She’s one of only a handful of student-athletes who excelled at two completely different sports, and she performed the feat at a challenging time – as Lipscomb was moving from the NAIA to the NCAA. But Kristin Peck Ryman is a gifted individual who has turned her athletic passion into success as a coach. Next week she’ll be inducted into the Lipscomb Athletics Hall of Fame, but she’s equally proud of her job as wife and mother. She graciously shared her thoughts in a conversation this week with LipscombSports.com.
When did you compete for Lipscomb?
I played at Lipscomb from 1999-2003. I played for three different volleyball coaches (Jeff Spivey, Kim Barham, and Brandon Rosenthal) and three different softball coaches (Sherri Dickens, Amy Becker, and Andy Lane).
What degrees have you earned?
I earned my Bachelor’s of Science in Health & Physical Education-Teaching in December 2003 from Lipscomb. I started my Master’s degree in Education in January 2004 (also at Lipscomb), but delayed finishing it when I was hired as the head softball coach. I finally wrapped it up in 2008.
Why did you attend Lipscomb?
Coming out of high school, I was being recruited in three different sports. I had a REALLY hard time deciding what sport(s) to choose, and ultimately, I decided to choose a school where I had the option to play two sports. Lipscomb was the perfect fit for me. I knew they would be moving to NCAA DI during my time in college, and that was exciting to me. It was the perfect blend of strong academics and winning athletics, with a Christian environment and personal feel. And hello…NASHVILLE too!
On top of that, Lipscomb was close to my family, which was important for me, and I knew I’d have a chance to play right away. My mom had gone to Lipscomb (along with several extended family members), and I grew up knowing about the school. I wouldn’t change anything about my decision or my time here. I grew so much in my faith and developed some of the best relationships; plus I got to experience the postseason in softball. If not for my time here, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the job here or met my husband here. God has been steering my path from the beginning, and I just knew this was home the first time I visited.
What is your favorite athletic memory at Lipscomb?
My favorite athletic memory is probably playing in the NAIA National Softball Tournament my freshman year. That team was special, and I was so grateful to be a part of it with those girls. We finished in the top 8 in the nation that year. I also remember getting a walk-off double my sophomore year to win 4-3 in 10 innings in the TranSouth Conference Championship game against our biggest rival. We were both ranked nationally, and our games against each other were always close. I remember seeing Coach Becker waving Brandy Roberts all the way from first base. I remember the excitement of the moment with my teammates. It was so cool and definitely the biggest hit of my career. Getting to play in Hawaii my sophomore year was pretty awesome too.
In volleyball, I remember playing in Allen Arena for the first time. It had not been built yet when my career began, so getting to play there to end my career was pretty cool. It felt huge compared to McQuiddy Gym. We weren’t the most talented team at the time, but I took a lot of pride in being a leader and helping the younger girls. Seeing them be able to build on that with Brandon after I graduated has been really gratifying. He has completely reshaped the program, and I got to see the start of it first-hand.
Who influenced your athletic career at Lipscomb?
I learned something from each of my coaches at Lipscomb, but one of the most influential was Brandon Rosenthal. I was the only senior on the team in his first year as head volleyball coach. He didn’t have any assistant coaches, so he leaned on me a lot for leadership within the team. I didn’t want to let him down. He was young and he pushed the limits. He didn’t settle for mediocrity, and he always told us, “the only thing you deserve is what you earn.” He taught me so much about the sport, but he also took me under his wing and pushed me off the court to truly go for it. Even when I left the sport of volleyball to become the head softball coach, he encouraged me and challenged me. I’ve taken so much from him and implemented it into how I coach. He was the coach that probably took the greatest interest in me personally, and we have remained close well after my playing days.
I also had some of the best teammates – girls whom I wanted to play hard for and learn from. I basically had two teams of girls, volleyball and softball, to grow with. I knew I only got to spend half of the year with them, so I wanted to impress them with my work ethic every day. I wanted them to want me out on the field or court with them. They were so gracious when I had to sometimes miss team events because of playing two sports, and they helped me grow along the way. Eventually, I moved into a leadership role and got to help shape some of the younger players in the way it had been done for me. I will forever be grateful to have been able to play with those girls.
And of course, my parents/family were always so supportive too. They came to as many games as they could and put so much on hold to be there for me. Ultimately, if you are going to play two sports at the college level, you better have great time management, a next level work ethic, and support from your people. My parents and sisters are my people, and they helped me keep my standards high, and loved me the same regardless of outcome or performance. Their support meant and still means the world to me.
What is the most valuable lesson you learned in your time at Lipscomb?
The most valuable lessons I learned are to appreciate the entire journey and not just the parts you enjoy, to be where your feet are, and to leave a place nicer than you found it.
I was here during the time of transition from the NAIA to the NCAA. For part of my career, our locker rooms were in trailers, coaches’ offices were in cubicles in the basement of a dorm, and we were not in a conference (which meant no postseason play). I played for six different head coaches in two sports. But that was part of the journey. I got to be a part of something that has shaped this university into what it is today. I got to be a part of the growth. But what came with that were some hard times. In reality, the hard times helped me appreciate the journey even more. I have some incredible memories from my time here and still keep up with my closest friends. We won championships, we set records, and we became best friends. But I got to learn so much along the way, and if it weren’t for that time of transition, I’m not sure I would’ve experienced that growth. I learned to appreciate all of the little things, and I learned to stay in the moment and to be grateful for those moments.
Who were your favorite professors?
I had several faves, but I’d say Trish Hodgson and Kent Johnson within my department. I really enjoyed all of my teachers in Kinesiology, but those two made me think on a different level. They challenged me to be better and pushed me to get the most out of myself. I’ll always be grateful for that. Outside of my major, I really enjoyed Matt Hearn (English/Lit), Alan Bradshaw (Physics), and Earl Lavender (Bible) for those same reasons. They were deep thinkers who made their subject areas relatable. They were willing to connect with their students and took the time to invest in me, even making the time to come to some games. They truly supported me as a student-athlete!
Where did you grow up?
We moved a couple of times when I was growing up, but when I was in the 6th grade, we moved to Smyrna, TN. That is my home. My family still lives there, and I am grateful to be able to see them often.
What do you do now?
I am in my 15th season as the head softball coach here at Lipscomb.
Tell us about your family:
I am married to Brian, Director of Operations for Lipscomb Baseball. We have been married for ten years, and we have a son, Porter, who turned three in August. Our life is crazy, but we love it.
FAST FINISH: (please answer as many or as few of the following as you wish)
- Favorite food: Mexican
- Favorite Bible scripture: Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
- Favorite sports team: In addition to my Bisons, the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs
- Pet peeve: People who do not give effort
- Person I most admire: My mom (she’s a saint) and my husband (he’s my rock and the most selfless person I know)
- Rather ride or drive? Depends on the day
- Dream vacation spot: We’ve already been once: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
- Early morning or late night person? Late night until Porter came along, lol
You can connect with Kristin on Twitter: @CoachKRyman and Instagram: @peckyeah