Where are they now? Wade Tomlinson
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Where are they now? Wade Tomlinson

Wade Tomlinson has been a familiar face around the Lipscomb campus this year. He was one of the main participants in the memorial service at Allen Arena for Coach Don Meyer. He also was in town earlier in the fall to watch some of the filming of "My Many Sons" a movie about Coach Meyer scheduled to be released in late March or early April of 2015. This past weekend he was at Allen Arena to watch the Lady Bisons play the Tennessee Lady Vols in a basketball game. Before the tip-off he spent some time with lipscombsports.com.

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

"I played here from 1986 through 1990. Don Meyer was the head coach."

What made you decide to play basketball at Lipscomb?

"I was a camper for years here and believe me Coach Meyer had no idea who I was.

"I always said I would never come here because back then when I was coming to camp it was before the shot clock and three-point line. They would make 500 passes before they took a shot. The year before my junior year of high school Lipscomb won the national championship and started to push the ball and run with the ball. That caught my attention.

"But probably the biggest thing was Coach Ralph Turner. He literally lived at Decatur High School gym. He was always there watching me play. He went all out. There is no telling how many games he saw me play.

"Between Coach Turner and Coach Meyer changing his philosophy from making 35 passes to pushing the ball and running. Coach Turner practically begged me to come here."

What about Coach Meyer's first time to see you play a high school game?

"Our team wasn't very good my junior year. We were playing in the "Huntsville Times" Tournament against Gadsden, the No. 1 team in the state. We were playing a small gym in Huntsville. Coach Meyer called it the `cracker box' gym.

"Several college coaches were there to watch Gadsden. I knew everybody was there to watch Gadsden play. It was one of those games where I was ready to play. I had a nice game with something like 35 points and beat them.

"After the game Coach Meyer came up to me and introduced himself. I told him I knew who he was because I had been to his camp for the past 10 years. He was like, `really?' That was it. That was the sales pitch."

What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?

"There are so many. The important thing about playing on great teams is you remember the bad stuff more than the good.

"I remember more about the things I did with the guys back in the dorm. We still talk about picking on each other and cutting up. There was never a dull moment.

"But the game I really remember is the first `Battle of the Boulevard' game with Belmont at Vanderbilt. There was a lot of hype about the game, but we thought that if we’re lucky there might be 10,000 people there.

"I had family from Alabama coming up to watch the game. I told them they would be able to get in easy. They drove all the way up here and they couldn't get in because the game sold out. I didn't know what had happened to them until after the game.

"I had a great game. Hutch and I had a deal before the game. We had to park behind the Holiday Inn. We were carrying our packs and talking with fans as we walked to Memorial Gym. We made a pact that the one who had the best game could use a certain line about the game.

"Everybody was asking about the huge crowd. It was so loud. They asked us how we kept it in perspective with all the coverage from local to Sports Illustrate. I told them how I kept it in perspective with this line I got to use, `I will tell you how I keep it in perspective. When LSU and Shaquille O'Neal play Vanderbilt tomorrow Shaq isn't going to be walking to the gym from the other side of the Holiday Inn. They are going to come up to the front door. I think it made both the Tennessean and the Nashville Banner. That is what Hutch had said as we were walking over. He guaranteed that Shaq wasn't going to have to walk from the Holiday Inn."

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

"That would be Coach Meyer without a doubt. When I spoke at his funeral you could see that.

"He was exactly what I needed as a coach as an 18-year-old boy and I was a boy. It started athletically and carried on after the athletic part of it was over.

"You respected him. He was different. He was intense and competitive.

"My Dad (Tommy) was tough. He has played at North Alabama. Coach Meyer was an extension of my Dad. I was ready for the way Coach Meyer got on you and pushed you.

"The constant with Coach Meyer was all-out effort and intensity. He was giving effort and demanding effort. You knew where you stood with him and I liked that as a player."

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

"I loved being on the seventh floor of High Rise living with the guys on the basketball team. You could be a little more responsible and disciplined. It kept us more in line.

"We were on one end. Baseball was on the other end and golf was in the middle.

"I liked hanging with people on Bison Square. We had a lot of guys on the team with great personalities."

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

"It really hits you when you have to experience something unfortunate. When we lost our son it was unbelievable how not only Lipscomb, but all the friends we had that came up and teammates that I didn't even play with who came up. Our neighbors and friends still talk about all of the people who came up to our house.

"There are also the Christian principles that you are taught. There is no substitute for the Christian principles that are taught at Lipscomb."

Who was your favorite professor? Why?

"I had a lot of them. I needed so much help. I majored in government and public administration.

"The faculty and staff at Lipscomb were great with me. They were genuine people.

"I remember Dr. Gerald Fulks. He and his wife would take me out to eat. They were very nice to me.

"Bob Hendron taught Bible and I took every class he taught. I liked his approach. He had a little more laid-back approach and I appreciated that. He and I hit it off.

"Dr. Dwight Tays was my advisor. Dr. Robert Hooper was good to me.

"English was one area where I struggled early. I took a non-credited English course. Dr. Earl Lomax told us we are not going to all this `bonehead' English. I told him, `we know why we are in there and it is bonehead English.

"Dr. Bobby Brown helped me out a lot in accounting."

Where do you live now?

"I live in Salem, Indiana."

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

"I work at a manufacturing plant called Jeans Extrusions. We extrude PVC plastic. We create the parts inside walk-in coolers you see in a convenience store.

"We do a little bit of everything, but I am in charge of all of the production."

Tell us about your family.

"I met my wife, Jennifer, here at Lipscomb. She was Jennifer Jean.

"I met her toward the end of my junior year. We didn't really start dating until my senior year and she was out of school.

"I met her through a mutual friend. She was part of group that I went to a Chinese restaurant with. We just hit it off.

 "We have two daughters, Hope and Macie."

My email address is: jtomlinson@twc.com