For UA senior Justin Lomax, college has been a time for new challenges, building connections, and personal growth.
Though Lomax said originally he had no plans on leaving his hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, for Tuscaloosa, Alabama, he was ready to make his home at The University of Alabama after taking a campus tour his senior year of high school.
“I just fell in love with the people, the campus, the culture and the hospitality,” Lomax said. “I was really fortunate to find a good community here.”
Since arriving in the Fall 2013, Lomax has found opportunities and communities not only on the University’s campus, but also in Tuscaloosa and Northport.
After playing soccer for all of his youth and high school years, Lomax said he searched for a way to fill the soccer void in college.
“[Soccer] is just something I’m super passionate about and when I got to school, I did intramurals but it wasn’t the same competitiveness,” Lomax said. “So I decided that if playing wasn’t going to fulfill the void, maybe coaching would.”
Lomax spends his Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings coaching girls between the ages of eight and nine for the Tuscaloosa Parks and Recreation Authority.
“Coaching is something completely new to me, it was like a new challenge but within soccer,” Lomax said. “I’ve been with the same team for a year and a half now and seeing those kids grow up, and not just the girls that I coach but their siblings, has been great.”
For Lomax, who is on the pre-med track, he said coaching has reconnected him to soccer and provided him with a stress outlet.
“As a pre-med major, it becomes stressful and exhausting at times to spend time around people who are all preoccupied with the same worries and challenges as you,” Lomax said. “I love coaching soccer because for at least a few hours a week I spend time with my team whose biggest concern is seeing a new movie or wondering why I — a boy — have leg hair and they do not.”
Aside from the new challenges that come with coaching soccer, Lomax said he has found a community and built connections with faculty and staff at UA.
“Someone who has been really important to me is Dr. Ryan Earley in the biology department,” Lomax said. “I was looking for some research to do and time after time I’d ask about interesting people in the biology department and his name kept coming up.”