Q&A with Lewis Rolen, operations assistant

Lewis Rolen and daughter Meredith at a Cardinals baseball game.

A middle school social studies teacher for 30 years, Lewis Rolen now provides operational support for the Department of Otolaryngology – and women’s basketball commentary.

How would you describe your current role?

Rolen finds a friend at a recent Billikens women’s basketball game in Lawrence, KS.

I have been with Washington University just two years, all of that time with the Department of Otolaryngology. Originally my job title was Attendant Inventory/Delivery, but I am now called a Department Operations Assistant. I see myself as the circulatory system of the department, delivering nutrients (mail and packages) to all our vital organs. 

What do you like best about your job?

It’s great seeing all the different people within the department while at the same time staying active by getting my steps in. I average around 20,000 steps each day. 

What did you do prior to coming to WashU?

I was a middle school social studies teacher for 30 years. I also coached high school varsity football, basketball and tennis. 

Tell us about your YouTube adventures as Big Lew, host of Cheap Wine & Women’s Basketball. Do you have a favorite episode or segment, and what is your favorite cheap wine?

I think the San Juan edition of the podcast is probably the best episode so far, although nothing beats the Market Snub House rant which is also on my YouTube page, lol. The Charles Shaw Wines are preferred although I will occasionally descend to the Gallo Brothers assortment of flavored mayhem. 

What was your inspiration for starting the YouTube podcast?

I love women’s college basketball. I find the games and players more compelling to watch than the men’s game. You can really see the growth and development of squads year to year and they play a more pure form of basketball that I can relate to (below the rim). I also coached girls’ basketball several years and, unlike the guys, the ladies are far more willing to listen and learn. 

What else do you like to do when you’re not at work?

Rolen at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, MO.

I am a sports junkie! I’m a Mizzou football and Billiken men’s and women’s basketball season ticket holder; an ardent Cardinals fan of course; and will take occasional road trips to follow my teams. I’m also geeked out about going to the Track and Field World Championships in Eugene, Oregon this summer.

My other passion is music – everything from blues, reggae, classic rock, funk, and jazz. The first concert I attended was James Brown’s “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud“ tour, and I have been fortunate to see lots of really great artists live: Isley Brothers, Stevie Wonder, John Lee Hooker, Lena Horne, Black Uhuru, Yellowman, Stevie Wonder, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Earth Wind & Fire, Al Green, Gladys Knight, Sade, Eryka Badu, Public Enemy, HER, Chuck Berry, Elton John, Todd Rundgren, John Fogerty, Andra Day, Miles Davis, BB King, Koko Taylor, Macy Gray, Ohio Players, Taj Mahal, and countless others.