An above average high school basketball player, he declined college offers and decided to “just be a student” in college. That changed one night in the Lipscomb SAC, when a coach saw him playing in a pickup basketball game and put in motion a college basketball career. He credits that event with changing the direction of his life, and Michael Mays is now an accomplished high school teacher and coach who is living out his passion. We learned plenty when he sat down this week with LipscombSports.com.
What years did you compete for Lipscomb?
I played from the fall of 2000 through the spring of 2004. Scott Sanderson was our head coach, and his assistants were Jay Walton, Shawn Centers, and Tim Cornwell.
What teammate was most memorable
No question, my most memorable teammate was Chad Hartman. Chad and I happened to be placed in rooms next to each other our in High Rise dorm our freshman year. After I joined the team we became good friends and ended up rooming together for several years, both in college and afterwards. He was a great influence on me.
Unfortunately for him, his GPA dropped significantly after we became friends. Chad still works for my father, so hopefully he gained something positive from our friendship. We were in each other’s weddings and held each other's children in the hospital when they were born.
What degrees have you earned?
I earned my Bachelor’s in Health and Physical Education and my Master’s in Educational Administration, both from Lipscomb.
Why did you attend Lipscomb?
Coming out of high school, I had a few offers to play basketball in college, but I decided to stop playing basketball and attend Lipscomb. I was playing pickup in the Student Activities Center (SAC) in the fall of my freshmen year and Shawn Centers, an assistant basketball coach, happened to be watching. He spoke with me afterwards and somehow persuaded Coach Sanderson to call me the next day to ask me to walk on. I agreed and ended up playing all four years.
In retrospect, I see God moving in my life without my knowledge. Because I was in the SAC that exact day at that exact time, I ended up playing for the Bisons and changing my major from business to education. Those decisions projected me to a career in teaching and coaching, which I have done for the last 14 years. I feel this is my calling, and I will be forever grateful to the coaches at Lipscomb for giving me the opportunity.
What is your favorite athletic memory at Lipscomb?
My favorite memory is from the inaugural game in Allen Arena in 2001. My freshman year (2000) we played all of our home games in the David Lipscomb High School gym while Allen Arena was being built. My sophomore year we played North Texas in the first ever game in Allen Arena on November 27, 2001. We won the game on a 70-foot shot at the buzzer by freshmen Clayton Osborne, with a fine assist by Chad Hartman. That shot and the ensuing celebration were unforgettable.
Who influenced your athletic career at Lipscomb?
My high school coach, Mike Roller, and my father, Burke Mays, were my two strongest influences.
Through his example, my dad taught me the secret to success is working harder than everyone else – with no excuses – and finding a way around obstacles. This lesson served me well in my athletic career and in my adult life.
Coach Roller taught me how to be mentally and physically tough. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to learn from Coach Roller, both as a player and as an adult. The toughness he taught me helped on the basketball floor at the college level, but it has been even more beneficial in life.
What do you remember about Lipscomb campus life during your time here?
I remember the relationships. I had the time of my life, and I made lifelong friends at Lipscomb University. There is nothing like the college experience where you are around your friends 24/7. I am thankful that I lucked into having great friends who were a positive influence and kept me out of trouble … for the most part.
What’s the most valuable lesson you learned in your time at Lipscomb?
I learned the importance of a disciplined approach to life. I had always approached basketball in that way, but not much anything else. The challenges at Lipscomb helped cement in my mind that anything worthwhile will be difficult and takes work, commitment, and sacrifice – but is worth it in the long run.
Who were your favorite professors?
My favorite instructor was Trish Hodgson. She was a professor in the Kinesiology department and she taught several of my classes. I was not exactly the model student my first couple years and Trish knew that. She pushed me to be better, and at some point it took hold. She taught me the importance of a professional approach to a career.
What do you do now?
I teach Physical Education and Wellness, and I coach high school boys basketball at Ezell Harding Christian School in Nashville. I am thankful to have a career that is my passion. I get to be a part – along with many other Lipscomb grads – of a school and athletic program where we can teach kids about the most important things.
Tell us about your family:
I married Whitney (Prady) Mays (LU grad 2008) and we have 2 girls – Evie (6) and Olivia (5) – who both attend Ezell Harding. We live in Brentwood and Whitney teaches 6th grade Reading and Language Arts at Brentwood Middle School.
- Favorite food: Burrito
- Favorite TV show or movie: Legend of the Fall
- Favorite Bible scripture: Micah 6:8 – “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
- Favorite sports team: Los Angeles Lakers
- Person I most admire: My parents
- Rather ride or drive? Drive
- Pick one – salad or dessert: Dessert
- Dream vacation spot: Grand Teton National Park
- Early morning or late night person? Late night
You can connect with Michael by:
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Facebook: Michael Mays
- Twitter: @ezellbasketball
- Instagram: ezellhardingbasketball