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Friday, March 6, 2015

Interview with Lawrence Eyre

Lawrence Eyre teaches tennis at Grinnell College now.
Think about this story, which Lawrence shared with us.

Laurie Eyre still coaches at Maharishi.

Zen master, Ivy League alum, tennis guru: Grinnell assistant men’s and women’s tennis coach Lawrence Eyre does not lack when it comes to job titles. The S&B recently sat down with Eyre to discuss all things from collegiate tennis to transcendental meditation and his grueling commute.
Could you give a short summery of your career so far?
Well, I’ve been teaching tennis since 1966. I’ve taught over 15,000 people how to play the game. And I’ve stuck with it because I enjoy teaching and I love tennis. I spent 25 years as a high school coach, founded a program for boys and girls that did real well locally in the state of Iowa.

So you were part of a group that founded the Maharishi School?
My wife Laurie and I were among the five or six founding faculty in 1981 and graduated our first class in 1983. We taught for over 30 years there and Laurie is still going.
Could you explain the meditation method that you use?
Transcendental meditation is very simple, very natural and it doesn’t involve concentration or contemplation. It is a mental technique which allows the body and the mind to experience a sense of restful alertness, very profound rest, without any focus required. A child who is a fourth grader could learn it just as well [as] a professor.
Do you bring your meditation practices to the Grinnell team?
I certainly have not made it a point to ask people to meditate. Tennis stands on its own. But the record is pretty clear from [the Maharishi School]. Being the smallest school in the state of Iowa that had a tennis team, but winning seventeen state championships, that there is something going on. I like to think it is the releasing of stress, the dissolving of fatigue and strain that helps people be more alert and able to take what the coach offers by way of correction or improvement suggestions and put them into practice.
Very cool, so did you play tennis yourself?
I did play at Yale. I played at Moline High School [in Illinois] and was a Quad City champion at singles and doubles and qualified for the state tournament in Illinois for two years. I was offered a Division 1 scholarship at Illinois State. But as soon as I got an academic scholarship at Yale, it took me about four tenths of a seconds to sign that one.
So what brought you to Grinnell?
Well really, it was good fortune I think. I was reflecting on this with Andy [Hamilton ’85, men’s and women’s head tennis coach]. In the high school state tournament in any number of years it was just Maharishi versus Grinnell High School. And Will Hamilton ’17 and Charlie Wilhelm ’15 both played against us, played wonderfully against us, but our school won. So I didn’t know if I’d be welcome when I came. But people have been so receptive, from all the team members to Andy.
Finally, are there key difference between coaching high school and coaching college, both talent-wise and personality-wise?
Yes. And I am happy for the change. Because after 25 years [at the Maharishi School] what I reached was a point where there were kids on team whose parents had been on my first class. And I said, “I’ve seen that backhand before. I’ve seen the problem with that backhand before.” It was a wonderful experience, but I wanted a new metabolism. So, it’s a delight for me when we go to different venues to see all the Grinnell kids studying. We talk about knowledge in the van, which reminds me of my own experience at Yale. People who value learning and they value the contrast, the balancing contrast that the dynamism of tennis can offer.


Tennis Coach of the Year.