by Dru Walters, Student Contributor
Like many Kentuckians, basketball for the ALC Eagles Men’s Coach, JR Hammond, is not just a sport – it is a way of life. In the midst of every rebound retrieved, every shot blocked, and every play called, Coach Hammond finds the epitome of what he sees as the keys to a successful life. He expounds on this view by saying, “Basketball and sports, in general, teach people the skills they need to succeed in all aspects of life. If you want to play, you have to be good, and if you want to be good, you have to work hard. I think that more things in life should follow the example set by sports and athletes.”
Students now know JR Hammond as their cool-headed Men’s Basketball Coach with a dry sense of humor, but there was a time that Coach Hammond wore the blue and white himself. Originally from Martin County, Kentucky, Coach Hammond graduated from ALC in 1996, which he insists is not so long ago. He says about his college experience, “When I first came here, I just came to play basketball. I didn’t really know what I was going to do with my life, but Alice Lloyd College molded me into who I am today. We won a lot of games, and we had such a great time on the court both in practice and during games. It was really a transformative experience.”
Due to the tremendous impact the college has had on his life, he considers himself a lifelong Eagle. On the banks of Caney Creek, he met his wife Heather, an Alice Lloyd College and June Buchanan alumna, and the two of them were married in 1995. They have two sons, Hunter and Parker, and one daughter, Isabella.
After completing a Physical Education degree at ALC, Coach Hammond and his wife returned to his hometown, where Coach Hammond taught in the public school system for thirteen years. However, when a job opened up as head coach of the Alice Lloyd College men’s team, Coach knew that the stars had aligned in a special way. He comments about this opportunity saying, “Heather is originally from Knott County and was interested in moving closer to home, and I knew the school and the basketball program so well….it just clicked. The good Lord led us in this direction and I’m very grateful for His guidance.”
During his tenure at ALC, Coach Hammond has held several positions such as serving as Assistant Dean of Students, Director of Security, Director of Housing, and most famously, the Head Men’s Basketball Coach. Not only does Coach serve his players and the loyal Eagle fans, he serves the student body from inside the classroom by teaching physical education and kinesiology classes.
A pillar of the community, Coach Hammond proves that the mission that Alice Lloyd had when she first settled on the banks of Caney Creek is still active in the 21st century. His commitment to the ALC mission has not gone unrecognized, both on campus and outside, during the 2015-2016 season, he was named KIAC Coach of the Year. The significance of sports and the character transforming power that honest self-discipline and friendly competition offer are the central tenets of Coach Hammond’s personal philosophy, but faith is what truly guides decision making in his life.
“Basketball is just a way for God to use me in reaching as many people as possible,” he says. “God calls us to use our abilities to our greatest potential for His kingdom. I have great passion and love for the sport, and believe me, I like to win, but it’s not just about beating the guy next to you. It’s about handling situations better, learning how to treat people better, learning that winning takes teamwork, and learning that you should develop your talents not just for yourself, but first and foremost for the glory of God.”