team picture they printed."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"Accountability. In my job now that is something that holds true. My bosses tell me I hold everyone accountable and they see that as a good trait.
"Loyalty. We were a team. We were friends. We all had each other's back no matter what was going on.
"The biggest thing I learned was from Dr. Lynn Griffith who was the tennis coach and P.E. teacher. He taught me the K.I.S.S. method, `keep it simple stupid'."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"Dr. Roy Hamley in the psychology department. I was a psychology major. He always went off on tangents and told stories to explain what he was teaching. It was always exciting seeing him in his Harley Davidson outfits.
"Mrs. Deb Holloway was an English teacher. I had her for freshman English. It was me, the Sirus twins (Kellie and Kristie) and Katie Haab from the team.
"She was so kind and passionate with us. She really helped me personally with the transition of coming from Colorado to Tennessee with a new school and not knowing anyone. She was like a mother figure. She went to all of our games. She showed us that we were all a family. I really appreciate what she did."
Where do you live now?
"I live in Stamford, Connecticut on the Long Island Sound."
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I work for AmkaiSolutions, a subsidiary of Surgical Information Systems. I am based in our New York office in Westchester County, New York.
“Our headquarters is in Atlanta, Georgia where I work a couple of times a month.
“It is my job to plan an entire project, set the scope like the financial aspects and plan all the dates and hold my team accountable. Right now I am averaging 75 clients.”
Tell us about your family.
"I am single."
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.