Goodbye is not always forever. Coach Randy Lambert is saying goodbye to coaching Maryville College basketball and saying hello to family.
Coach Lambert has been the Maryville College basketball coach for 39 years. Before coaching he was a player for the Maryville College Basketball team and graduated in 1976. Lambert said, “Maryville is my home.”
He has so many memories here and has lived here most of his life. His favorite memory from coaching is, “all the young men and women I’ve had the chance to spend these college years with.”
The players of the Maryville College basketball team feel the same way. Dante Hoppa, a senior here at MC, has been playing basketball for all four of his years. “Coach is very energetic. He brings the energy to games and practice! I learned a lot from him, and what he has done with this college through this program,” said Hoppa.
Whether you see Lambert walking around campus, pacing on the sideline, kneeling and hoping his player will make the shot, or even hearing his voice on the other side of the gym during the game, Lambert is someone who will not be forgotten.
“[Lambert] Taught me that I got to bounce back. Every day is a new opportunity,” said Calvin Songster, a MC senior and basketball player.
Lambert truly believes in his players both on and off the court. As a coach, Lambert knew what he was doing. Emier Bowman, an MC senior, said “He helped me on and off the court … he made me put the right amount of time into my school work and the gym, so I can do better.” Lambert is a prime example of doing good on the largest possible scale.
Maryville College has grown in many ways over the years, especially within sports. This successful program was not always like this.
“It’s fun to see the development from where we were to where we are,” said Lambert. The growth of the program had a lot to do with Lambert’s willingness to sacrifice things in his life. Between practices and games, he sacrificed a lot of family time. To him, the basketball team was like another family.
The players get a lot out of Lambert’s coaching as well. “Coach has helped me grow as a player and as a man,” said Kaleb Estes, another senior here at MC. The players not only learn from him but grow with him. Lambert is not the same person he was when he started here either.
Being the Maryville College basketball coach for so many years, Lambert explained, “It has provided me with an experience that I will remember for a lifetime.” Hoppa, Estes, Songster, and Bowman all agree he helped turn them into the men they are today.
Even though Lambert is saddened by this event, he is excited to embark on the journey ahead with his family that he is finally getting back by retiring this year.
“I am looking forward to being able to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas with my family, being a basketball coach, the season falls right along in that time … I ain’t gonna be gone forever,” said Lambert. This is his home—a place he could never leave.
The celebration of Lambert’s retirement on Feb. 9 was a great place to be. Former players, alumni and current students came to celebrate. The gym bleachers were filled from side to side. The team unfo-
rtunately met with a disappointing loss today, but the team is still very proud of their coach. Lambert is proud of them too, “I couldn’t have selected a better group to finish out my career with.”
Lambert enjoys “the grind of every season.” Even though he planned to retire last year he definitely wanted to ride it out with this senior class. “I have been coaching them for four years,” said Lambert. Even though his career as the Maryville College basketball coach is coming to an end, his victories will still reign high throughout the years.
Some parting words from Lambert: “I want to say thank you to everyone on this campus. Being a coach, you work with the administration, faculty and all other staff members. They have all been very supportive in everything I have tried to do here. The people on this campus are what makes it special, and I’m glad I was a small part of it over the last 39 years. I consider all of them family. I will not be a stranger, I will still be around, I am excited to see how Maryville College will develop and prosper in the future.”