WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. - Athletic, hard-working, unselfish, intelligent, talented, and determined are just a few of the traits that come to mind when describing the highly decorated basketball star at the University of the Cumberlands (UC) Lauren Wombles (London, KY).
A four-year starter who has been a member of three Mid-South Conference (MSC) Championships teams, made an appearance in the NAIA Elite 8, as well as a NAIA Sweet Sixteen stop, Wombles has not only cemented her place in Cumberland basketball history, but has demonstrated over and over again what it means to be an overall Christian athlete and true Champion of Character.
A three-star athlete who graduated from South Laurel High School in London, Kentucky, Wombles excelled in not only basketball, but softball and volleyball as well. Torn between which of the three to choose, Wombles finally decided it was her destiny to play basketball under Coach Melissa Irvin at the University of the Cumberlands.
“Deciding which college I would attend was a pretty stressful time,” Wombles said. “I talked things over with my family, my pastors, my God and had countless people praying for me. The moment that confirmed UC would be the place I spent the next four years was when my younger brother, Landon, had a seizure. He was sitting with me on the couch when it happened one night as my family was watching television. I knew at that very moment I wanted to be close enough where I could get home quickly if anything happened.”
Wombles was a success from her freshman year, not only earning a starting spot from day one, but proving exactly why she deserved to be there. Earning Mid-South Conference All-Conference status immediately, Wombles was also named MSC Freshman of the Year, leading the Patriots in scoring on the season with 14.5 points per game and grabbing 8.3 rebounds per game. Her efforts were also recognized nationally as Wombles was named a Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-American Honorable Mention after helping the Patriots advance to the Elite 8 in the National Tournament, the farthest the Patriot ladies have ever reached in school history.
After a flourishing freshman season, Wombles began her sophomore season right where she left off the previous year: on top. Guiding the Patriots to a second consecutive MSC Tournament Title, Lauren was once again named to the MSC All-Conference team as well as the Academic All Conference Team, earning a grade point average over 3.25. Wombles once again led the Patriots in scoring and rebounding while leading them to a Sweet Sixteen finish in postseason play.
After smooth sailing for a couple of years, Wombles was tested not only on the court but off the court when faced with a possible career-ending injury. In the last game of regular season play, Lauren went down with an ACL tear in her knee, not only ending her junior season but possibly altering the outcome for her senior year.
“The moment that I know that changed me into the person I am today was my injury,” Wombles said. “Yes, it was a rough road to recovery but I would not change a single thing about the past year. They say that things happen for a reason and I know that overcoming that made me such a stronger individual.”
Still earning MSC All-Conference status as well as named a member of the Academic All-Conference squad, 3rd team NAIA All-American, and a Daktronics NAIA Scholar Athlete, Wombles put her faith in God and set out to make a statement her senior season. She did just that.
Already capturing almost every available award, as well as becoming a member of the 1,000 point club half way through her career, Wombles accomplished the unthinkable this year taking home countless awards as well as breaking multiple school records.
Leading the Patriots to both regular and postseason Conference Championships on the season, Lauren led the team in scoring with an impressive 19.8 points per game and rebounds with 8.2 a game. As if these numbers were not impressive enough on paper, with these averages, Wombles surpassed Patriot great Soni Smith on the all-time scoring list as the top scorer in Cumberlands history with 2,098 points. She also moved ahead on the charts to become Cumberlands’ all-time leading rebounder as well with 926 total, passing Rhonda Hodges. But Wombles didn’t stop there. She also set the record for most points in a season with 635, most field goals attempted in a career with 1,614, and the most free throws made in a career with 430.
“"There are certain times when players stand out and Lauren Wombles has definitely stood out for the past four years," Head Coach Melissa Irvin said. "She is proof that you can have a great team and great individuals within that team still."
Along with the records, Wombles was named the MSC Player of the Year along with being named once again to the Academic All-Conference team. She was also recognized nationally once again being named a State Farm WBCA All-American, an NAIA first team All-American, as well as a Daktronics-NAIA Scholar-Athlete, marking her as one of the greatest women to play in Cumberlands as well as Mid-South Conference history.
“It’s really unbelievable to hear people say things like that and I simply consider it a blessing to even be mentioned,” Wombles said. “Looking back upon my career, I have no regrets and cherish each and every moment I stepped foot upon that court. God has placed some very important people in my paths upon this campus and I thank Him for those lasting friendships and memories. It's very simple: I've been blessed beyond measure!”
Wombles will look to continue her success in the Cumberland history books as she has decided to stay a fifth year to not only further her studies, but take on a new challenge: volleyball.
“At the end of high school I struggled as to what sport I wanted to play in college,” Wombles said. “I'm excited to see what it holds for the next year and am thankful that Coach Clemenz is giving me the opportunity.”
Although the outcome of the season can by no means be predicted, Cumberland can be sure of one thing: Lauren Wombles will once again prove what it means to be a successful and true Christian athlete.