As Tennessee Temple University continues rebuilding its athletic program, two former standouts at bigger area schools have come aboard as graduate assistants. Both want to do ministry work and are set to begin TTU seminary studies.
Former University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball leader Ricky Taylor has joined Brac Brady's men's basketball staff. Three-time NAIA soccer national champion goalkeeper Leah Wilson from Lee University is helping Emmanuel Awotula with Lady Crusaders soccer.
"Ricky is going to be a phenomenal addition for us," Brady said of the Mocs' No. 6 all-time Division I scorer, with 1,225 career points. "He certainly brings credibility as a player, and he has a phenomenal personality and a passion for player development."
Taylor is running camps this summer in affiliation with SCORE International, the overseas sports ministry built by former Temple coach and athletic director Ron Bishop. Taylor, who is from Brownsville, Tenn., went on a SCORE trip to Costa Rica the summer before he began playing for UTC, and current Temple assistant Ezell Dodd was on that trip also.
"We stayed in touch, when he was at Lee [University] and now at Temple," said Taylor, who coached the Christian Heritage middle school girls' team last year. "I see myself as a coach, because I love basketball so dearly, but I also can see myself as a youth minister or pastor if God leads in that direction.
"I preach at every one of my camps that you're never too young and never too old to give your life to Christ, and that's going to be my message the rest of my life. I am very excited to be starting at the seminary," he added, looking ahead to potential master's of ministry, Biblical studies and divinity degrees.
Wilson, who grew up in East Brainerd and starred previously for Chattanooga Christian School, has a similar outlook on her new position.
"I see it as an opportunity to start something with my life that helps younger girls," she said. "I bring a lot of intensity and competitiveness from Lee but also spiritual values, mixing a love of soccer with a love of the Lord. I love speaking, encouraging and sharing."
Awotula said he has known Wilson "since she was a kid" from local youth leagues -- having refereed with her as well as some games she played -- "and I'm definitely excited about having her help me. She played for a very good program and understands the game, and her excitement about soccer increases my excitement."
Specifically, Awotula noted, Wilson can give the goalkeepers attention he felt he failed to provide last year.
Contact Ron Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6291.