There are few faces in the Lipscomb Athletic Department that could accurately be described as “Lipscomb Legends”. This can mean a lot of things, but in a place like Lipscomb, the term “legend” goes far beyond coaching records and championships. There are people who have helped make our athletic department what it is today. God-fearing men and women who are passionate and excellent in their field, but work for a greater purpose than championship rings. One of these men is Associate Athletic Director, Frank Bennett.
Frank Bennett bleeds purple through and through. When asked how long he had been at Lipscomb, he replied, “That’s a loaded question! The most you could say is, I started here in kindergarten in 1956 and never left. In 1980 is when I started coaching women’s basketball [at the university] and teaching math and computer science education. Before we went Division 1, coaches were also teachers here.”
Coach Bennett went on to coach the Lipscomb women’s basketball team for 32 years, until moving in to the Associate Athletic Director position in 2013. During his time as a coach, he had a .582 winning percentage, which ranked him 29th in the NCAA at the time out of all active Division 1 coaches in the country. His resume also includes a spot in the NAIA Hall of Fame, 2 NAIA National Coach of the Year awards, 3 conference Coach of the Year awards, a Tennessee Sportswriters Association Coach of the Year award, and, a Division 1 Independent Coach of the Year award.
These honors and awards showcase his success in his sport, but they only give a small glimpse of the impact that he has had on Lipscomb Athletics. When he was a coach, he says that he tried to speak Christ into the lives that he coached wherever he could, through example and by investing in the players as people- trying to develop each individual as a whole person.
In fact, his original coaching philosophy was from Colossians 3:17,
“Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do everything for the Lord.”
To go along with his coaching philosophy, Coach Bennett developed six Biblical foundations for the program: glory to God, humility, unity, team attitude, servant leadership, and relationships based on Biblical principles (go directly to the person if you have a problem, etc.). Over time, the staff developed numerous Scriptures that went with each principle and it became something that they would focus on as a team and give to recruits, as well. From helping players through major life crises to simply directing their minds toward Jesus with a daily Bible verse text, Coach Bennett intentionally built the program around the Lord.
Today, he plays a different role as the Associate Athletic Director. His goal, however is still the same. Coach Bennett now connects with players and coaches throughout the athletic department and seeks to be a source of encouragement to all people. He also has a huge role in many formative programs in the athletic department including the drug and alcohol training, sexual assault training, and the Habitudes program. He prays for multiple athletes through the 555 Prayer Card campaign and now leads a men’s coaches Bible study one morning a week. He is a primary source of wisdom and counsel for many coaches and staff. Outside of athletics, he also shepherds the Otter Creek Church of Christ as one of the elders.
Personally, when asked how he spends time focusing on his own Spiritual growth, Coach Bennett emphasized the importance of spending time in the Word. Since 1986, he has tried to read through the entire Bible every year.
“I think that spending time in the Word is particularly important in the morning. It’s important to take the time to arm yourself to start your day. I pray the Spiritual armor for myself at the start of days.”
When speaking to Coach Bennett, one amazing aspect of his character is his humility and inability to speak of his own accomplishments. However, anyone who knows him knows of the impact that he has had on Lipscomb and on countless players. The depth of his love for the people around him and for the Spiritual well-being of the athletic department is evident. He is a “Lipscomb Legend” because of the way he has allowed the Lord to use him in his roles here. At the end of the interview, his word of advice for Lipscomb athletes was this:
“Whatever you do, try to do it with all your heart. You may not see the value at the time, whether it’s tough conditioning or there are subjects or classes you take that aren’t necessarily interesting or fun, the best way to put yourself in a position to advance in anything you’re doing is to do a good job where you are now. If you’ve got a job you don’t like, try to do it the best you can. That way, you set yourself up to where it might be noticed and you get a much better opportunity. I would also advise athletes to get the most out of each practice and get the most out of the time with your teammates. The main thing you are going to remember after your career is over is the time with your teammates; whether it’s traveling or at meals, you are forming lifelong friendships.”
Written by Alex Newby, Lipscomb Athletics Spiritual Formation
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