by Bailey Basham ('17)
Two Trevecca alumni were selected in recent months to serve the Nashville community in local municipal offices.
Avery Patton, class of 1987, was sworn in on September 6, 2018, as the chief deputy director of operations at the Juvenile County Clerk’s Office. Fellow alumni and former metro councilman Lawrence Hall, class of 1993, was appointed in October 2018 as director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods and Community Engagement.
Both men give credit to Trevecca for their foundation in leadership.
Patton, who grew up in the Cumberland View housing projects in North Nashville, also known as “Dodge City,” said going to Trevecca gave him the opportunity to be a part of a different story.
“Seeing a lot at a young age in my life, that wasn’t really positive, but going to Trevecca, I learned a different story,” he said. “After coming out of Trevecca, I wanted to get out and help the community in any way I could.”
For Hall, the experience at Trevecca was equally as formative.
Both Patton and Hall played sports throughout their college careers—Patton as a point guard on Trevecca’s basketball team, and Hall on the baseball team.
Hall said everything he learned about leadership, he learned out on the field and by spending time with one of his coaches, Dave Altopp.
“Seeing a person take interest in you in that way and also having a team to meet together on a regular basis, that’s something that I’ve always carried with me as I’ve worked through my career,” Hall said. “That made all of us better people, better students, better career professionals. Hall remembers well spending evenings with teammates at Altopp’s home, eating dinner with his family and talking about school, teamwork and what they all intended to do after graduation. He said seeing someone take such an interest in him and his friends is something he’ll never forget.
“Coach Altopp taught me how to be able to deal with failure and how to capitalize on it by turning it into positive energy and learning from those things,” Hall recalled. “He was a real mentor, and I really took that to heart. I remember that to this day. He could have said anything to make me feel good, but he was straight with me.”
For Patton, the experience was similar.
“Basketball is what really kept me afloat in life. One of my best friends who had so much confidence in me was Coach Frank Wilson,” Patton said. “He believed in me so much, and there’s no doubt about it in my mind—he is one of the people in my life that really put me on the right track and helped mold me as the man I am right now. I tell him that a lot. He’s a big part of who I am.”
“When I think back on goals and visions, at that age, I really didn’t have any,” Patton continued. “I had to distance myself from the environment I grew up in to find out what I wanted to be, and Coach Wilson made me believe that I could be anything I wanted to be.”
Already committed to another college and a Baptist, for Patton, ending up at Trevecca was a surprise.
“It’s so funny because I already had planned on going to another college, but one day, Coach Wilson happened to come to Glencliff High School,” Patton remembered. “He told me he would look out for me and make sure that I graduated, even if it took five years.
“He knew what he was dealing with a guy like me, and he kept me in summer school so I didn’t go back to that environment,” Patton remembered. “He made me feel like he knew what he had to do to make me successful. When I look back, that’s why I can give him a lot of praise for helping me be the man I am today.”
For Wilson, the time spent at Trevecca with Patton was just as memorable. Wilson said the two talked a couple weeks ago and made plans to see each other for lunch soon.
“He’s probably one of the best friends that I have today,” Wilson said regarding Patton. “I know if he has a need or concern, he’ll call me and we’ll talk, and I know if I had a need, he’d be here at my door in 30 minutes. I’m just so proud of him. I knew he would be successful. There was no doubt.”