3rd Edition Books are now available (1)

Play Is Where Life Is

“Play is Where Life Is” collects the memories of a North Carolina native over the past 67 years – stories range from the shenanigans of a preacher’s child, to the adventures of a freewheeling 1950s teenager; from a small college athlete to a National Hall of Fame tennis coach. Topics include crossroads, inventions called the automobile and television, tragedies, accidents, and plenty of drama from a cadre of small town characters.

The author covers topics from his 40 year career in college athletics including integration, Title IX, television’s impact, and internationalization. He also gives his thoughts on children and parenting in sports and, for high school athletes, he covers how to select and get in the right college athletic program. Other chapters include : how to successfully coach team tennis, highly skilled athletes, girls and women; levels of play; giving advice to players, parents, coaches, and organizations that govern tennis; and the behavior of players.

A special chapter investigates music’s affect during a personal crisis that included two failed back surgeries, a hip replacement, quintuple bypass surgery, and a “respectable” addiction to alcohol. All of these ups and downs in a career of coaching that matured into an appreciation for “play” and those willing to join the arena at any level.

If you are interested in purchasing a book (soft cover, 400 pages, 3rd edition), please send a check for $27.95 with your return address to :

Play is Where Life Is
c/o Tom Parham
202 Blue Crab Court
Emerald Isle, NC 28594

or email the author at : ethomasparham@gmail.com

68 thoughts on “3rd Edition Books are now available (1)

  1. I posted the address where you can send a check and Coach’s email address if you’re interested in purchasing a book. We’re working on the official website where you will be able to purchase by credit card. Hope this helps !

  2. Jim French

    I had not seen tom in 35 years and just read the book. I read 100+ books a year and this is the best humor in the last three years. Someone that is a marketer should get the word out.

  3. Ashley Shaw

    Coach I’m sending you a check today for two. Can’t wait to read it. I hope the “Egg Throwers” story made the cut if not maybe your next book? 🙂

  4. Russell Rawlings

    Coach always could tell a story! Reading this reminds me of the year our tennis team drove to nationals in Kansas City instead of taking the plane. We wanted to show the players, especially those from overseas, a portrait of America. However, they slept most of the way and listened to their headsets when awake. I drove and Coach Parham told story after story from his youth and his AC experiences. It was then and there that I really grew to appreciate his talents as a storyteller, appreciation that grows exponentially with the publication of this book.
    I cannot imagine that the first run will last very long! The book is a fabulous recollection of an equally incredible life, a life through which the lives of others have been enriched and enhanced.
    Many will read to see if they’re in there; others will read to make sure they’re not! A fascinating tale of Americana, marinated in the Southern experience and basted in the barbecue sauces of Eastern North Carolina!

  5. Jim Toney

    Tom Parham’s book, Play Is Where Life Is, will delight anyone who enjoys good humor. When you read his account of the trip he and wife took white water drafting down the Colorado River, you will laugh until your sides hurt. Don’t miss this great read.

  6. John Eatman

    I really enjoyed the stories. I found myself laughing out loud in several places. It brings back lots of memories and memorable characters. Unfortunately, I am too old for the tennis advise but it is an excellent source of the tennis parent and budding player.

  7. Can’t wait to get the book and relive some of the stories. I THINK? As Russell said, you were a great story teller and have many to tell. Also, as John stated, tennis is behind me now but would appreciate any golf tips. Good luck on the book to one that is most deserving. You have been a great influence to many of us who had the pleasure to play for you.

  8. Johnnie Dennis

    Do yourself a favor – You deserve it. Put this book on your “Must Read” list. I’ve been enjoying Tom’s story telling since the late 60s and have encouraged him to “write this stuff down” since hearing the first one. Well – He finally got around to it. I just finished my first reading and enjoyed each and every story (some several times).

    There’s no bearing-around-the- bush here. Tom develops vivid characters in one paragraph or less then puts them in a scene even more vivid in the next sentence.

    Can’t wait for the movie!

  9. Joan Adams Jones

    Having grown up practically on the Barton College campus, I observed bits and pieces of this as it happened. It was great to read and reminisce about Dr.Hamlin, Mr.Cloyd, Sam Modlin, and other characters in this book. There were a few tears shed and a lot of laughs. A LOT!! Tom and Margaret Parham have been such a positive influence in the lives of many people, and I am so grateful to be one of them. Congratulations on a hugely entertaining book, Tom! I’m going back for seconds now. Roll on Big River!

  10. This book is a must read for anyone who grew up in the 40’s and 50’s, as it will bring back all sort of memories about the way boys were “raised up” in the days before car safety seats, bicycle helmets, and fears about guns, talking to strangers and pedophiles.

    But, even if you didn’t grow up in that era, you will still come to know all sort of characters, as Tom brings them to life, and there ARE some characters. The book is not so much about tennis and coaching as it is about “life”.

    Highly recommended.

  11. John Morel

    Coach-Congratulations on the book!

    I am much looking forward to getting my hands on a copy. As anyone who has come in contact with you would know your stories are timeless as is your advice.

    Hope to see you again soon.

  12. Sally Gwaltney

    A delightlfully humerous account of a preacher son’s life experiences and recollections of “characters”, friends, and family.
    Had a great time reading. Lots of laugh-out-louds.

  13. Eddie Gwaltney

    Tom Parham, a true coach and teacher, has shared his philosophies, expertise, and stories that have been influenced by the game of tennis.
    Anyone, including the tennis buff will enjoy this book.

  14. Chai & Julie Navawongse

    What a great book from a great coach. The stories from his childhood were eye-popping reading for this Thai boy. A great read. Tons of laughs. You will enjoy this book.

  15. Jim Post

    Tom Parham’s book “Play is Where Life Is” is like being in a good ol’ conversation–great memories of what life was like back then that made us who we are today. If you lived in Eastern North Carolina around 1945-2000, this is a book of memories for all of us. Coach Trevathan and Country are best for me, because I know them. A great book! And does Margaret look great in her Au Naturel shot. Thanks, Tom.

    Jim Post, ECU Football Co-captain, 1972
    Southern Conference Champions
    Note : Carlester Crumpler was my teammate and Coach Trevathan was one of my coaches

  16. Allen Searson

    Tom “Petie” Parham is one of my heroes. The knucklehead sorta took me under his wing when I was a student at Atlantic Christian, and I’ve been trying hard to recover ever since!

    Can’t wait to read it.

    “Petie” Parham is truly one of the absolute princes in life.

  17. As a former high school and college baseball player, I must say that I don’t appreciate the game of tennis as does my buddy, Dr. Parham. However, I do love humor, and he has definitely hit a home run with “Life is where Play is.” It’s a great read! Wish I could have witnessed first hand the Grand Canyon trip.
    Country Boykin

  18. Alan White

    Very funny stories that I am sure depict “mostly true” happenings and stated in the vernacular of the times. Some of the stories may be “offensive” to those involved, but it’s difficult to not think that it is an accurate description of what really happened. IT IS FUNNY STUFF!!!! I would recommend pulling the Tennis material for a second book that might be more appealing to a young, aspiring tennis enthusiast. This book contains some great food for thought.

  19. Robert W. Brown

    Tom’s Book would prove to be an interesting read to anyone who has had contact with him over the past six decades, but especially so for those present and in contact with him during the 1960’s, 70’s & early 80,s at ACC/Wilson and at Elon from the mid-80’s until his retirement. The guy’s memory and recollections of past friends, former players, events and happenings are incredible. Tom, thank you for sanitizing your observations about me, but Bee and the girls know most of the happenings, including the Spring of 1960 and Mattie.

    BRUNO (Robert W. Brown)

  20. David Odom

    Reading “Play Is Where Life Is” reminds me that nobody appreciates “Play” and understands “Life” better than Tom Parham!

    A real treat!

    David Odom

  21. Bennett Sapp

    Tom, I hit the silver button on the air blown hand dryer with an underspin backhand and waited–and waited–and waited–finally a faint “PUSSYCAT’. Thanks for the special copy– photo autographed by Margaret at “Whitewater Falls”. –Took me five minutes but I found the Canadian…

  22. Ron Smarr

    I found “Play is Where Life is” by Tom Parham a very entertaining and informative book not only about tennis but also about life.

  23. Larry W. "Punkin" Ritter

    Tom, I just heard about your book. Martha Jane, sister of Willis Williams, wrote me about it. She said there is a picture of me on page 51. Can you send me a signed copy? I look forward to reading it. I remember you and your parents very well. Do you remember every time it snowed, I would borrow your sled ?
    Thanks “Punkin”

  24. "Tuddy"

    Tom: You have enhanced “Tuddy’s” reputation forever. Without TVs and other distractions all our imaginations ran wild – I never found a creek I could not fall in.
    Sterling ie., “Tuddy”

  25. The entry in my Daily Diary from 11 June 1971 reads, “had lesson with T. Parrhamm. BIG”
    Coach took me in, a fat red-headed kid, as one of his juniors, when I got too big to play midget football. To a 12 year old he was BIG.
    Although I can look him eye to eye now, he is still BIG.

  26. Roland (Thumper)Thornqvist


    reading this book is like playing for you all over again. More important than all your trophies and awards is what you taught all of us who played for you. This book shows the man behind the awards and why you were so influential in our lives. It illustrates why I thrived at Elon and gave me the confidence to succeed in America! We love you, coach!

  27. Russell Wilson


    Your book is funny as you always were. We miss you at the poker table–just send us a check for what you know you would lose!!

  28. Dan Magill

    Thanks a million for your great book PLAY IS WHERE LIFE IS. I got many many laughs. The book is very interesting. I enjoyed references to many people, town I knew. Thanks again for your wonderful book—a treasure indeed. Sincerely, Dan Magill, former UGA Tennis Coach

  29. Peggy Golden

    Your approach is honest, real, insightful and so full of common sense. The truth and wisdom come shining trough. I loved it and loved your courage to speak candidly. –Peggy Golden, Senior Player

  30. Kay Stallings

    “I have been expecting the “trashy sex novel” but I guess the memoir will have to suffice.
    Kay Stallings, former student

  31. Bill Ozaki, Director of Programs and Player Development STA

    “I am using the book towards improving our college tennis situation.” Congratulations.

  32. Jim Toney, economics professor (Ret) Elon University

    I enjoyed the book very much. I am happy to say Tom Parham is my great friend.
    Sincerely, Jim

  33. Coach Ron Lee (Ret)

    I am enjoying the read. Congratulations on getting all those memories in print so they won’t be lost.
    Ron Lee

  34. Leo Lambert, president Elon University

    “I have it proudly displayed in my office with my Elon faculty book display. You are the most scholarly coach Elon ever had.”

  35. Dale Fillingame, former basketball teammate

    Tommy: Congratulations on your book–I always told you you should be a writer. I’m reminded of the term paper you helped me with for Mrs. Johnston’s class. She handed me the graded paper and I quote “Tell Tommy he did a good job.”

  36. Allen Searson, former ACC Basketballer

    Send me that book so I can soak up a little of that good old fashioned story telling.

  37. Danny Phillips, former ACC tennis player (NAIA All American)

    “It has some great lines from the old school crowd, and will make the modern day crowd appreciated the old schoolers more.”

  38. Mike Kennedy, Elon Baseball coach

    “Coach P. : I can’t believe that you would do that to me! Share my shortcomings and the fact that “Mike, you can’t do that”.

  39. Jack Webster

    ” I really enjoyed your book PLAY is where LIFE is. You really captured the flavor of Madison during the late 40’s and early 50’s.—-You are indeed a gifted author. Also, you must have been a great coach at Elon.” Jack Webster, Attorney at Law

  40. Jody Davis

    “I still have fond memories of our brief relationship and I always enjoyed competing against your teams. You provided an example for the rest of us and a path rarely travelled. I respect you and all of your accomlishments and wish you the best in the coming years.”——-Jody Davis, Coastal Carolina Women’s Tennis Coach


  41. Dr. Virginia Skillman

    “Thanks so much for your excellent book! We have both enjoyed reading it, especially your “Wilson Days”, of course. You have a definite gift for writing”. —-Virginia Dumas Skillman

  42. Dr. Fred Young

    “Congratulations on your wonderful book, and thank you for sending me a copy. It arrived just before Phyllis and I left for Indochina, and we both read it on those long flights chuckling all the way. Great memory and great humor. Also, I admire your energy and tenacity in publishing a book. You were always a great tennis coach and a wonderful athletic staff member. I am delighted to learn of your literary disposition and skill”. Dr. Fred Young, President Emeritus, Elon University and Chairman, Visiting International Faculty Program

  43. Cy King

    You have always been such a wonderful storyteller. Thanks for writing this book and capturing the memories of some of the people, places and times that many of us have grown up with in North Carolina Tennis. You have influenced so many and I know that having your thoughts in print will be appreciated by all of us whose lives you have touched.

    Cy King

  44. Jerry Mc Neill

    Tom; You invested a lot of time, effort, and genuine, original Tom Parham in this book, that’s obvious. A great read for all male children from 9 to 90. Thanks for remembering, my friend. Jerry Mc Neill

  45. Several things have surprised me about writing. The most pleasant is how many will re-connect with you. Letters, e-mails, visits, reunions, book signings, etc. have brought back many with whom my life is some how connected:

    (1) “Punkin” Ritter e-mailed me from Texas saying the picture on page 51 is actually of his brother, Jerry. Sorry, “Punkin”.

    (2) Jerry McNeill pointed out a different version of the “beaning” on page 47. Jerry said he actually fielded a ground ball and hit the runner with the attempted double play throw. Jerry added the runner was a good friend from a summer league and he ran over to help him. When Coach Gordan ordered to “…tag him” our second baseman advised “…Coach, it don’t look like he’s going anywhere.”

    (3) The shoot-out described on page 27 occurred before my time in Robbins. I re-connected with Ervin Hunsucker at Emerald Isle for a pleasant visit, after about 50 years. Ervin, a classmate and football teammate, was also a cousin to the Browns. I described my accounting of the incident and asked Ervin if I was close. He added this corollary: “You were on most of it, but the Brown boys weren’t quite satisfied, even though Moxley died. Six years after his death, the Browns went to Moxley’s grave and blew it up with dynamite.”

    Meaningful “re-connects have included: A.J. Carr; Macky Carden; Bill Pfeiffer’s daughter, Heather; David Spear; Annette McFall Epps; Lee Anglin; “Foot” Reynolds; Coaches Mike Reidy, Tom Childress, Jerry Drake, Lennie Riddle; team mates Jack Hussey, John Eskew, Jerry Ashworth, Ray Smith, Phil Williams; 100 book signers from Wilson, N.C.; former teachers, colleagues, varsity tennis and basketball kids I coached; as well as many students and campers we coached. And the new friends have been quite supportive.

    There has also been a stream of news about other connections. And there have been some sad revelations. Some were quite tragic that I was unaware of. All in all, ours is a connected, successful, “mature” group. I’ve enjoyed the second go round and I thank you all for your efforts and encouragement.

  46. Coach,

    I’ve read the damn thing twice now and it wasn’t because I was bored or didn’t understand it the first time. Sure was good to see you at the Barton signing and the Fike Hall of Fame. My best to Margaret and the boys

  47. Rocky Covington

    Your book, “Play Is Where Life Is”, is an awesome account of how life growing up in Small Town, North Carolina reminded all of us of our Tuddy’s, Deem’s and friends. Your experiences, stories, philosophy on life, and your friendship have impacted my life and the lives of everyone who knows you. Thanks for sharing your life, beliefs, challenges, struggles and victories in writing. “Play Is Where Life Is” will be treasured by us all even more as the years go by.

    P.S. My initiation at the Roger Dodger festival was a life changing experience!!!!

  48. Ray Stallings

    Congrats on the fine reactions to your book. Reading comments from your former players, friends, “partners-in sin” and others only adds to the wonderful legacy you have established and the positive impact you have had on so many.
    I too have enjoyed reconnecting with former students, friends and players as a result of writing a memoir about my experiences as a young teacher and coach in the North Carolina mountain town of Saluda early in my 37 year educational career.
    My book, “My Saluda Seasons” recounts my experiences and the impact those experiences had on contributing to my educational philosophy and life-long values. The book’s publication has enabled me to achieve reunion with past friends and also “give back” to Saluda by contributing all of my book profits to the Saluda Public Library.
    Continued best wishes for health and happiness. Your friendship and mentoring as my coach is something I treasure.

  49. Paul Miller

    What a great book!!! After reading the first few pages…and having my wife come check on me because I’m laughing so hard….I ordered 5 copies to give to my friends as gifts. I promise you will love the stories of some unforgettable characters!!
    –Paul Miller, UNC ’72

  50. Tom Chowns

    Coach Parham,

    The book was great! I really enjoyed reading it from cover to cover. The stories were great, and being a 1977 Graduate of Atlantic Christian I recognized a lot of the individuals mentioned. I always realized you were a great teacher and really special but never realized you were such a character!

    Take care and enjoy your retirement!

    Tommy Chowns

  51. John Malpas

    Hey Coach, great book and tennis instruction section. As I read the first book I was reminded of my special tarheel time I experienced with your assistance in the mid 80’s. After reading the second book I realised where I have got a lot of my coaching ideas from.
    Thanks again and meet up soon
    John Malpas

  52. PLAY is Where LIFE is!

    What a raw and loving profile of a man, husband, father, teacher and coach! Tom Parham offers the reader an extraordinary book, packed with humor, pathos, and passion for learning and teaching through the magic of the sportsmanship of tennis. Here we have a classic compendium of the rules, methods, and discipline of tennis wrapped in a heartfelt professional life of a man dedicated to nurturing and protecting collegiate tennis programming. This is no cut and dry tennis manual. Moreover, it is a guide in extolling both male and female students in their individual development of the good character and life values of this quality sport. The instructive energy of the whole book is embodied in the rubric “play is where life is…at every level.”

    Parham deploys this theme as “book-ends” to his own life; his boyhood in a small southern town and the reward of attending an exceptional small liberal arts college in cementing his career and values. Parham’s book gives absolute proof that good students and coaches will continue to be found on the tennis courts of life and calling on his hero, Bob Dylan, he has planted a perennial message in the heart of his remarkable book that music can change your very soul. Yes, “love is just a four letter word.” Go for it! Jess Maghan, ACC ‘63

  53. Allen Searson

    Petey, Got a dozen hats for you. Gonna need a few more books too. I’ll have the hats shipped to you this week. Give Maggie my love. A

  54. Two comments from personal letters that Coach asked me to post:

    “Thanks again — a terrific book, and a life well lived.” — Mike Anderson, Radford University Tennis Coach

    “The book kept me reading much longer than anything else I’ve read in a long time” — Ian Crookenden, Head Coach Saint Joseph’s University

  55. “T-Man” What else can be said about this man that has not already been said. I was probably on T-man’s first tennis team at Atlantic Christian now Barton, and his tenacity, wit, humor and caring demeanor, was a big factor in where I’m at today(not in jail). I have read the book and I can honestly tell you it was one of the funniest, most enjoyable books I’ve ever read. We can only wish that we had more people like “T-Man”, to coach and guide our children. “T” I’ll cherish your friendship forever! Will see you in January. Booty

  56. Lane Evans

    Coach Parham is one of North Carolina’s greatest natural tennis and life lessons resources. His insight and experiences not only provide a great read but will also show you the paths to successful teaching and mentoring. I have been fortunate enough to know coach since my playing days at rival High Point College (Now High Point University) where we battled Atlantic Christian College for several NAIA District 26 titles. I was always invious of the ACC players for having such a great coach and wished I could have been one of their teammates. We also share our mentoring experiences with the late and great Coach Jim Leighton. Coach Parham brings tennis to a common sense level and doesn’t turn into rocket science. This is the kind of book, like coach Leighton’s book, that I will refer back to over and over again as I encounter the different player types and personalities on the court. Thank you for sharing your life with us. I am very apprecative. le

  57. ethomasparham

    Coach Parham,

    Good morning! Hopefully this email gets to you. I was able to get it from Olde Porte yesterday. I just purchased

    2 new racquets from them. When I called to thank them for their help, they gave me this address.

    First of all, let me thank you for our time under the tree at Land’s End. What a great way to spend an hour talking

    to you. It was one of the highlights of my vacation! I told my wife I wish I had done it every year. Sharing stories and names of yesteryear was so entertaining and heartwarming.

    Secondly, I finished your book. My God, it was fantastic!! Any male who grew up in small town North Carolina needs

    to read it. The stories and antics would certainly take them back to a wonderful time in their life. Of course, all the

    names you mention from Wilson and ACC bring back incredible memories. Cloyd, Hartsock, Pete Craig, Rand,Thompson,

    “Moon”, Tyson Jeanette, and so many, many more. Tyson fixed my broken nose my freshman year when James Jones’

    big ass hit me with an elbow the first night of practice. When Jeanette learned I was from Henderson, he spent more

    time talking about it than he did straightening my nose.

    The book is an emotional journey for the reader and I’m sure it was for the author. I laughed and laughed and almost

    cried a time or two. Reading in bed one night, I woke my wife by laughing so loud.

    I really also enjoyed the technical part also. Great stuff! When I give tennis lessons, I still teach the 6-ball (shotgun barrel) method. I even still have a copy of Coach Leighton’s book you had us buy when we took your class. It is

    such a classic.

    Hope this email isn’t too boring or long, but I really wanted to share the thoughts. Even though I am retiring from

    the school system at the end of September, I’m definitely going to take your suggestion: “Keep on Playing”.

    Thanks for everything,

    David Hicks

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