In the past few months, there was a craze among media outlets and just people in general to make a “Mount Rushmore” of everything, whether sport, entertainment, profession or just about anything else you could think of.
The premise is fairly simple; you just have to come up with the four most prominent figures of the group of your choosing for a so-called Mount Rushmore of (fill in the blank). Lumination even took a stab at it with a Mount Rushmore of Lipscomb Professors.
Inspired by all the discussions of ranking current and historical notable figures, something I love to do, I decided to make a Mount Rushmore of Lipscomb Sports Figures.
There are a few rules I came up with to help narrow down the field of nominees:
1. No current athletes can make the final list of four people. Despite the great success of our current athletes, it would not be fair to include a player whose Lipscomb career is ongoing.
2. Current coaches are eligible for the list, but only if they have coached for five or more seasons.
3. Only one coach or athlete from a single sport is allowed on the final list of four. Otherwise, you could have a single sport taking up half of the spots.
Now, on to the list. The first spot should be obvious.
Don Meyer: Basketball coach, 1975-1999
The late, great Coach Don Meyer was not only one of the pillars of college sports at Lipscomb, but he was also integral to the college basketball community throughout the country.
Meyer’s team went 11-19 during his first season with the Bisons, and he never had another losing record during his time with the school. He amassed a record of 665-179 in his 24 seasons at Lipscomb.
Meyer’s teams were perennial contenders, making 13 NAIA appearances. The Bisons took home the NAIA national championship in the 1985-’86 season.
The Bisons also recorded two other semifinals appearances as well as two quarterfinals runs during Meyer’s tenure.
Basketball proved the hardest sport for me to make just one selection. Former All-Americans and the top two leading scorers in college basketball history, Philip Hutcheson and John Pierce, easily could have made the list.
For a more recent player, former Bisons Adnan Hodzic led the nation in field goal percentage on his way to being named an honorable mention All-American and the A-Sun MVP in 2010.
Whitney Kihnl: Softball pitcher, 2008-2012
Whitney Kihnl’s laundry list of accomplishments during her playing career goes on and on. She started off with a bang, winning the A-Sun Freshman of the Year award in 2009. She then followed up her outstanding freshman season with arguably the greatest individual season in Lipscomb softball history.
In her sophomore campaign, Kihnl won 33 games, was named the A-Sun Player and Pitcher of the Year and led the Lady Bisons to their first ever NCAA Regional. She also was named first team All-Conference and all NFCA Southeast Regional as well as third team NFCA All-American. During the season, she led the NCAA in ERA and led the team and the A-Sun in most pitching categories.
Kihnl’s junior and senior seasons did not quite reach the height of her sophomore year, but she did receive All-
Conference honors both years.
Jeff Forehand: Baseball coach, 2007-present
In 2008, the Bisons made their first appearance in the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament and pulled off a historic upset of the Georgia Bulldogs in the process. Since then, Coach Forehand has kept Lipscomb in the thick of the playoff hunt every year.
Perhaps most tellingly, seven players have been drafted in the MLB Amateur Draft during Forehand’s stint at Lipscomb. Pitchers Hunter Brothers, Chris Nunn, Josh Smith, Rex Brothers and John King, catcher Caleb Joseph and outfielder Casey Bond were all drafted between 2007 and now.
Rex Brothers and Caleb Joseph, both currently in the MLB, were also considered for the baseball spot in the final list. If I were to redo this process ten years from now, perhaps Brothers or Joseph will take over the baseball spot for themselves.
Chuck Ross: Lifelong Lipscomb superfan
I debated between numerous former athletes and coaches as to who deserved the final spot on this list, but no one individual stood out above the rest.
That is when it was suggested to me that I should make Chuck Ross the final face on the Mount Rushmore of Lipscomb Sports Figures. It was a brilliant idea, because for so long no one better represented Lipscomb sports better than the number one fan himself.
Ross attended more games, cheered on more athletes and brought joy to the faces of more fans than anyone else at Lipscomb, so of course he deserves a spot on the final list.
Photo courtesy of Lipscomb Athletics