Kevin Griffin, former women's basketball coach at Eastern Mennonite University, hugs Helen Ours, longtime fan, during a reception honoring his 13 years of service. Griffin resigned in July to pursue ministry with the Church of the Nazarene. (Photos by Andrew Strack)

Before heading to the ministry, basketball coach Kevin Griffin is honored by colleagues

Normally, Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) President Susan Schultz Huxman says she would have been upset to find out that head women’s basketball coach Kevin Griffin had resigned after 13 years.

“But when I found out that he was leaving to go to the ministry, I thought, ‘How can you argue with that?’” she said at a reception for Griffin last week at Yoder Arena.

Griffin resigned in July to accept a position as connections minister for the Philadelphia District Church of the Nazarene. He was offered the position by Pastor Kerry Willis, formerly of the First Church of the Nazarene in Harrisonburg, who was elected superintendent of the district in April.

Former men’s coach Kirby Dean with womens basketball coach and former teammate Kevin Griffin at the Aug. 22 farewell reception.

While at EMU, Griffin compiled a 230-111 record and was  honored four times as conference coach of the year. He coached 25 All-ODAC selections and eight first-teamers, including two-time ODAC Player of the Year and Jostens Trophy awardee Jess Rheinheimer.

EMU’s new women’s basketball coach Jenny Logan coached against Griffin while at ODAC rival Hollins University.

During the reception, Huxman thanked Griffin for his coaching ministry “on and off the court.”

“We appreciate your winning record, the winningest coach in the history of women’s basketball here at EMU, and we appreciate the fact that you have been ODAC Coach of the Year multiple times,” she said. “What I appreciate most of all, and one could see this and feel it, is the way in which you have coached our students to be winners on and off the court.”

Griffin was known for developing his players as athletes, but also ”intellectually, personally, spiritually and relationally,” she said.

Sandy Brownscombe, emeritus professor and former women’s basketball coach, talks about Kevin Griffin as a former student, fellow coach and good friend.

Also sharing memories at the farewell was Sandy Brownscombe, emeritus professor and women’s basketball coach before Griffin; Jim Smucker, vice president for student life; Dave King, director of athletics; and Kirby Dean, former men’s basketball coach and Griffin’s teammate on the Royals basketball team. Griffin graduated in 1993, one year after Dean.

When women’s coach Richard McElwee resigned in 2005, Dean was heading the Royals men’s program. He urged King, then the university’s new athletic director, to consider Griffin for the position.

At that time, Griffin was an assistant coach at Delsea High School in Franklinville, New Jersey, but had spent many years in various coaching positions, according to an EMU press release.

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