This month we are highlighting scholar athletes; those men and women who are a force on their respective teams and in the classroom. Our first scholar athlete is an alum and an educator with a purpose—seeing his team learn how to serve Christ and how to relate their belief in Christ to others around them. Coach Rocky Lamar achieved his 700th career win at the helm of the Pioneers men’s basketball team versus Grand View University Feb. 27. The win gave him his 13th conference title (3-way tie with William Penn & Peru State).The NAIA Hall of Fame inductee has been head coach since 1986 and has lead the Pioneers to the NAIA national tournament 17 times.
Did you know that Lamar graduated from MidAmerica in 1976 with a degree in physical education? He played point guard for the Pioneers under Head Coach Ron Hill. And Lamar still holds the MNU record for free throw percentage and assists per game.
Upon graduation he spent eight years teaching and coaching at two high schools in Iowa before taking his position at MNU. Now in addition to his work at MNU, Lamar spends time every spring in Arizona at Native America Christian Academy taking members of his team to conduct basketball camp for the academy students.
Coach Lamar also conducts Fundamentally Driven basketball camps for boys and girls each summer. Now in its 31st year, the camp held at MNU’s Cook Center, has educated approximately 15,000 youth in basketball fundamentals and endurance for life’s challenges.
Suffice it to say, Lamar is an educator who knows how to coach players to win. Lamar has coached 25 NAIA All-America honorees and numerous NAIA scholar athletes.
Lamar’s Pioneer career highlights include:
Finally, Lamar states his philosophy simply.
“I want my players to want to win, but it is much more important to me that they find Christ’s will in their lives and that they end their playing career with a degree,” he says. “College basketball is just four years of their lives. I hope that we impact their live for many years after those four. If we have not stressed the important things in life, then even if we win 100 games while they are here, we still have not won. So having a relationship with Christ, and then having a college degree, are the most important things that I want each young man to take with them from MNU.”
Coach Lamar and his wife of 41 years, Dr. Jo (Stark, ’77, MEd ’91) Lamar, professor of education at MNU, have two children and three grandchildren.
MNU closed the regular season 23-7 (17-5 Heart). The Pioneers are the #1 seed in the conference tournament and will face the winner of Missouri Valley/Culver-Stockton on Wednesday, Mar. 2 at 7 p.m., at home.
Credit: Thanks to mnusports.com and Chad Jenkins, sports information director, for assisting with this article!