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Where are they now? John Wild

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The start of the 2013-2014 basketball season for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons is only a few days away. Assistant coach John Wild points out that the fall preseason may be more of a challenge in terms of time to get things done than during the season because of the preparation necessary to get ready. Head coach Greg Brown and Wild are in their second season with the Lady Bisons. Wild found some time to talk with lipscombsports.com in a special version of “Where Are They Now?”

The Lady Bisons open the season with an exhibition game Monday night at Allen Arena against Freed-Hardeman at 6. What do you expect from the team?

“I think we have a chance to be pretty good. We have had the chance to recruit kids that we want to play within our system. Greg does such a good job of trying to get us to understand the type of kids we want to recruit.

“We want to recruit kids who can shoot the ball. I think we have kids who can shoot the ball. We want kids who have a relatively high basketball I.Q. and we have that. We want to recruit kids with a motor who are not only going to play hard, but that are going to cut hard and screen hard and defend hard. And I think we have kids who are skilled. 

“That’s exciting. The kids we have in this class fit those four areas. I think our team chemistry is really good. I think they understand what their roles are and they accept those roles. Sometimes accepting a role is tough. I think it is going to be fun team to watch.”

As a high school coach you won state championships on multiple classification levels and with both girls and boys teams. What made you decide to make the move to come to Lipscomb?

“I knew if I left the high school game it would have to be as close to a perfect situation as possible.

"I thought I had a very good situation at Murfreesboro Riverdale with a solid school system and financial stability. I felt like the administration was solid and supported me. We not only had good players, we had players with a work ethic. 

“This was a chance for me to come back to the place where I went to college. No.2, I didn’t have to uproot my family.

“I felt like I would be working for a quality coach and a quality person in Greg Brown. It was the chance to come in and help build a program.”

What sport did you play at Lipscomb? What years? Who were your coaches?

"From 1986-87 I was a student assistant coach under Don Meyer. I played in 87-88 and 88-89. In 1990 I did my student teaching.

"They recruited me a little my senior year when I was at Greater Atlanta Christian School. When I realized I wasn't going to be offered a scholarship I just decided to come to school at Lipscomb because I had a bunch of friends coming here.

"The spring of my sophomore year I finally realized I wanted to coach and teach. I walked over to Holman House and met with coach Meyer. I told him I wanted to go into education and coaching and I wanted to work with the basketball program in some capacity. I started out working summer camps and then became a student assistant coach.

"I had gone through the summer of 1987 thinking I was going to be a student coach again. The first day of practice I was over in a corner of the gym with John Hudy getting things ready for the start of practice. Coach Meyer came up to me and asked me how much time I had before I was going to graduate. I told him at least two years and probably an extra semester. He gave that famous grunt and said go talk to Chris Snoddy and get some practice gear and be back in five minutes.

"I think he felt like I could fill a role as a player. I was a back-up post kid.

"I was fine being a student assistant coach. I was working for one of the best teachers of basketball that I could have worked for. 

"It is the old adage you don't realize how special something it is until it is gone. When I started working with Keith Edwards at Friendship Christian in the 1990s that rear view mirror got larger the first couple of years I was coaching.

"I realized then that coach Meyer had really had an impact on me. You heard former players talk about it, but I don't think you ever really get a grasp on it until you are actually in the field. The three years I was with him I tried to be as much of a sponge as I could. But it wasn't until I got out and started coaching that I realized the impact he was going to have on me 25 to 30 years down the line."

What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb? 

"It should have been a win, but it was a loss to Belmont. We were 38-1 and ranked No. 1 in the NAIA. We lost to Belmont in McQuiddy and finished 38-2.

"It was in 1989. It was the night Joe Behling had 58 points. I will never forget what coach Meyer said at halftime. We were down a couple of points and Behling already had 29. The first thing coach Meyer said when he walked in the locker room was not to worry about it because Behling would never get 29 points in a half again And he did.

"It is odd that it is a loss that is my favorite memory. I still have my notebooks in my office. The other day I was looking through the notes from after that game. The first thing I wrote down was `even when they lose, they win'. It is what you take out of that loss and how you apply it to the game that is coming up next or to what is happening in your life that is important."

Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?

"At that time, besides my father, Jack, it was coach Meyer who had the greatest influence on me. Absolutely, as far as the lifetime principles he tried to instill in us as players.

"I think the way he taught the game, and the way he still teaches the game, is better suited for the girls game. The girls' game is a lot more structured. The fundamentals come into play more in the girls' game. I just felt like, when I did make the transition from boys to girls basketball in 1999, that what I learned from coach Meyer was going to pay great dividends.

"The style of play that he teaches has the ability to take the athletic ability out of the game more in the girls' game than in the guys' game. The guys' game is so athletic."

What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb?

"It would be hanging out in the dorm with my teammates, particularly during Christmas. Coach Meyer would bring us back early for practice. All of the churches would feed us. They were all so nice and opened their arms for us because of the great job coach Meyer did marketing the program.

"We would sometimes have two--a-days during Christmas break. But we would have seven or eight hours where we were by ourselves in the dorm. I remember all of the tennis ball wars we had. We would use all of the floors of High Rise.

"Philip Hutcheson, Wade Tomlinson and Marcus Bodie would all play. Philip used a trash can top as a shield to block invading tennis balls from me or Rob Brown or whoever it was.

"I remember the time we spent off the court with one another more than I remember the practices and the games. We would go to Atlanta to a Braves game on the weekend. We would go to the ACC basketball tournament. We would go to Burgess Falls in Cookeville and just hang out." 

What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?

"Coach Meyer instilled in me that it is not what you teach, it is what you emphasize. You can have all of the knowledge in the world on the subject of coaching basketball, but you have to take that and communicate it and emphasize it to your players.

"Another thing was planning and organizing. The way coach Meyer laid out our program for 12 months of the year gave me a lot of ideas on organizational structure not only for my basketball programs, but for my life in general and my family. There are principles that I try to relay to my kids today.

"Third, there were the lifetime principles - simple things like saying `please' and `thank you'. Everybody picked up trash. There was no pecking order. They were just good, true, solid ideas."

Who was your favorite professor? Why?

"I have two - Dr. Lynn Griffith and Dr. Robert Hooper.

"I wasn't the most structured, goal-oriented or visionary person as far as what I wanted to do with my life when I got to Lipscomb. Once I figured out that I wanted to coach and teach coach Griffith gave me some structure about which path to go on and what classes to take.

"I majored in P.E. and minored in history. I was certified to teach history.

"Dr. Hooper and his wife, Virginia, were a Dad and Mother away from home. It was a Pleasantville atmosphere when you were around them. I was in Sigma Chi Delta in my early days. Dr. Hooper was our sponsor. Their house was a place we could go and just relax. They gave me a home away from home.

"In class he tried to teach us some lifetime things too."

Tell us about your family.

"My wife's name is Susan. She is a guidance counselor at Marshall County High School in Lewisburg. There are four children, Slayton and Layne, who are both freshmen at Forrest High School in Chapel Hill. Kazdin is an eighth grade at North Middle School in Winchester. Kaley is an eighth grader at Forrest."

My email address is jwild@lipscomb.edu.