A Lifetime of IMPACT | Houghton Magazine

Some people are born with basketball in their veins. I’ve met a few of those people. They eat, sleep and breathe basketball. Lori Wynn ’92 was one of those people—but, when you talk to her former college coach, H. “Skip” Lord (or “Coach,” as most of us call him, whether he coached us or not), it’s clear that basketball, for Lori, was a key to something much, much greater.

Some people are born with basketball in their veins. I’ve met a few of those people. They eat, sleep and breathe basketball. Lori Wynn ’92 was one of those people—but, when you talk to her former college coach, H. “Skip” Lord (or “Coach,” as most of us call him, whether he coached us or not), it’s clear that basketball, for Lori, was a key to something much, much greater.

After a lifetime dedicated to coaching collegiate women’s basketball, Lori Wynn lost her battle with ovarian cancer in April of 2020, only a few short hours after being (virtually) inducted into the Houghton College Athletics Hall of Honor.

Lori left behind a legacy in the lives of the hundreds of young women she coached throughout her career, and she’s leaving behind a legacy through Houghton to make sure women can be a part of the Houghton Women’s Basketball family for years to come.

“Lori epitomized the Houghton Women’s Basketball family,” recalls Coach Lord. “I remember leading a mission trip to the Czech Republic that included both current players and alumni. Lori, as an alumna, came along. It was clear that, regardless of what year you graduated, you were part of the same family.”

Coach first met Lori on a recruiting trip, hoping to encourage her to come to Houghton to play basketball. It wasn’t until after competing against Houghton while playing for Geneva College that Lori decided Houghton was the right place for her. It was the interactions with that family-team that persuaded Lori to transfer. Over the next thirty-odd years, Lori and Coach would remain colleagues and friends.

Lori coached at multiple schools during her career and even had teams compete against Houghton. She was never too far from the Houghton family, however, and often returned to campus in the summers to coach at basketball camp. Living not far from some of Coach Lord’s family, she could often be found on a run with Coach during his family visits.

Coach remembers Lori as a dedicated athlete, driven, focused and committed not only to her personal development but to the development of her team. Lori was never satisfied with “almost” and was both loved and respected by her teammates.

Coaches often lead like they play, and it is certain that Lori instilled in her players a strong sense of hard work and dedication while keeping them focused on what matters most in life: relationships with others and relationships with their Savior.

As Coach Lord transitioned from working as a coach to full-time athletic director and then to his current role as National Director of Athletics Engagement in the Office of Advancement, Lori was going through transitions of her own. In 2016, Lori was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and the challenges associated with that led to her stepping down from her coaching position after the 2018-2019 basketball season.

Although her health was challenging, Lori continued to run, and it was on one of these runs that Coach shared with Lori about his new position. He mentioned that one of his roles was to help those who have a passion for what Houghton does to leave a lasting legacy to benefit future generations of students. Lori realized that, even as she continued to pray with great faith for healing, it was time to put her estate in order.

Lori’s dedication to Houghton’s intentionally Christian, academically rigorous athletics program inspired her to give back. That inspiration led to the creation of the Women’s Basketball Endowment. The endowment can’t support the entire Women’s Basketball program, but the funds generated are set aside as above-and-beyond funding, creating a situation in which a coach can do the “little extras” that make a program truly special – things like new uniforms, specialized training programs or team trips.

Lori’s endowment fund is the gift that keeps giving, not just because endowed funds grow over time when they are wisely stewarded, but also because they open a door for others to contribute. Since Lori’s passing in April, colleagues, friends and former teammates have all added to the fund in Lori’s memory, growing the impact of her legacy. That isn’t the only way Lori’s legacy is growing. Lori’s dedication and generosity inspired her mother, Judy Wynn, to also get involved. Judy’s passion isn’t the Women’s Basketball team, however; Judy is using her estate to create an endowed scholarship fund providing scholarships for first-generation college students.

The Houghton Women’s Basketball family is drawing a little closer to each other these days. Some of Lori’s teammates have reached out to Judy, supporting her through her first Mother’s Day without Lori. Some gathered in August, along with Coach Lord, for a Celebration of Life ceremony. In a moment when we feel so distant and cut off from one another, the Houghton Women’s Basketball family is doing its part in making sure others aren’t alone.

“I’m always amazed at the students,” says Coach Lord, “and the more complete adults they become. Lori’s story is a sad one, but it’s also encouraging. I’m encouraged by Lori’s courage, by Judy’s courage, by the peace and bravery with which they’ve faced their situations, with the generosity with which they’re looking out for the rest of us.”

Looking out for others – it’s a trait of a great leader, a servant-leader. It’s the way Lori led as a student athlete, as a coach and now through her legacy.