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Induction Speech for Bob Callaway
March 13, 2014
We are here tonight to honor a very special person, a trail blazer who dedicated almost his entire career to platform tennis. No one has ever done as much, on such a full time scale, with such longevity as Bob Callaway.
At his core, first and foremost, Bob was a teacher. It was not about him, it was about his students. He cared deeply about them and their progress.
- Could they learn the game?
- Were they having fun ?
- Could he organize a game for them?
- Could they make one of the teams?
- How could he keep them coming back?
- What could he do to grow the game?
He was an unselfish man. He studied the game. If you read his paddle book and see the 6 frames of photo of John Mangan’s forehand, you understand how meticulous he was. He observed, he learned, he participated, he taught. This was his craft.
Bob was arguably “the first paddle pro”. He began in the late 1960’s and retired in 2012 at age 78. Today, there are well over 200 paddle pros nationwide. You paved the way Bob…..these pros today are flourishing and providing vital leadership, energy, and growth.
He was a top 16 player on the 1970’s tour and later became a National Senior Champion. His was known for his “signature lefty kick-spin serve” (a truly nasty shot). But tournament play was not where Bob was destined for greatness. It would be in a far broader realm.
Bob was also an entrepreneur and risk taker who opened the first commercial Paddle Center in Norwalk CT in 1972. For ten years this was a gathering place for men, women and children from all over Fairfield and Westchester. Bob literally introduced the game to thousands of people at this first public paddle center.
As Bob’s career progressed in the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s, he served with great distinction as the Head Paddle Pro at the New Canaan Field Club, Wee Burn Country Club and taught a number of other local clubs including the Greenwich Field Club. He also began to consult in the executive presentation skills field and made regular trips to teach his corporate clients in NYC and Connecticut. This made for very long days……as in when you wrapped up a seminar with business executives, you then had to dash off to a 7pm clinic or playing lesson, probably changing your clothes in the car or the bathroom on the train.
Bob was also an author, writing a book titled “Platform Tennis”. It was an overview of the game, it’s history, with insights into each stroke. It served as a very sophisticated teaching guide and 225 pages no less. - He was a founding member of the PPTA and an APTA Board member. He played a vital role in stewarding APTA Rules and recruiting and training Umpires. He conducted certifications programs over many years. He was always generous with his time whether it be traveling to the R.J. Reilly Paddle camps at Jackson Hole or helping lead the Viking Junior Kick-Off Academy.
Bob’s enthusiasm for the game was contagious and this positive attitude made learning fun. In many ways he became an ambassador for the sport.
He coached many National Champions at various stages of their careers (collectively these individuals won over 60 National Championships). Many of these players are in the audience tonight. They’re here to honor Bob, for all his support, his guidance and his friendship.
As one of his protege’s said, “Bob worked a lifetime to grow platform tennis – he did this by connecting and inspiring others. Bob’s legacy will always be about the people who he helped to get involved in the game”.
And now, he is the recipient of the APTA’s highest honor, the Platform Tennis Hall of Fame award to BOB CALLAWAY.