Athletic Director Lonn Reisman set to be lone inductee into Tarleton 2019 Athletic Hall of Fame after 30 years

Francisco Castro, Contributor

Photo courtesy of Tarleton Athletics
Following 30 years of serving and representing the Tarleton State University Athletic family, 30 years of seeing great athletes become greater citizens, 30 years of upholding his philosophy of Team, Family, Believe, former head basketball coach and current Athletic Director, Lonn Reisman will be inducted into the Tarleton Athletic Hall of Fame as the lone inductee for the Class of 2019. 

“I think it is the greatest honor of my coaching career,” said Reisman. “To get into the Hall of Fame is special.” 

Reisman describes the Hall of Fame induction as the ultimate achievement that anyone, be it a student athlete or a coach, can achieve. 

Despite the spotlight being on him, Reisman is quick to add that everything he has accomplished was not solely his own doing.

“Even though I’m going in the Hall of Fame, you’ve got to look at all the student athletes and all my assistant coaches,” Reisman said. “All my student assistance managers, the Tarleton community, the Stephenville community, people who backed this program, who helped build this program. They’re all a piece of this when I go into the Hall of Fame.

“It’s just not about Lonn Reisman. It is about everyone that helped contribute to this (program). Everybody has a piece of this and I wish everyone could go in with me. A lot of these people are responsible for why I’m (being inducted) in the hall of fame.” 

A press release from Tarleton Sports Media honors Reisman as being the lone inductee in the Class of 2019 Hall of Fame. 

The release also carries the words of Chairman of the Tarleton Athletics Hall of Fame Dr. Lamar Johanson who, per the release, believes that “one would be hard pressed to find anything that has brought greater recognition and positive publicity to Tarleton State University than Coach Reisman’s record and the success of his teams.” 

“Dr. Johanson is a very special gentleman who probably has seen almost every basketball game that I ever coached,” Reisman said. “He was another (individual) responsible for me coming to Tarleton State University to be the head basketball coach. And to have that kind of compliment form that gentleman who have been here (since) the early sixties to watch all of the games before I came here. Those comments are some of the greatest comments…It’s just a great honor to have someone like that make some comments like that about the program and what I meant to Tarleton Basketball and to Tarleton State. Really nice comments from him and I appreciate his feelings.”

Reisman began his time as a member of the Tarleton Family when former Tarleton president Dr. Barry B. Thompson brought Reisman to Tarleton with hope that Reisman would build up the Basketball program. 

According to Reisman, before becoming head coach the Tarleton Basketball team initially had, “one winning season in 27 years. I don’t know if I knew that when I took the job back in those days but I just felt like this was a special place. There were special people here when I interviewed for the job. They challenged me in the interview. ‘Could I turn this basketball program around?’ I just felt like this was a sleeping giant that could really become something special. I don’t know what happened in it before then, something told me that, ‘Lonn, you come in here and you can make something special out of this basketball program’ and we did. 

“Recruiting became a priority. I brought a lot of players in that first year cause I needed to find the right players that believed in my philosophy of basketball. With the blessings of God, I did find those people. And that first year, we won 18 games, lost 11, won the TIAA championships, went to the district nine playoffs for the first time. And that kind of set the tone, everybody’s looking at me like ‘wow, how did we do this in one year?’ I was very fortunate to find the right student athletes, the right players that believed in what I was trying to build here and they set the tone for the future of the program.”

Rebuilding the program to achieve so much in his first year, as well as to achieve even more during his 30 years as head coach, was not something that happened overnight. According to Reisman, it took many long nights and a lot of effort to train his teams to be able to move as such on the court. 

Figuratively speaking, Reisman mentions how it took “a lot of blood, sweat and tears…(and) a tremendous amount of energy to turn this program into what it is today.”

“I want to emphasize, I did not do that alone,” Reisman explains. “It took a lot of people on my staff, my assistant coaches. People that were a part of this program that were working to help build it. They’re all a part of the success that I’ve had. It is not a one-person show.”

Reisman also keys in on how the student body has also played a role in helping his teams succeed. 

“Our student body has been tremendously supportive of this basketball program,” Reisman said. “They have been instrumental in our record at home. Our record at home is phenomenal. I don’t know if anyone can equal it all anywhere around the country. I think since the early nineties we won 90 percent of our games at home and I give that credit to the Stephenville community, the Tarleton community (and) our student body.”

While it may be easy to look at the accomplishments Reisman has earned during the season and on the court, one cannot overlook the accomplishments he has earned off season and off the court. To be precise, the accomplishment of helping his student athletes succeed in the ‘student’ portion of their title. While ensuring his teams put all their effort on the court, Reisman has never failed in ensuring they put the same effort in the classroom. 

The press release also makes note of such accomplishments, highlighting his success in, “coaching a two-time Lone Star Conference Academic Player of the Year, three LSC scholar-athlete winners and nine players on the LSC academic all-conference team.” 

From this effort, many of his players have been able to graduate from Tarleton and have successful careers. 

“I’ve got players that are lawyers, I have players that are doctors, I have players that are accountants” recalls Reisman, “Many of them are schoolteachers and coaches. Dentist, U.S. Marshals, a lot of them are police officers in the big cities. A lot of them play professionally over in Europe.” 

Reisman’s efforts and support has played a key role in helping his student athletes succeed in the classroom and become great citizens. 

While Reisman may have stepped down as head coach of the basketball team, he carries a belief that they will still become as successful with his son Chris Reisman leading them. 

“I think the basketball team is in great hands with coach Chris Reisman taking it over,” Reisman said. “He’s been here for 20 years so he knows the program.” 

At the end of the day, Lonn Reisman does not intend to slow down. He intends to utilize the same energy from his days as head coach to ensure that all the athletic teams become successful. 

“As the athletic director I want to see all the programs aspire to compete for national championships,” Reisman state. “I want every team here to be successful, I want every team to make sure that their student athletes are graduating. I want to make sure that we are teaching great life skills to all of our student athletes so they can be successful when they leave Tarleton and become great alumni for this institution.”