As a head coach for Lipscomb Don Meyer set a new standard for basketball excellence at Lipscomb University which included the 1986 NAIA National Championship. One of the key members of that team was forward Bob Ford. He visited campus this week and spoke to the members of the 2015-16 team. He also spent some time with Lipscombsports.com. talking about his experiences at Lipscomb.
What years did you play at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"From 1983-84 to 1986-87. Coach Don Meyer was the head coach. Ralph Turner was the assistant coach."
What attracted you to play basketball for Lipscomb?
"I came to Lipscomb with Anthony Jones. We were on the same high school team together. We both came to Lipscomb and tried out. We were both offered scholarships that same day.
"It was the first time I had been on Lipscomb's campus. It was more about basketball for me at the time to be perfectly honest. I was young. I had heard a lot about Lipscomb. Being from Alabama and out of high school I was kind of terrified a little bit because I had never been away from home.
"Once I met a lot of the folks on campus, and especially Coach Meyer, I saw how he treated the team as a family. He introduced us to his family. There was Barb Anderson (basketball administrative assistant). It put you at ease having that family setting."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"Winning the 1986 NAIA National Championship in Kansas City (five wins including a 67-54 come-from-behind title game win over Arkansas-Monticello).
"The 1986 team was about not letting your teammates down. That is the way Coach Meyer approached the game …playing against the game and not your opponent.
"We wanted to make sure we executed on the court so we wouldn't let our teammates down. That was our approach to the tournament. In the tournament I wanted to do everything I could to make sure the seniors got what they deserved. We had a great bunch of seniors that year.
"Winning the championship was a surreal moment. You work so hard to accomplish a goal like that. It was one of my best times playing basketball."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"Next to my father, that would be Coach Meyer. He spent a lot of time with me just in conversation. Even when I was out of the program we still talked quite a bit.
"I was that person who was shy. I couldn't voice the things I was thinking and he helped me along with that. I give him credit for that.
"He was very demanding, but you find yourself being similar to him as you get older. For excellence you have to be that way. There was also another side to him. He could be very demanding but when you are honest with people and tell them something is in their best interest you can be as hard as you need to be. They understand it is not about hurting you. It is about helping you.
"What stands out for me is the emphasis he put on hard work and that you can be anything you want to be in life if you put the work in. That stands out to me more than anything.
"It is about working hard and being humble. You can achieve anything you want to achieve."
What are your favorite memories overall from your time at Lipscomb?
"I really didn't have any bad memories. I was in a different environment, especially with the number of African-Americans who were here at the time. That was an adjustment for me.
"I can't say it was bad. I was comfortable on campus. I think it was a good learning experience for me. It was a time when I learned more about myself. I think that experience still strengthens me now. It helped me put things into perspective.
"You take people at face value and then they show you if they are a good person or a bad person. When I meet someone I think they are good people until they prove me wrong.
"Going to chapel everyday was something I was not used to when I first came to Lipscomb. But as I got older it made more sense to me. When you go through bad times you start to understand you need more than a human approach to solve all of your problems. That is when you resort back to what you learned in chapel or in Bible classes and look to God for answers.
"You start to put things all together. When you start to line things up with God, family and work you are going in the right direction. Things start happening for you.
"At 18 or 19 you don't understand that. Being at Lipscomb at 18 or 19 was the best thing that could have happened for me. It kept me from some of the distractions out in the world."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"Having a balance in life - a spiritual balance, a social balance, a financial balance and a personal life balance.
"One of the things I resort to the most is having a balance. Once you are comfortable with yourself you are not intimidated by different things in life."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
Jeanne Bowman. I was a social work major and she was a professor in the department. She was a great mentor for me.
"Speaking with her and talking with her inside and outside the class I started to find out more about myself like how can I help others.
"We all have a personal challenge within ourselves. One of the things she instilled in me is the challenge to help others.
"We look at the different platforms in life and how we can help people. We have to value everybody's personality and everybody's culture. That is one of the things I took from her."
Where do you live now?
"I live in Huntsville, Alabama."
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I am employed by Wal-Mart. I have been doing this for 23 years. I am a store manager. I have been doing that about five years. I have 300 associates and 14 managers.
"A lot of what I have been taught there is how to deal with people such as large crowds. It has been a plus for me to go back to those classes I took and the importance of valuing everyone. I think in life as a leader we have to realize everyone has something to bring to the table."
Tell us about your family.
My wife Sylvia and I have been married for 25 years. Our daughter, Constance Ford, is a junior at Alabama-Huntsville (UAH). We have a son Robert. We call him R.D. He is a senior in high school."
My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org