Coach Spotlight: Athletic trainer, teacher, coach pushes team toward conference championship

Kyra Ledbetter
Staff writer

 

When told that he would be featured in the spotlight he said simply that he didn’t want it.

With his fifth year as head coach of the Racer rifle team coming to a close, after winning OVC Coach of the Year and after helping his team fight its way into its second consecutive NCAA tournament, Alan Lollar does not want the spotlight.

Instead, Lollar spoke almost exclusively of his shooters, what he’s learned from them and his path toward a job he so clearly loves.

Though his coaching position is one he wouldn’t trade or compromise now, it was not one that he initially thought he’d be taking.

“I graduated from Mississippi State in 1980,” Lollar said. “I’ve been an athletic trainer ever since. I worked at the University of Richmond and Ole Miss before coming here. I got my master’s degree at Murray State. In 1992 when I came back as a full time assistant athletic trainer I met the (rifle) coach, Elvis Green, and started helping him. He started teaching me about the sport.”

Though he was uninitiated with the sport when first introduced to the Racer rifle team, Lollar spent several years before becoming head coach cultivating relationships with other coaches and learning from Green.

“The first big thing I had to do with rifle was the first year we hosted the championships after I came back,” Lollar said. “Coach Green was the tournament director for that championship and trying to do that and coach the team was a lot. After that championship we talked and the next time we hosted I was the tournament director so he could focus on coaching the team. That’s how I got to know the other coaches around the country and how I started to learn the sport and stay a lot closer to it.”

Regardless of his interest, Lollar had a lot to learn about how to interact with his shooters so the work he gets out of them is consistently their best.

“It’s like any time you’re dealing with people,” Lollar said. “It’s about learning to handle individuals in different ways that help get the best out of them. I’ve always liked the definition of leadership that it’s getting people to do what they don’t want to do. That’s a lot of coaching, too. It’s getting them to do what they need to do to get better and trying to help them to believe in themselves.”

As far as senior shooter Ashley Rose is concerned, he’s been successful.

“He really tailors his coaching style to the individual and the level you’re shooting at,” Rose said. “I think growth for our team is a two way street. He’s taught us how to be mentally tough and has pushed us in that aspect of shooting, but we’ve pushed him to learn more about how to help us.

“He’s taught me how to communicate what I need on the line to him and that’s one place that I really struggled coming in. It’s not that I didn’t know how to communicate, he just helped me to break down what I was saying, which helped me understand the problems I was having.”

Though Lollar’s coaching technique has taken time to evolve, Rose feels that his willingness to learn and listen to his shooters has helped the team, including Lollar, to improve.

“Starting out it was kind of rough,” Rose said. “I got here during his first year as official head coach so he was still learning. He definitely struggled at first, but he worked hard to learn more about our sport, how we think and the things that we need. I think he’s definitely grown as a coach and grown the team as a whole.”

In turn, the team has impacted Lollar, giving him a rich insight into not just the sport, but what it takes to be the kind of shooter he has been so passionate in coaching.

“I want people to understand the commitment, desire and work that our shooters put into what they do,” Lollar said. “I think a lot of people equate it to recreational shooting. There’s nothing recreational about what we do. They train just as hard as anybody else does they just do it in a different way. It’s not running and jumping it’s staying still and being very precise and it’s handling things in a good mental and emotional way that’s at a level that amazes me at times.”

Contact Ledbetter.