Tag Archives: Railsplitters

LMU Dances into Basketball season

16 Oct


Homecoming hit a fever pitch with Midnight Madness on Friday. It was a chance for the ‘Splitters Nation to get to know the 2011-2012 Lady Railsplitter and Railsplitter Basketball teams. Plus there were some great performances by the LMU Dance Team, Cheerleaders and Abe. We even crowned a new Homecoming Queen and King! Not to mention a halarious dizzy bat contest and a wicked simon says game. Oh what a night!


What’s Happening: ‘Splitters for Summitt

30 Aug

The LMU community shows its support for UT Lady Vol Coach Pat Summitt.

‘Splitters for Summitt

28 Aug

 The LMU community is nothing, if not supportive of our collegiate brethren. Following the April 16, 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech the LMU community came together and reached out in a number of ways.  So it came as no surprise to me that following Pat Summitt’s announcement that she had been diagnosed with dementia, that two LMU students came forward to organize a show of support on behalf of our University community. The students, Tiffany Roach and Amanda Manis, took to Facebook to coordinate a ‘Splitters for Summitt photo opportunity.  The event invite reads:

“As a fellow Tennessean, Pat Summitt has put monumental effort into women’s basketball and women’s athletics in general. As a coach of 37 years, she has won 8 NCAA National titles. She is also the winning-est coach in men’s and women’s basketball. Without this amazing woman, women’s basketball would not be what it is today. Thank you Pat Summitt.

So come and show that the ‘Spliiters support Summitt by wearing orange on Tuesday.”


Oklahoma! in Harrogate

27 Aug

Throughout the years some remarkable theater productions have been staged at the Duke Hall of Citizenship, the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum’s Arnold Auditorium or even in the dining hall. For years, faculty member Dr. John Irvine, now retired, sat in the director’s chair for the Railsplitters Playmakers Dinner Theatre.

For over 30 years group put on two productions a year. Casts have included faculty, staff, students and community members. Productions of plays such as Crimes of the Heart, the female version of The Odd Couple, Steel Magnolias, Bedroom Farce, Love Letters, The Mousetrap, The importance of Being Earnest, The Foreigner and You Can’t Take it With You came to life for all to enjoy. In 2006 the Bell County Chamber of Commerce recognized Irvine and the group with the Cultural Development Award for enriching the culture of the area.

However, a few years ago Dr. Irvine retired from the University and the Railsplitters Playmakers Dinner Theatre came to an end. It was not the end of plays at LMU. Long time technical director for the Railsplitters Playmakers Dinner Theatre Vaughn Schutz and his wife, Sara, stepped up and created the Railsplitter Playhouse. Since then, the Railsplittter Playhouse has presented Love Hurtz, The Curious Savage, The Nerd and You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.

This fall, the Railsplitter Playhouse is taking on their most ambitious production yet. Next week director Sara Schutz and musical director Candace Armstrong will be casting for Oklahoma! The Broadway favorite first premiered on the Great White Way in 1943 with and ran for an unprecedented 2,212 straight performances. The epic musical requires a large cast.

Auditions will be held September 1, 2 and 3. They will be held at the Sam and Sue Mars Performing Arts Center in the Duke Hall of Citizenship on LMU’s main campus in Harrogate, Tenn. The times are set for 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on September 1 and 2 and from 2 to 4 p.m. on September 3. They are open to ages 12 and up. Schutz and Armstrong will be casting for actors, singers and dancers, though not all cast members will need to do all there. No prior experience is necessary. The large scope of the production requires a strong commitment from everyone.

Prospective cast members should come to the auditions prepared to sing a short song, read from the script and learn a short dance. Accompaniment will be provided by Armstrong, so prospective cast members are asked to bring your music to your audition. Attendance is only required at one of the audition sessions. Call backs will take place on September 6 at 6:30 p.m. The cast will be set on September 6 and rehearsals start on September 7. Performance dates have been set for November 10, 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19.

For more information please contact Schutz by email at saravaughnschutz@gmail.com or phone at (865) 585-5377 or Armstrong by email at Candace.armstrong@lmunet.eduor phone at (423) 869-6449.

Boy of Summer No More

28 Jul

Here is a summer wake-up call if there ever was one. There are only 25 more days until undergraduate classes start at Lincoln Memorial University (LMU). Just this week we welcomed the first-year medical students at LMU-DeBusk College Osteopathic Medicine and next week the second-years will join them. Twenty-five more days! Students should be packing up and faculty should be dusting off their lesson plans. 

It’s a wake-up call like this that gets me thinking about the things I love about summer.  I love the heat. Not heat indices in the triple digits heat that we are currently experiencing heat, but I love the nice 75-85 degree heat that usually accompanies summer around LMU.  I love that we staff members have much of campus to ourselves over the summer. It is our time to bask in the beauty of our campus with activity at a slightly slower pace. I love watermelon, fresh berries and sweet peaches. And I love baseball.

Well actually, that is a lie. I really only tolerate baseball (sorry, I grew up in upstate NY and was raised on basketball and football), but I am getting to the real topic of this blog post. Summer is the time when baseball reigns supreme. It’s a time when all of us basketball and football fans have no choice but to tune in to the boys of summer.

Scot Shields

It was during the summer about four years ago when I got my first real taste of Major League Baseball and experienced a shift in my views on baseball, and it was because of Scot Shields.

I joined the University in 2005 and during the first year, was pleased to meet and interview one of our most distinguished alumni, professional baseball player Scot Shields. He had been invited to campus for LMU Baseball Legends night, celebrated at a basketball game. It marked the first time he had returned to LMU since becoming one of the best relief pitchers in Major League Baseball (MLB). He was coming off a season where he had led the American League in holds and he was just three years removed from the Los Angeles Angels’ 2002 World Series Championship.

Scot Shields signing autographs at LMU in Decemeber of 2005.

During that visit I was amazed at the openness Scot and his wife, Jaime, shared with the LMU community. In a special alumni meal served before the women’s basketball game, Scot and Jaime, who incidentally met at LMU where Jaime was a Lady Railsplitter Volleyball player, sat with alumni from their era and mingled with everyone at the dinner. It was apparent that Scot had fond memories of LMU and his classmates and was happy to be back.

LMU SID Rusty Peace interviews Scot Shields during Baseball Legends Night.

Between games, Scot signed autographs in the Hall of Fame Room. He was patient and spoke with everyone. He even took off his World Series ring off and let many of the fans try it on. He joked with some of the younger kids and shared stories from the “big leagues” with the fathers.  At the end of the visit, I had one thought: he is just like all the other LMU alumni I had encountered so far: nice, approachable and very fond of his alma mater. I knew from that visit on, I would follow Scot Shields’ career no matter if I worked at LMU or not.

Scot Shields greets fans before a game at the Cincinnati Reds ballpark.Later, I helped organize a LMU outing to see Scot play. It was this trip that changed the way I looked at baseball all together. Since Scot played for Angels who were based on the West Coast, finding a game that was within driving distance of the University and fit in everyone’s schedules was a challenge. Ultimately, we selected a game in Cincinnati, when the Angels visited the Reds. I called the Reds organization and was able to get a block of tickets. We recruited alumni, faculty, staff and students to go and we were off.  Arriving at the ball park early, we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss warm-ups. Scot was known for talking to fans during warm-ups and we weren’t disappointed. He came over and greeted our group and posed for pictures. Though we never got to see him play, the trip was a real highlight for everyone who went. For me, it changed the way I looked at baseball. To see the excitement of a live, major league baseball game in person was far superior to viewing what always seemed to be a slow game on T.V. But more than anything, seeing the players, not just Scot, but most of the players, connecting with the fans really changed my mind.

Scot Shields is pictured with some of his LMU classmates before a game in 2007.

LMU hosted a handful of these road trips to see Scot play during his career. As summer dawned this year it was sad to think the Scot Shields road trips were no more. You see, LMU’s very own boy of summer was no more. On March 18, 2011, following two injury-hindered seasons, Scot Shields hung up his glove. He retired a highly efficient and effective setup man who had spent much of the last decade bridging the gap for the Angels between starter (or middle reliever) to closer.

Upon his retirement, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said, “He evolved into the gold standard of what setup men are. He could’ve gone a lot of places and been a closer, but he was committed to this organization and this organization was committed to him.” Scioscia went on to say, “Scot accepted that role and became the best at it. He was about winning. If he had to take the ball in the seventh inning and pitch the ninth, he would have done it. Thirty years ago, he would have been getting two-plus, three-inning saves. That’s how good he was.”

Scot Shields made his major league debut on May 26, 2001. He spent his entire career with the Angels, a rare occurrence in this age of free agency.  That season in 2005 before he visited LMU, it was the first of four consecutive seasons he would lead the American League in holds.  He is the only former Railsplitter to ever play in or win a World Series title.

In summarizing his career with the Angels, he points to the Game 7 of the 2002 World Series as his most memorable moment in uniform, but he is also proud of the 2004 season when he and Francisco Rodriguez each boasted over 100 strikeouts in a season, a landmark achievement for bullpen mates.  Shields had a 46-44 record and 3.18 career ERA, averaging 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings. In 697 innings pitched, opponents posted only a .228 batting average and .335 slugging percentage.  Sports Illustrated named him Setup Man of the Decade and he is remembered fondly by Angels fans everywhere as one of the last remaining links to the ball club’s only World Series Championship.

As summer rolls on and the boys of summer keep taking the field, it is sad to think that Scot Shields will not be taking a mound somewhere, but it remains an honor to call him one of our own. Scot, I hope you are as proud to call yourself a Railsplitter as we are.

Scot Shields is pictured with the LMU group.


Let’s hear it for the Coach!

22 Jul

A quick history lesson on LMU Basketball. Though the program has been around since 1923 (basketball was played on this campus long before it was an organized program), LMU has only competed in the NCAA for the last 20 years. Our record books are lined with championships. A whole alphabet soup of championships including SMAC Champions, VSAC Champions, NAIA District Champions and TVAC Champions to name a few. But, since taking the NCAA plunge championships have been harder to come by. In fact, since joining the NCAA in 1991, the men’s basketball program has posted just seven winning seasons. Seems kind of low, doesn’t it? I mean we have a giant arena and basketball is our marquee sport. Seven winning seasons, that can’t be right, can it?

 Well actually, it isn’t entirely correct. Seven was the number of winning seasons posted since 1991 when Coach Josh Schertz was hired in 2009. He has since added two more winning seasons to that total. Just three years into his tenure he has added two winning seasons and it should be noted that his first season’s record was an even .500 year with 14 wins and 14 losses.

Clearly Schertz has turned the program around in a short amount of time, but the work is even more impressive if you consider two things. First, he inherited a team that had just eight wins the season before and just one win in South Atlantic Conference play. Second, the turnaround was as dynamic as it was quick. He took the program from winning less than 40 games in the five seasons before his arrival in Harrogate to winning 47 in the last two seasons. Last season, he took a program that had never been in the NCAA Tournament to the brink of hosting a regional as a No. 1 seed. LMU went from a team that had never been ranked (since joining the NCAA), to a perennial regional power, having been ranked in every Southeast Region poll in the last two seasons. Still not impressed? Okay, Schertz also guided the Railsplitters to their first-ever national ranking, culminating in a Top 5 Rank in February before finishing the season at No. 10.

Considering all of that, it should be no surprise that the basketball community has taken note. Coach Schertz had better start building a trophy case at home to hold all the hardware he has racked up in the last year. Just this week he was recognized as one of the Top 25 Non-Division I Head Coaches by collegeinsider.com. At 35 years old, he was the youngest coach on the list. He has also been named the Top Non-Division I Head Coach in the country under 40 years old by smallcollegehoops.com. He was voted the 2011 SAC Coach of the Year and earned NABC National Coach of the Month honors in January. Last season, Schertz was a finalist for the Clarence Gaines National Division II Coach of the Year Award.

Beyond wins and losses, Schertz and his Railsplitters have energized a community. The team is doing its part to fill one of the largest and nicest arenas in all of NCAA Division II. (One could argue that Tex Turner Arena is even better than some smaller Division I institutions.) Schertz has also taken an active role in our community. He was the commencement speaker at Leadership Claiborne this year and his team and coaches participated in Relay for Life.

A new day has dawned at LMU and Schertz, and his entire coaching staff, have set the bar high. The horizon is bright for next season. The Railsplitters return four starts for next year and seven of their top 10 scorers will be back.  Now, back to history class because surely Railsplitter Nation is witnessing history in the making!

Go Splitters!

Why do we Relay?

20 Jul

In a little over a month thousands will gather at the Harrogate City Park, circling the field for 24 hours. Because cancer never sleeps, neither will we.

The Claiborne County Relay for Life, set for August 26, is the culmination of a year’s worth of fundraising for most teams. It’s a time where we, as a community, reflect on how cancer has touched our lives. It gives us a chance to celebrate our survivors, memorialize our loved ones who have lost their battles with the disease and raise funds to further the fight. It is a time when the question “why do you Relay” is asked repeatedly. 

You’d be hard pressed to find someone on the LMU campus whose life hadn’t been touched by the disease. In the last year alone, cancer has claimed two of our own faculty members and a handful in our community remain locked in battle with the deadly disease. It’s the reason Lincoln Memorial University has chosen the American Cancer Society as one of the few causes it supports annually.

Judy Edds. She was a lot of things in her brave life. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, mentor, colleague, instructor, caretaker and nurse. In her career as a nurse she comforted the sick, mended the broken and was compassionate to all her patients. For her students, she was a great teacher who was always available for extra help. For those of us who were lucky enough to work alongside of her, she was a beacon of courage. Her passion for LMU and her students helped her fight the disease for years, yes years. She was in front of a classroom teaching less than a month before she ultimately lost her heroic battle. A battle she waged on many fronts. She visited Vanderbilt shortly before her death looking for hope in new treatments. In the end her body wasn’t as strong as her spirit, however her legacy lives on in the cherished memories we have and the bright students she taught. Why do we Relay? We Relay for Judy.


Wayne Wells. Looking through the lens of video camera, Wayne told stories every day. Standing in front of a classroom he gave his students the tools they needed to tell their own stories. He gave them the vision to see things from every angle and find the most interesting view to show. Wayne spent years honing his craft at LMU’s Sigmon Communications Center where he served as operations director. A call to teach sent him back to the classroom himself, as he earned graduate degrees that would qualify him to join the faculty. He was relatively new to the faculty when cancer struck, yet had already moved up to department head of the Broadcast Communications program. Like Judy, Wayne fought with all his might and continued to be dedicated to his students. He was a champion for his pupils, pushing them to take internships and gain experience in the field. He is remembered for his easy smile, sly sense of humor and warm personality. Why do we Relay? We Relay for Wayne.

Besides the University sponsorship of Relay for Life, LMU is always well represented at the event. Usually there are at least two teams from the University community that participate. The faculty, staff and undergraduate student team, The Relay Railsplitters were the first team in Claiborne County to raise over $1,000 this year. The team goal is to eclipse last year’s tally of $5,000. The J. Frank White Academy has traditionally fielded a team as well.

Why do we Relay? We Relay for Judy, Wayne and the entire LMU community.