ESNL Alumni Gather at Dr. Mike Greenwood’s Celebration of Life Service

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October 5, 2019, College Station, TX

A number of current and former ESNL students gathered in College Station, TX to pay respects to Dr. Mike Greenwood at a Celebration of Life Service.  Many other ESNL alumni and colleagues shared their memories and expressed their gratitude for the impact he made on their lives by sending letters and posting comments on the ESNL and ISSN Facebook pages.  Dr. Ron Rainwater from Hardin Simmons University read Dr. Greenood’s eulogy and Dr. Rick Kreider offered the comments below. This was followed by a number of other friends, students, and colleagues sharing their favorite “Mike” stories and a reception.  The ESNL is thankful for all of the contributions Dr. Greenwood made over the years and passes their deepest condolences to Dr. Lori Greenwood, Bryson Greenwood, and the Greenwood family.

Memories of Dr. Mike Greenwood

Howdy, and thank you for being here to honor and celebrate the life of Dr. Mike Greenwood. 

I had the privilege to serve as Mike’s colleague and friend over the last 20 or so years.  I first met Mike at the 1998 National Strength and Conditioning Association Annual meeting in Nashville, TN.  I was a Professor at the University of Memphis and was asked to do a talk on creatine supplementation.  After I spoke, Mike came to the podium to introduce himself. He said he was a faculty member at Arkansas State University and he wanted to get more involved in doing research like we were doing in the Exercise & Sport Nutrition Lab. He said he would be willing to drive back and forth to Memphis to participate in whatever way he could. 

Now, I’ve had a lot of people ask if they could help with our research. I politely say “sure” and then typically never hear from them again. But Mike was different! He began driving the 90-miles each way between Jonesboro, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee several times a week. He helped collect data, served on thesis committees, helped recruit students, contributed to presenting and writing dozens of papers, collaborated on grant applications, and worked with Lori to replicate some of the seminal research that we conducted on safety of creatine supplementation at ASU. He even collaborated with several other faculty members at Memphis like Dr. Andy Fry.  Because of this, Mike quickly earned the respect of our students, faculty, collaborators, and myself. He became an important research associate and contributor to the ESNL and was a major reason for its success.  He did all this while serving as a Professor and Graduate Program Chair who typically taught four classes a semester at ASU. That was Mike!

As we worked together, our families became friends and we watched each other’s kids grow up. My daughter Alison still remembers driving up to Mike and Lori’s “light blue house” in Jonesboro when she was a child and seeing his lawn mowed diagonally like it was a baseball field.  She remembers the Greenwood’s bringing baby Bryson to visit for the first time, going to football games, swimming with Bryson and my son Ryan in our pool, petting all of their dogs, and how Mike helped her develop as a basketball player through high school. Ryan remembers Bryson telling us “Ryan swims like a fish”!  A story Mike often told.  Those are precious memories.

So, when I became Department Chair at Baylor, Mike and Lori were among the first people I wanted to bring to Baylor. I hired Mike as a Full Professor to serve as one of our core faculty members to establish a PhD program in Exercise, Nutrition and Preventive Health. I was also able to hire Lori as a Clinical Professor to develop their accredited athletic training programs. Mike served as a Graduate Program Chair and PhD Program director. He recruited students, made sure they properly applied, mentored them, served on committees, ran comprehensive exams, and ensured they met deadlines and graduated. As Dr. Chad Kerksick reflected, Mike was tough, a stickler for following policies and procedures, but he cared and when you earned his trust was a loyal friend and colleague. As a faculty member now, he has even more respect and admiration for Mike’s efforts to help him and other students succeed.  The impact Mike had on recruiting outstanding students and the time he invested to help them transition to the university and matriculate through our program was immeasurable. With the efforts of Dr. Darryn Willoughby, this program quickly grew to be the largest and highest ranked PhD program at Baylor as well as ranked in the top 10 nationally. Mike’s work ethic, dedication and service to the department and his students were unparalleled.  When he made a commitment, he would do all he could to fulfill it. This included meeting a prospective PhD student and showing up to coach youth basketball within weeks of surviving a near fatal car. But that was Mike!  So, when I moved to Texas A&M, it’s no wonder why I wanted Mike and Lori be part of the Department of Health & Kinesiology.  However, this time, as I often kidded Mike, Lori was the lead hire to develop our athletic training program. At Texas A&M, Mike was instrumental in recruiting masters and doctoral students and collaborating on ESNL research.

As a scholar, Mike published 3 books, contributed to over 140 peer reviewed articles and chapters, and participated in hundreds of presentations at various conferences. He received coaching, teaching and research awards and was named Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Strength & Conditioning Association, and International Society of Sports Nutrition. He played key roles in development of the NSCA’s certification programs, serving as Associate editor for several journals, and contributing to a number of position stands. These efforts have influenced the development and practice of tens of thousands of professionals. For this reason, Mike left an indelible mark on the fields of strength and conditioning and sports nutrition. One that the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research and International Society of Sports Nutrition will honor by publishing memorials in their journal and/or naming a conference sessions or scholarships his name. While Mike would be embarrassed that I mention this today, I wanted those who loved and respected Mike to know the impact he made on our profession and that colleagues throughout the world have expressed their condolences and feel as one commented noted, “a legend in our field has been lost”. That is impact and that was Mike!

Mike was very proud of the accomplishments of his students. Over the years, Mike helped mentor over 50 doctoral students who have gone on to become well-published scholars, professors, chairs, deans, board members, and even presidents of professional organizations. The collective publications and national presentations of these students (and their students) number in the thousands.  Additionally, he trained hundreds of strength and conditioning specialists and contributed to the development of dozens of athletic training students. As Mike’s students reflect back, many have remarked that Mike saw potential in them that they often didn’t know they had. That he genuinely cared about their welfare, spent time to get to know them, and often went to great lengths to help them, even after they graduated. Moreover, many of our former students and colleagues shared how Mike would not only talk science, but they would have deep conversations about how they were doing personally, how their families’ were, and their faith journey.  That was Mike!

As you all know, Mike loved baseball and was a diehard Cubs fan. When we were at conferences during the baseball season, we would plan to catch the closest major league game if possible.  Our goal was to attend a game in every major league park and we were able to go to a number. This is something I have tried to do even when Mike was not at the conference. So, if I went to a game when Mike wasn’t there, I would typically call Mike or send a picture to share the experience.  I remember getting some great tickets behind home plate to see the Dodger’s play in LA and sending a text and a picture … “Hey Mike… guess where I am – behind home plate at Dodger’s stadium!” I remember taking my family to a Texas Ranger’s game shortly after we moved to Texas and calling Mike to tell him we were at a game.  Then, calling him to tell him A-Rod (who he knew as a baseball coach in Miami) hit a home run… then again after he hit another home run …. and then in amazement after he hit his 3rd home run! I enjoyed going to games with Mike because he could explain the coaching moves that were made throughout the game. I also remember him coming to my office after the Cubs finally won the World Series with pride (and relief) the Cubs finally did it!  That was Mike!

Mike was also one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. He would tell the best jokes and keep everyone laughing.  For example, at least once a year, we would take ESNL students and alumni to a nice restaurant while attending a conference to thank them for all their hard work. One year, we were in Orlando and decided to go to Emeril’s at Universal Studios.  We had a big round table and decided to get the Chef’s meal so we could have several courses and try as many foods as possible. Well, Mike started telling jokes and we were roaring. The more he told, the funnier they got, the more jokes he told, and he got on a roll. It should have been an HBO comedy special!  We were laughing so hard I thought we were going to be asked to leave! So after a wonderful dinner and as we were paying the bill, we commented how great the service was that evening.  It seemed they were there the entire 3 hours or so of the meal and they would get things for us before we even asked.  So, one of us asked if that was normal.  One of the servers then admitted they were hanging around our table so much to hear the punch lines of the jokes! So he apparently not only entertained us at the table but also the wait staff!  I once asked Mike how he knew so many jokes and he said “What else do you think we do in the dugout during games?”  Another time, we decided to go to Shula’s Steak House in Indianapolis and had a great meal.  For dessert, we ordered Key Lime pie, which is the official dessert of the ESNL, and it was one of the best Key Lime pies we ever had. I’m talking real Key Lime pie they shipped in from South Florida. So, the next night we decided to watch a baseball game in our room since Indianapolis doesn’t have a major league team.  While watching the game, we were talking about how good the Key Lime pie was and Chad Kerksick says “You know Shula’s is only a couple of blocks from here. If you buy, I’ll fly!”  So we pooled our money and Chad walked to Shlula’s and order an entire Key Lime pie – to go!  When he got back, we sat their watching a baseball game, Mike telling jokes, and eating Key Lime pie. That was Mike!

Finally, I would be remiss not to mention that Mike was a professed Christian saved by grace and grounded in faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We spent a lot of time talking about what matters most, faith and family.  Mike was heavily involved in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was not shy about sharing his faith with his students, friends and colleagues.  Mike also told us often how fortunate he was that Lori married him – and we often kidded him about getting married in Las Vegas!  He would often tell us he needed to check with his “CEO”, Lori, when making decisions. Lori, Mike loved and revered you and told everyone how luck he was to have you in his life. Thank you for being there for Mike and sharing your love with him.  We also spent many hours talking about our kids. Mike was so proud of Bryson and all of his accomplishments. He would regularly keep us posted about the latest Bryson stories. Bryson, be as proud of your father as he was of you and honor him by living a life of impact like he did. 

I could go on and on but we want to give you an opportunity to share your favorite “Mike stories” too.  I will close saying it’s seldom you have a privilege to work with someone as dedicated and passionate about their profession while being so invested in the success of others. It is even rarer to be able to call that person a true friend.  If Mike were here today, he would wonder why we are saddened because he is home in Glory, at rest, whole, and at peace. He would want us to remember all of the wonderful times we shared. He would tell us to stay focused, love your family and the Lord because our time on earth is short, keep moving forward, and invest in the lives and success of others.  Because that is a legacy worth living and leaving. 

May God bless the Greenwood’s, their loved ones, and friends.  Rest in peace my friend.  Well done!

Dr. Rick Kreider