James Michener’s SPACE suggested that numerically the odds are fifteen to one that there are other habitable planets. He wrote SPACE in 1982. The same question posed last night yielded this analogy: With what is known now about the number of stars, without having found such planets, is like taking a glass of water from the ocean and finding no fish, assuming there are none in the ocean.


A new book, “Em “Ole Coaches” by Tom Parham is now available. Coach Parham stretches his insight this time. “ I have been ‘hobby writing’ for fifteen years since retiring. A 5OO plus blog of articles plus seven things that look like books. I have selected the best of all for this book.” Chapters are made of chosen comments on the wide variety of topics. Parham adds “..everything from pickle ball to religion.” Light humor to war, race, the future. “This is an “everyman” attempt. There is new tennis knowledge included, written since the green book.” 


Tom Parham has been a student, an athlete, a teacher and a coach. He has observed life thoroughly from each perspective, soaking in the humor as well the heartache. He is a great storyteller with great stories to tell – the end result of a life well-lived and a life well-listened. “‘Em Ol’ Coaches” is a compilation of these experiences that defies the pigeonholes of essay and editorial. He delivers the written word in an honest North Carolina voice, a voice shaped by a journey that begins in Charlotte and makes its way across the state to Emerald Isle, with many stops along the way. Enjoy the ride. I did. (Russell Rawlings, North Carolina Bar).


Tom is always cogitating, mulling things over, which makes him also an inveterate agitator.  He likes to unmask illusions.  His book takes us on a journey through a life-time of seeing things differently, often from a perspective of humor.  Maybe Tom is Will Rogers reincarnated!

Richard  (Richard McBride is  a retired Chaplain from Elon University, a fine man, and my friend.)  tp


“This isn’t just a book for tennis coaches.  It  is a book for all coaches.”  (Joe Robinson, former UNC football staff).  


Macky Carden was the head football coach at Elon College in 1985. They had great results in NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) football in the 1980s, having won National titles in 1980 and 1981. They were again preseason #1 when I took a job there that included athletic administration duties. Unintentionally I interrupted a staff meeting on player evaluation. They allowed me to sit in on the judgements. Later I asked Coach Carden how they determined whether a prospect had what it took to be an elite college football player. Macky, a stellar lineman, had his own vernacular. Often he preceded nouns with “em ol” or them old. (“em ol” linebackers, or “em ol” defensive coaches, or “em ol” academic dicks across the street ). Addressing my question he concluded : I tell you, “em ol” high school coaches are honest and pretty damn accurate.”  I learned a lot from coaches. And a lot of “em ol” people who were coaches in their own way.




Tom Parham

202 Blue Crab Court


Emerald Isle, NC



 NCTF is pleased to help supply Tom Parham’s book, “The Little Green Book of Tennis” to our many hardworking coaches who can gain knowledge about tennis to impart to their HS players.”

Coaches will appreciate his originality and benefit from his years of experience.” (Coach Bob Bayliss, Notre Dame Men’s Tennis, ITA Hall of Fame)

We talked frankly about his book.  I know he believes firmly that it will serve America’s young players, coaches & teams.  I know it’s foundation.  I know this man.  Both are solid.  I cannot think of anyone more qualified than Tom in regards to his knowledge of the game.  If you want a true “student of the game” and excellent coaching skills, he  is your man!!!  “The Little Green Book” is proof.

J.Allen Morris

I just received your “signed” book today!  I finished reading the digital copy last weekend.  I really liked your advice on Preparing For College Tennis.  I think many parents could benefit from that advice.

 — Paul  Miller  (North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame)

The wisdom gained in a brilliant career has been boiled down to  bite-sized pearls of wisdom in “The Little Green Book of Tennis” – a must-read for coaches, instructors, players, and parents.


His words flow off the page much in the same manner as the great teachers and coaches I have known. Coach Parham concludes that “this material is, in large part, not mine.  I am only the messenger. I believed in it and benefitted from these masters. I did write it down.”  I don’t think anyone has done it better.” (David Odom, Wake Forest University Men’s Basketball Coach)

Coach Parham is a master teacher and looked at as a integral part of tennis history in North Carolina, the South, and the nation. The book, The Little Green Book of Tennis is spot on in method and message for coaches, players, and teams, at all levels. Buy it.” (Roland Thornqvist, Head Women’s Tennis Coach, University of Florida)

NCTF HALL of  FAME MEMBER, Keith Richardson comments:

“Coach, thanks for “Little Green Book of Tennis”…’s a gem, a resource, a reference tool, a reminder of the lessons we should be teaching on and off the court.  Pure genius the way you weave your funk into time tested drills, coaching and life advice that  most of us have heard before, but have forgotten to pass on.  

My advice to the pros, coaches, and instructors of the game? Buy two copies of “The Little Green Book of Tennis.”  Place one on the coffee table to impress the cocktail crowd.  Take the second copy and do what you are not supposed to do to a literary work: throw it in your tennis bag, take it to the courts, the locker room…get it dirty and beat up by repeatedly opening and letting your eyes go to the guidance and advice that you didn’t know you were looking for…. dog ear the section that you can use in your next clinic, highlight the one sentence that becomes the “tennis tip” in your weekly newsletter, steal the forty coaching years of Coach Parham’s wisdom and share it with your team…..all the while acting like you came up with the winning formula by yourself.  Coach Parham wouldn’t want it any other way.

Tom, thanks again for the work, and for sharing it.”


A discussion among a group of retired tennis coaches included this question posedof a new retiree : Why did you retire so early? The amusing answer included new limitations on the amount of cursing, dress requiremrnts, shorter practices, and such. The coach laughingly concluded ” Heck, they were taking away all my main tools and techniques. Basic fundamentals of my coaching!

Subsequently, on a trip to celebrate the 80th birthday of friend Bill Morningstar, we again told old basketball tales. Which inevitably led to Bill’s college basketball coach, Bill Miller. M’star not only played point guard for Miller’s Elon College teams, he was his assistant for a record number of seasons.

Here is an earlier discription of Miller tales I collected:

Coach Miller was from Harlan, Kentucky, and he spoke that language.  Around anyone from the Dean to his players.  I knew him not only from the basketball world, but tennis too.  AC was in the same conference as Elon (the North State, then the Carolinas Conference) and Coach and I were around each other often.  I’d heard countless stories about him, and had witnessed several “classics” myself.

One pastime in my early times at Elon was to ask anyone who had been around Elon for a while if they “Knew Coach Miller?”  This invariably drew one of two unequivocal responses.

#1  “I didn’t care form him.” (that meant my interview subject had probably walked across the gym floor in street shoes.  If so, some variation of “Get your goddammed ass off my gym floor”,  came from Coach.

Author’s note:  I know I’ll be chastened for language, particularly for using Coach Miller’s, but “ if I’m lying I’m flying.” Ask any Elon veteran.

Miller was rawboned, black haired, and glared at you. His assistant Coach Bill Morningstar covered for him as best he could.  Booze, language, threats, violence itself, was everyday “Miller Time.”  Miller would run ‘em off, “Star would go get ‘em.

The #2 reaction I got was always priceless, and always different.  Coach Miller was creative.

Once the “Fightin’ Christians” had uncharacteristically lost its first four games at home, all the while winning three straight on the road.  The team was to play its next game at home.  Instead of meeting at the usual 5:30 pm time for pre-game meal, Miller told Morningstar to “get their asses down here at 3 o’clock sharp.  Tell them to wear their road uniforms.”  Morningstar never questioned Miller.  No one was more loyal.

Dressing in their team room, Miller ordered them outside into the travel vans.  He and ‘Star drove both vans all over Alamance County. Then, back in the gym lot, he coached them to go get dressed, eat, and come back and play like you are “on the road.”

Elon had great teams under Coach Miller.  The fans wondered what he’d do next.

Players, too!

Once the van stalled on the railroad tracks.  Miller goosed the ignition, while admonishing, “don’t none of you bastards move.”

Grr! Grrr! Then a train whistle.  Here came the Norfolk Southern, balling the jack.  No one moved.  Finally, moments before the 80 m.p.h. train knocked the van over a power line, Miller relented  “Every man for himself.”  Morningstar was in that van.

Miller cancelled a game with Campbell University and Coach Danny Roberts:  “There’s a dangerous snow up here, Danny.”  Really it was a snow job.  Elon had four starters with the flu.

Administration, faculty, students, fellow coaches all had a Miller story.  If you meet one, ask ‘em.

Perhaps my favorite was from Bill Bowes.  Bowes was typical of most freshmen in the early ‘60’s.  Fresh, tender, white, and about to confront his coach.  At 6’7” Bill started his first game.  It was home, in Alumni Gym.  Packed house for rival High Point College coached by Jerry Steele, 6’9” Hall of Famer. 

On his first college play Bowes said that as he battled for the rebound under High Point’s basket, he inadvertently tapped it in….for High Point.

Embarrassed, then stunned, as he saw Coach Miller bound off the bench calling “Time out,” just before grabbing Bowes in the center circle.

Miller walked his puzzled freshman center right up to Coach Steele and said “Steele, this Son of a Bitch is knocking them in for you guys.  Let him sit his ass on your bench.”  And plopped Bowes in to an empty chair.

One player resented being called an S.O.B. and requested a conference with Miller; telling his coach he objected to him insulting his parents.  Miller paused ever so briefly, and according to Morningstar concluded.  “You are right.  I’ve met you parents and they are really fine people.  I guess you’re a self made Son of a Bitch.”

Morningstar swears that when he and high school teammate, Chip Connors, tried out for Miller and Elon, Miller recruited them thusly: (He was in his Boxer Shorts)  “Well if you two Sons of Bitches want to come to Elon, I’ll give both scholarships.  If one of you only wants to come, I’ll give that Son of a Bitch a scholarship.  If neither of you comes, I’ll go find me two more Sons of Bitches.”  He walked out.

With my fondness for characters, I delighted in Miller at conference games, when he or I scouted, or at tennis matches.

Actually at tennis matches we rarely watched tennis.  The routine went about like this if we were at Elon: He’d always give me something, a shirt, a film of a game I played in, some shoes, or something.  He’d then give the balls and the scorecard to his “captain.”  Miller didn’t know but one player’s name, his “captain.”

Then we’d go back to his office, or the gym and talk basketball, for a while.  Then we’d ride to Huey’s BBQ for a “gratis” sandwich.  We’d be in his pickup and when he finished his beer, he’d left hand the can out the driver’s window into the truck bed.  It had a lot of beer cans in it.

If we played in Wilson he was trapped at the courts.  One sunny March day he started taking off cloths.  Got down to his pants only.  I thought he was going to keep going so I asked him a question.

“Coach, did you see the All-East basketball team in Sunday’s News and Observer?”

Integration was in full bloom and Eastern NC High Schools had a particularly good crop of talent.

“You got that paper?” he asked.  

“Its over at the library? Wanna go?”

I walked him over.  I owed him many favors, plus I was afraid he’d strip.

The librarian at Hackney Library was Irene Harrell. She was a tough one.  I asked her if she’d let us see this particular issue.  “Sure” and she brought it to the reference desk.

Miller located the sports section, then the All-Star page.  He simply ripped it out of the paper and walked out the door.  I didn’t go in the library for a long time, and Mrs. Harrell never spoke to me again.

Miller was so colorful, people tended to look over his virtues.  While intense as a coach, he was just as intense as a friend.  Almost always people would cite his generosity and kindness to less fortunate community people.

Bill Morningstar said he’d use the team to pick strawberries and pass them around the town and campus.  Need your swimming pool cleaned? Call Coach.  Years after his departure, good deeds were revealed.  Mostly when he made an attempt to be anonymous in his generosity.

I was moved to hear two incidents revealed by a former football player, Prince Deese, on his induction into the Elon Athletes Hall of Fame.

Obviously Prince was a fine young man.  He did the perfunctory task of thanking his football coaches.  He then told of his relationship with Miller.

Prince said he was an oddity at Elon his first year.  A black kid, and very limited in ability.  He only knew Miller as someone who didn’t like Blacks. He’d never met him.

One day he got a call from Coach Miller saying he’d heard Prince liked to fish.  Prince agreed to meet Miller in front of his dorm, 4:30 am, the next morning.  They rode to a local pond in the dark.  It was very cold.  Very little was said.  Coach Miller lent Prince the proper tackle and they fished.  Prince got his lure caught in a tree that hung out over the water.  He couldn’t untangle it.  And Coach Miller ignored him.  Finally, Prince said, “Mr. Miller, what should I do about the lure?”  Miller responded, “ Get your black ass out there and bring it back.”

Aghast Prince contemplated his options.

Before he could act, Miller stripped, shoes up to waist, waded out waist deep and threw the loosened lure back to Prince.

They fished frequently without anyone’s knowledge until now.  Once, as they were coming home from a successful day, Prince felt brave.  Brave enough to ask Coach Miller what he saw when he looked at Prince”  “Whadda ya mean?”

“Well, I’m quite black, and we always listen to that gosh awful country music.  Couldn’t we play some ‘soul’ once in a while?”

Miller reached across Prince’s midsection and started opening his door.  They were running about 50 m.p.h.  Miller tilted back, still driving, and started trying to push Prince out of the right side with his foot.  “You don’t like my music, you can walk your ass home!”


I began to wonder what “tools, techniques, behaviors the late Coach Miller would have cited as deterents to his coaching:

  1. They gonna let them damn girls play in my gym.
  2. Gotta limit the “F” word.
  3. No more drinking in the office or on the bench.
  4. Players can’t smoke during practice.
  5. Can’t cut the gate receipts.
  6. Can’t bang em around any more. Damn.
  7. No queer or ethnic jokes.
  8. Can’t take things I need from professor’s offices, or the library.
  9. No more waving a noose at referees
  10. Can’t schedule games on Christmas day or after 4pm on Thanksgiving.

In Coach Miller’s time you almost had to be a “mean man coach” to get a job. Almost all of his peers were tough cookies. None I ran into could challenge Bill. “He would make coffee nervous.”


Light at the end of the tunnel? Check the article below. American men’s tennis players finally make a dent.

Half played college tennis. How many internationals in the draw also honed their skills at our colleges and universities?

One mo time: Reserve half of American tennis scholarship money for American players.


Bryce Holmes is professionally a chemist.  He works now for North Carolina A&T University, but his heart is on a tennis court.  Many small towns have special “tennis angels” who nurture youngsters in the game.  Lexington, N.C. had some angels and the town was one of the best “tennis towns” anywhere.  Bryce Holmes was the first black high school player at an integrated high school in North Carolina, and a good one.  I answered Bryce’s phone call one day at Elon.  He wanted to get into college coaching.  Shortened story finds Bryce helping us at Elon. He and I talked incessantly and about all kinds of things. Bryce not only was a natural coach but was and is a friend.  

But had his trepidations.  A fine college tennis player at Livingston College, he was to be inducted into their Athletics Hall of Fame.  Bryce had heard me speak a few times and wanted some advice.  “What in the world do I talk about?”  The cat was scared!

Not quickly sure what to advise Coach Holmes to speak about, the subject was dropped.  Pretty soon the subject of playing on the high school team came up again.  Bryce remembered during that period  coming home after school and finding a  rumpled paper bag on the porch. Opened he found tennis balls. All varieties of brands, colors, and ages, and wear.  “My dad gathered some old balls,”  Only Mr. Holmes denied the act.  No one could tell where they came from.  Next day, more  similar balls.   Only a neighbor has witnessed the donor this time.  

“Jake left the balls!”

Jake Braddley was the garbage man.  Everyone knew him.  Quiet, limited in some ways.  Certainly no tennis hero.

The neighbor said he asked Jake about his gifts.   Jake said he had heard about that young man wanting to make the team and Jake wanted to help.

I advised Bryce then. “Tell that at the banquet.  There won’t be a dry eye.”

Still coaching my buddy.


Tom Parham <>10:32 AM (0 minutes ago)
to me

from Ezra Klein podcast:
“Here is what this movement of millions should do, for a start,” Malm writes. “Announce and enforce the prohibition. Damage and destroy new CO2-emitting devices. Put them out of commission, pick them apart, demolish them, burn them, blow them up. Let the capitalists who keep on investing in the fire know that their properties will be trashed.

” …three blind mice. See how they run.”



Wilson Gym was named for  the townspeople. Our biggest battle was fighting local kids, who constantly tried to sneak in, or fought to stay in. 

Early on it was used for concerts. College campuses were the scenes of some great shows in the ‘70s. We had the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Earl Scruggs, and the J. Geils Band, and many more. 

It wore thin quickly. Outsiders wrecked our new home. The “Tams” shined their shoes on my new Fred Perry tennis shorts (from my locker) Booze, dope, hell, copulating was commonplace. 

The staff objected, but we were over run. My final straw was the night of the great Eagles show. 

My volleyball class had been assured the gym was ours until the piano player took over at 3:00 pm to tune. As we entered the gym the tour manager said no, the piano player was tuning now, at 1:00 p.m. 

The manager and I argued briefly and he stated, “Man do you realize you are messing with the Eagles?” 

My class applauded my response: “The Eagles can fly in ever diminishing circles until they fly up their own assholes, we are having class.” (A la Paul Newman’s description of the Poona Lagoona bird.) We pushed in. 

***The text is from PLAY IS WHERE LIFE IS (t. parham )