Story by Blake Sandlin, Contributing writer
Head coach of the Murray State rifle team, Alan Lollar, is heading into his ninth season coaching the Racers. In 2015, he was named the OVC Coach of the Year, but growing up, Lollar never expected he would be involved with the sport of rifle.
Lollar grew up in the small town of Vernon, Alabama. Growing up, he knew nothing about the sport. He attended Mississippi State University and was involved as a student athletic trainer.
In 1992, after graduating, Lollar got a job at Murray State as the athletic trainer. Working around the rifle program as a trainer is what got him interested in the sport.
“I started learning about it by learning about the specific injuries the shooters had, because I had to learn a new sport and what they had to do to play their sport,” Lollar said. “That gave me an idea of what went into it, and I gained a lot of respect for them and the work they put in.”
As the years went on, Lollar maintained his involvement with the program, helping to maintain the shooting range and assisting the coaches whenever he could. In 2007, former rifle Head Coach Morgan Hicks left Murray State to take a job with the University of Nebraska, leaving a vacancy in the head coaching position.
Hick’s departure so late in the offseason left the team unprepared and without a coach. With little time to conduct a search for a new coach before the season began, Lollar was put in charge of directing the program temporarily until such a search could be completed.
After the search for the new head coach was drawing to an end, Lollar was contacted about taking the head coaching job full time. He accepted the position and became the head coach of the Murray State rifle team in 2007.
Nine seasons, two OVC championships, and three Coach of the Year honors later, Lollar appears to have adjusted well. He credits his success to the former rifle coaches at Murray, as well as numerous other coaches from around the country.
“When I had questions, they would answer them, even when I wasn’t coaching at the time,” Lollar said. “A lot of the other coaches around the country spent a lot of time answering questions because I was just interested in the sport.”
Lollar said all of this knowledge that he gained along the way while simply assisting with the rifle team has helped him acquire a workable knowledge of the sport that he never expected to use.
Coaching rifle at the collegiate level, according to Lollar, requires a lot of mental concentration. He says by the time the athletes get to this level, they know how to shoot. The main role that comes with coaching rifle is identifying how the shooters are plateaued, and helping them reach their full potential. He says that being able to keep his team focused in big moments is the biggest thing.
After being introduced to the sport by ex-Racer Coach Elvis Green and being involved with the program for so long, Lollar has been exposed to a lot, yet he says he always tries to keep one thing in mind when coaching his team.
“The biggest thing I keep in mind every day is that coaching is teaching, and you have not taught until they have learned,” Lollar said.
He said he has come to understand that everyone learns differently, and understanding the specific ways that each of his athletes retain knowledge has served him well over his career.