BANNER ELK, N.C. – Lees-McRae College's Vice President of Athletics and Club Sports Craig McPhail announced Thursday morning the hiring of Lieutenant Colonel Rodger Acklin as the school's new Head Men's and Women's Tennis Coach. Acklin, who is a former Bobcat tennis player himself, is a 1997 graduate of Lees-McRae.
"I'm honored and humbled to be named the new head coach of Bobcat Tennis," said Acklin. "Don Baker signed me here in 1988 when we nationally ranked. In 1996 I was given an opportunity to come back and finish my tennis career and we won a conference championship. LMC educated me on and off the court, as well as allowing me to marry the most beautiful lady in the world. I look forward to building a program that is known nationally and internationally. Our program will be built on the principles that I learned over a 24 year career in the United States Air Force. The core values of integrity first, team before self, and excellence in all we do."
Acklin played both No. 1 singles and doubles for LMC's tennis team that won the conference and reached the round of 16 in the national tournament. Acklin earned the title of European Armed Forces Champion in during his tenure overseas. As a coach, Acklin guided LAMP High School in Montgomery, Alabama to three sectional championships and finished in the top three in state of Alabama at the 5A level.
"We were looking for someone with a love for Lees-McRae and the organizational leadership to bring our program back to notoriety," said McPhail of the hiring of Acklin. "In Lt. Col. Acklin we have someone who played here and has a lifetime of leading people along with a love for this college. His plan of involvement with the alumni and community along with the desire to develop our young people in all facets of their life were something we felt was needed. I am excited for him and his family for their return, but also to see him work to bring our program back."
In addition to his experiences in tennis, Acklin enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1993 and later received his commission from AFROTC detachment 772, Charleston Southern University in May 2000. He attended Undergraduate Air Battle Manager training at Tyndall AFB with an initial flying assignment to the 965th AACS Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. Since entering the Air Force, he's held numerous positions in various organizations including, NATO AWACS Flying Squadron Three and Training Wing, 965th, 963rd, 552d Operations Group staff.
He has experience in several different AWACS crew positions with 1,800 flight hours and Operational flying experience in Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Joint Guardian, Southern Watch, Counter-Narcotics, as well as several Operational NATO flying missions.