Dr. Rachel Mattson Hall was one of the first players for the inaugural 1996 Lipscomb softball team. She teaches at Tennessee Tech University. She balances her work with family life as she and her husband, Grant, have a four-month old son, Ian. With the Lipscomb softball program celebrating its 20th year Mattson was back on campus this past weekend for the fourth annual Diamond Dinner. She spent some time talking with lipscombsports.com about her experiences as a student-athlete.
What years did you play softball at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I played from 1996 to 1999. Andy Lane was the head coach. J.J Dillingham and Debbie Giles were the assistants.
"My freshman year I played third base. After that I moved back to catcher. I had played catcher all through high school at Cookeville High School. When I played travel ball I went back and forth between third base and catcher."
Softball was a new sport at Lipscomb. Why did you decide to attend and be part of the first team?
"I grew up Church of Christ and my older brother went to Freed-Hardeman. I knew I didn't want to go there and be at the same school as my sibling.
"When Lipscomb started a softball team I was very excited. I had played travel ball in Nashville (the Eagles). It was a good avenue for me to stay at a Christian university in a good environment. And it was close enough where my parents could come to games.
"It was kind of exciting being part of a ground-breaking team. I came in my freshman year with Leslie Tuttle and April Burton. We had played summer ball together (Nashville Eagles).
"I felt really good coming to Lipscomb to be part of that first team. I had no expectations. Everything we got just seemed like it was a gift. I didn't know any different. I thought it was a great experience."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"One of favorite memories was when we went to Hawaii in 1997. I had never been. It was a great experience for us as a team because we got to play some games down there. We also got to grow as a team and as a family.
"I remember my freshman year Coach Lane decided it would be a good idea for some of us to live together in Fanning Hall. There were four of us in a suite. He actually put two pitchers and two catchers in the same suite. It was interesting to see the dynamics.
"We were all from different areas. We didn’t know each other. We were all placed together and we were able to bond, grow together and build something special. It was really great."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"It had to be Coach Lane. We started softball from scratch. We had several walk-ons and some basketball players. He really coached us as a team to be the best we could be even though we didn't have a whole lot.
"He stressed teamwork and family. He stressed the basic principles like being on time, being responsible and knowing other people were going to count on you so you had to show up and do your part."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"I was an exercise science major. Two of my main professors were Dr. Kent Johnson and Professor Ruth Henry.
"I remember Professor Henry had everyone in the class over to her house for dinner one night. I remember how the professors generally cared about their students.
"Dr. Johnson was at almost all of our softball games. I would look out and see him. It made me feel intimidated to play in front of my professors, but at the same time it was awesome they were there to support the team."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"My basic Christian values and ethics. That was instilled in me growing up in a Christian home. Having Bible classes every semester and going to chapel at Lipscomb helped me to continue to build on that foundation. Now, with a growing family, those Christian values and ethics are even more instilled into my daily life.
"I remember growing up I had gone to basketball camps there with Coach Don Meyer. I knew what I was getting into by coming to Lipscomb.
"The other night, coming back from the Diamond Dinner, my husband was asking me about dorm life. He was like, `you had a curfew'? `People checked your rooms to make sure you were there at night'? I said; think about it from the standpoint of parents. They know where their kids are. There was accountability. I am sure it gave my parents peace of mind when I was there."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"Dr. Johnson and Professor Henry. They were just wonderful. I majored in exercise science and minored in nutrition. I am not using that degree now, but it gave me a good foundation for going into the nursing profession."
Where do you live now?
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I am an assistant professor at Tennessee Tech University in the Whitson-Hester School of Nursing.
"I teach a foundation course in nursing. I teach the treatment areas of respiratory, neuro, G.I. (gastrointestinal), cancer and pain because those are my favorite topics. We co-teach classes in almost every course in nursing. No one can be an expert in everything. We divide a class up based on who has the expertise in certain areas. I also teach graduate courses.
"After I graduated from Lipscomb I went to MTSU and got my master's degree in health promotion and education. I was a graduate assistant there.
"I worked for a couple of years teaching sex education to middle school students. I also taught a lot about pregnancy issues.
"I felt like there was more I could do. A friend of mine told me about the Bridge program at Vanderbilt. I applied for it and received a master's in women's health and as a nurse practitioner. I went to work in Knoxville where I met my husband who is a nurse practitioner as well. We met in a hospital setting.
"Once I went to Vandy I knew nursing was what I wanted to do. I should have known that all along because in my family you are either a teacher, in the medical professions or in engineering and engineering was not for me.
"My husband and I did travel nursing for several years. I loved it. We were in Washington, D.C., North Carolina, Florida, New Hampshire, Arizona and Texas. We were in Alaska in Anchorage when I applied for the job at Tennessee Tech. I have been teaching there for seven years.
"I completed my Ph.D. in nursing at East Tennessee State in 2013."
Tell us about your family.
"My husband, Grant, and I will have been married eight years this summer. Our son, Ian, was born in October. He has been a real blessing."
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.