Kristen Sturdivant felt like it was God’s plan she would attend Lipscomb University and play softball. She is glad she followed His instructions. She starred on the field and in the classroom. She teaches fifth grade social studies and Bible in the middle school at Lipscomb Academy and is starting her third season as an assistant softball coach. In her spare time she cheers on her hometown Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA. Kristen spent some time this week talking with Lipscombsports.com.
What years did you play at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?
“I started softball in the fall of 2010 and finished in the spring of 2014. Kristin Ryman was my head coach. My first two years the assistant was Lexi Myers Shrout. J.J. Dillingham and Megan Rhodes Smith were the assistants my last two years.”
Why did you choose to attend Lipscomb?
“I went to camp at Lipscomb. I had known players like Whitney Kiihnl and Christen Campbell before I came to Lipscomb I knew they were at Lipscomb and I thought maybe this is something I should check out.
“My journey getting to Lipscomb was a little rocky and I thank God every day that he led me to Lipscomb. It was something I didn’t see coming. I was planning to go to another university, where I had attended camp every year when I was growing up, but they had some coaching changes going on and things didn’t work out.
“My Dad suggested I come to camp at Lipscomb. When I went to the camp I fell in love with the campus. I loved the smaller university atmosphere. I always knew I was going to go into education and I had heard great things about the education department. It was just the perfect fit.”
What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?
“I think it would be playing in the NCAA Regional at Tennessee my senior year. It was such a fun experience watching the selection show on ESPN with my teammates and to see Lipscomb streamed across the screen. I couldn’t think of a better way to end my career as a Lady Bison than playing in the NCAA Tournament in Knoxville with some of my favorite teammates.
“We were an at-large bid. We played Virginia Tech, Charleston Southern and Tennessee. I remember watching the selection show. I was sitting with Kelsey Cartwright. We both looked at each other and we were like `what is going to happen?’ and `do you think we are going to get in’? We were both so nervous.”
Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?
“I loved my coaches, but it would probably be my teammates who had the biggest influence on me.
“The relationships I developed with two teammates – Caroline Mason and Dee Baddley – really helped me not only athletically, but they also influenced me spiritually on and off of the softball field.
“I played with Caroline my first two years. She automatically took me under her wing. She was the one who calmed me down at practice. I was a freshman trying to earn a spot and she would give me pep talks and speak so much positivity into me. When we were hitting partners we worked hard and got things done, but we had such a good time together.
“Caroline lives in Mount Juliet so her parents became like a second family to me. We would go over there and eat dinner and spend time there on the weekends. It was nice to have a family away from home.
“Dee came in my last two years. At that point I had earned my spot and I was playing, but I became my own worst critic. I was always so hard on myself. But Dee was always there.
“I tell this story all of the time. It was one of our early games my junior year. I had done something in the game, which was probably not as bad as I made it out to be. Dee walked up to me and grabbed my shirt and asked. `why are you upset?’. I remember looking at her and thinking, `who do you think you are?’ A lot of people tried to calm me down, but for some reason that sweet soul reached me on different mental levels than anybody else could.
“We had a ritual before every game after warmups. Dee would pick a Bible verse and she would read it to me and it calmed us both down, paved the way for an easier game and helped us think about what is the higher purpose of playing softball. I still have all of the verses she gave to me. They are in a jar in my bedroom.”
What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?
“The statute of limitations is out on this one so I shouldn’t get in trouble. A few of us stepped onto the roof of Johnson Hall one night while the social clubs were having some type of party out in the square. We shot water balloons off of the roof at all of the social clubs. I know that was horrible, but it was fun.
“We actually shot the balloons out of Elam too. We had one of those massive launchers. One person would hold each side and another person would be in the middle pulling back the slingshot. It shot really far.”
What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?
“Probably the mindset of I don’t control my life. God does. I think about the quote, `I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future’.
“I was baptized my sophomore year. It was about growing in my faith and going through ups and downs on the softball field and off the softball field and knowing whatever happens in life God always has a plan and a purpose. He has given me all of the tools I need to tackle any hurdle I face.”
Who was your favorite professor? Why?
“I majored in elementary education: K-6. My favorite professors are both from the education department – Dr. Junior High and Dr. Emily Medlock.
“Dr. High was the first professor I met in the education department and he taught the first education class that I took. I remember going into that class and hearing him talk about teaching and his passion for teaching. I just hoped I could have that passion someday like he talked about with us. His joy of teaching, and some of the experiences he told us about, were amazing to me.
“He spoke a lot of positivity to me. Whenever I would teach a lesson I would say `Dr. High, I should have done this and this’ and he would say Kristen it is okay, your lesson went fine. He told me I would be a great teacher. He put a lot of confidence into me.
“Dr. Medlock taught a classroom management class. I just remember pulling out so much from that class. She was also my advisor so I already had a connection with her. I learned so many practical things in her class that I am using in my classroom today. I just learned so much from being in her classroom.”
Where do you live now?
“I live in Nashville.”
Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?
“I teach fifth grade social studies and Bible at the middle school at Lipscomb Academy. I taught fourth grade for two years at the elementary school. I am also in my third season as an assistant softball coach working with head coach Jeramy Ezell. I am blessed and so thankful for my position at Lipscomb Academy. Once again, God had a plan.”
Tell us about your family.
“I am single, but I have been dating someone for a year-and-a-half.”
My email address is Kristen.firstname.lastname@example.org.