Dr. Kyle Stephens was a basketball player at Lipscomb during the transition from the NAIA to the NCAA Division I. After 10 years of medical training he has returned to Henry County where he grew up to start a practice as an orthopedic general and spine surgeon. He is based at West Tennessee Bone and Joint Clinic in Paris, not far from his hometown of Springville. He spent some time this week talking with Lipscombsports.com about his time at Lipscomb and the joy of coming home again to serve his community.
What years did you play basketball at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
"I played from 1998 through 2002. Coach Don Meyer was the coach for my first year. His assistants were Jason Shelton, John Hudy and Shaun Senters.
"After that season Scott Sanderson became the head coach. His assistants were Tim Cornwell, Shaun Senters, John Hudy and Jay Walton."
What was it like to be part of the transition from NAIA to NCAA Division I?
"Looking back, there were certainly some ups and downs … no question. But overall it was a good experience. I loved my time at Lipscomb. I loved playing basketball. I loved the relationships I had with my teammates.
"The doors opened up for me to play ball there. It was obviously frustrating on the athletic side. If I remember right we were 80-20 in the first three years combined. My senior year was our first full NCAA Division I season and I think we were 6-21. But I was blessed by my time there."
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
"That would be Clayton Osborn hitting the shot to win the first game in Allen Arena. When he hit that 60-footer to beat North Texas (75-74) that was quite the deal. That is the best athletic memory that I recall.
"I enjoyed going to the NAIA National Tournament in Tulsa one year. That was fun."
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
"Coach Meyer played a huge role. I guess his influence never really left. I don't know if there was any one specific person but there was always the shadow of Coach Meyer during my time there.
"I played for him one year, but went to his camp for five years. So his influence was pretty significant over my time there."
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
"This didn't happen while I was a player, but one of my most special and memorable experiences was being back in Nashville for Coach Meyer's funeral. In terms of having that many guys who had played for him for that many generations and hearing their stories and how they had been touched by him was a memorable experience. It was great to reconnect with some of the guys.
"You are there at Lipscomb for a very different purpose than just winning a ball game. You get to reflect on what is important as you look back on Coach Meyer's life.
"I have so many fantastic memories of my time at Lipscomb. I can't name just one specifically."
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
"I think the best thing about Lipscomb and my time there is they give you a larger framework on theology. Being a surgeon, a Dad and a community leader are all pieces of a big puzzle. That is the guiding thing I left Lipscomb with."
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
"Kent Gallaher, Jon Lowrance and Phil Choate were my favorites. They all taught biology. They are why I went to medical school and studied orthopedics.
"They all had a passion and the excellence in which they practiced their craft. It was their investment in students like me. I was not the only one they poured their influence into. They all three made science come alive. The fact I am a doctor today is very much due to them.
"It was a great foundation for me to move forward. Dr. Choate made anatomy and physiology come alive. It pushed me towards thinking I could do this."
Talk about your journey to medical school.
"When I came to Lipscomb I majored in pre-med, but I was going to be a biology teacher. Dr. Choate's anatomy and physiology class really pushed me into thinking I would like to do medicine.
"So I started down that path. I planned to go to medical school right out of Lipscomb, but I didn't get in. I became a graduate assistant in the athletic department for a year and they paid for me to get a masters. I got a masters in Bible and loved it. It was two more years before I reapplied to medical school. I also went to Abilene Christian to get a masters in divinity.
"I got to explore the connection between spirituality, medicine and life. I went to med school at Kansas City University of Medicine and Bioscience."
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
"I am an orthopedic surgeon in general orthopedics and spine surgery. I am with a group called West Tennessee Bone and Joint Clinic in Paris. My partner is Dr. Blake Chandler.
"I have been there five months. I am enjoying it. I do surgeries at Henry County Medical Center.
"It has been a gift and a blessing beyond belief to be able to serve the people I grew up with. I have already done a couple of surgeries on people who changed my diapers.
"It is a life-long dream that has finally come true. I am hoping I don't wake up."
Tell us about your family.
"I met my wife, Jennifer, at ACU. We have been married 10 years. We have four boys - Garrett, Luke, Bryan and Nolan. With four boys it is never dull."
My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org