So the woman that I had the pleasure of interviewing this time is someone that is very important to me, as well as countless other people, Betty Wiseman. A little bit about Betty, she was first a student at Belmont University in 1965, then later became the associate professor of Health and Physical Education in 1966, and then the founder of Belmont Women’s basketball program as its legendary first coach. Over the next 16 years as a head coach she won over 240 games, had fourth births to the NCAA tournament, and changed the face of women’s basketball in the state of Tennessee. She has won countless awards for her work which include the Josten- Berenson Lifetime Achievement Award from the WBCA, was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2000, was named a Tennessee Sports Legend in 2007, and was honored as the OVC’s Thurston Banks Award recipient for distinguished academic service; and all of this on top of writing her book on her life’s work, Bounce the Balls and They Will Come: A Coach’s Passion for the Great Commission. I met Betty when I started playing basketball at Belmont and I had the pleasure of going on a missions trip with her to Rio de Janeiro last summer. Being around Betty is just a pleasure in itself, but being around her in her element, speaking about Jesus to people who don’t know Him, is a privilege. I am so inspired by Betty and her strength, passion, and love for people and I am so lucky that I have gotten to know her over the past four years. Here’s a little bit about her view on life…you’ll definitely want to read this one.
Interview #3: Betty Wiseman
Coffee or tea?
Hmm, I usually have one cup of coffee in the morning, but I’m not into coffee or tea, I’m into water!
Kindle or real book?
I prefer a real book, but I have a Kindle and that’s the easiest for me, so I read off a Kindle.
It took me forever to learn not to turn those pages and have the real feel of book, but I do love to have a book in my hand.
Train or plane?
Plane, but I do like to experience a train in other countries.
Dark chocolate or white chocolate?
Either, or! I like kind of a lighter chocolate.
Cat or dog?
What is your current state of mind?
What does your joy look like today?
Well my joy is always in the Lord, because this is the day that He has made and I rejoice and am glad in it.
What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
Ohh, wow! …I’m a country girl and I think its probably some kind of meat, vegetables, and cornbread combination. I love a good meat and three.
What color best describes you?
Probably, hmm.. some light shade of yellow, because its bright.
What is your favorite book and why?
Well, my favorite book is my Bible which is just a part of me. Another book that’s been really influential in my life is The Testament by John Grisham. I read that a long long time ago but it still resonates with me, it’s a part of a commitment to ministry and working in other countries; its just a great book. Another book by Chuck Swindoll, So, you Want to Be Like Christ?, it’s a great book for just evaluating where you are, a self evaluation for Christ-likeness.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a teacher and a coach.
If you had three wishes, what would they be?
I would wish for peace on earth.
I would wish that all people could have a relationship with Christ.
And a third wish… that I could impact somebody’s life, daily.
What is your definition of success?
Success… that in every season of my life, that I have been true to my calling and I have made a difference in the world. My seasons have been seasons of growing up, education, my season of teaching at Belmont, a season more toward ministry, and I’m in a season now, what I would call the fall season, where I am retired. The colors are changing, and some leaves are falling ha, and I love the fall, but I love every season. They have all been good to me. I am at peace that the winter season will be coming at some point, but I’m not looking ahead, I’m enjoying where I am because every day is a gift.
What is your biggest regret?
I really don’t have any regrets. I have made some mistakes along the way, but those mistakes have been a part of my growing and learning and maturing. Maybe one regret is when I was younger, teaching and coaching and being so consumed with my work early on, that I didn’t stop and smell the roses more.
What are you most afraid of?
I don’t really have any fears… I’m not afraid of growing old and I’m not afraid of dying, but I want to do it well. I want to grow old gracefully, with grace, still be effective, and that’s the way I want to die. So, I don’t know if I have any fears, but I’m always think about growing old gracefully and knowing where I’m going.
What are you most passionate about?
Christ. I’m passionate about my faith and wanting others to go deeper. I just love the Lord and I love sharing my faith and helping people find their way.
What does happiness mean?
Happiness? I’m basically I pretty happy person, but I am content with who I am. I’m most happy when I’m with people. Sometimes, happiness for me is just a good book and relaxing at home but at the same time I like to hang with friends and enjoy God’s world and the beauty that comes with that.
What is a struggle you’re facing right now?
The most recent struggle, and it still resonates somewhat even though I am at peace about it, is the transition from a very active, engaging career, to retirement. But its not a major struggle. I try not to be anxious about things and I am at peace where I am. I can be by myself, I can be with people. I’m not driven to pursue something just to be doing something. I want to look at opportunities that come my way as a God thing, I’m ok to wait on the Lord and see what’s next for me, daily.
If you’re looking back on your life from this point, what advice would you give yourself?
Probably relax a little earlier on in my career as a professor, a teacher, a coach. I was pretty consumed when I was doing it all, I was pretty driven. At one time it was about being ahead, being consumed, being driven, honestly it was about me, until I recognized that its not about me. It’s about the people around me, all the people I come in contact with every day, and ultimately its about my influence for somebody greater than myself: God.
What was the defining moment in your life?
Probably the moment that was the most defining for me was in 1992, my first overseas mission trip to South America with a group of women to work with women in churches. It was the the beginning of another call on my life to ministry and it was during that trip at a specific time and place when God said, ‘its not about you, Betty, its about me.’ It was when I came back from that trip, that everything from my teaching, after I had stopped coaching, that everything became ministry from then on. God gave me a different view of himself, myself, and my place in the world. He called me into the world, not just Belmont. As a result of that, He’s given me opportunities that I would have never dreamed of; the sports evangelism ministry came out of that, my passion for missions, my passion for sharing Christ, and connecting with people on a much deeper level because I had to go deeper myself.
Who/ what inspires you?
I’ve had a lot of people in my life that have influenced me. I grew up in the country on the farm. I loved the earth and I loved working and being a part of that environment. I came from a Christian home and my parents taught me the lessons of life: how to work hard, how to love people, how to respect people, and to give as opposed to receiving. My teachers inspired me, I had great teachers from elementary to college who inspired me. Dr. Gabhart who was the president then and who hired me, truly inspired me and was a influential mentor to me. Just people along the way that God has put in my life to encourage me, to look up to have inspired me. The world inspires me, I am intrigued by nature and how it speaks to me. I can go to the mountains, I can go to the beach, I can look out these windows, and be inspired by where I am and what I see. I used to sit in my office and watch that tree outside my window, I watched it be planted and grow, I watched it change through the seasons, get bare during the winter, green then yellow, and all the shapes. I’m inspired at home, sitting on my patio watching the sun come up and spread across the water and the lake by my house. I’m a very simple person and simple things inspire and encourage me.
What do you value in your deepest relationships?
Trust. Being able to trust somebody.
For people being able to see me and accept me for who I am, all my idiosyncrasies. What you see is what you get with me.
What are the 5 most beautiful thins in the world to you? Why?
- Newborn babies. The miracle of birth and new life.
- Just watching children. Wherever I am, I’m just looking at children. They’re just beautiful, just God’s little creatures.
- I’m a tree lover. I love shapes of trees. Over my bed is a huge picture of that big tree in Savannah and its just beautiful. Ohhh, I love sunsets, too. What I see from my patio: a lake and a fountain and houses, trees and birds. My patio is my favorite place in the world. Beautiful.
- I was on a sailing trip to the Bahamas and I lived on a sailboat all week with five other people, and evenings and morning times on that sailboat were some of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
- Being in a foreign country in the slums where people are ‘poor’. They have nothing, but their smiles and their faces, to me, are the most beautiful people in the world.
What is the greatest life lesson that you have learned so far?
That its not about me. In the whole scheme of things, I’m just a little dot in this world, a little grain of sand in the whole scheme of things. But that one little dot can make a difference.
What impact do you want to leave on the world?
That I made a difference where God put me, that I made a difference in people’s lives, that I impacted people for Christ, and that my life brought glory to God.