“DYLAN DAYS” (178)

Jennifer Fulmer played on my Women’s tennis team at Elon University. One day the AUSTIN TEXAS senior wore a “Dylan Days” tee shirt to practice. She told me that they played Dylan all day long in Austin every  year on that day.
Mr. Dylan just won the Nobel Prize for Literature, having just played the desert concert along with the ‘stones, Paul McCartney, the Who, Neil Young,etc. Quite a week.
Tonight he plays on tour in Durham,NC.

“,,,roses are red and violets are blue,
and time is beginning to crawl.
I just might have to come see you,
where teardrops fall.”

Helping (176)

I’d like to share a copy of my writings, comments, and a collection of sources that have helped me.  Between the books and the blog, this a “haystack” of thoughts of various types.  It is, perhaps, a folder of inspiration that goes in many directions and is presented in no particular order.  Mainly it deals with coaching and teaching tennis  in America over the past fifty years. Lately I have concentrated on helping high school tennis teams, coaches, and players.  Some handpicked “lessons” are enclosed, excerpts taken from earlier writings, new blogs,other sources, etc.  I have doggedly tried to help enhance the amount of scholarship  money going to American men and women, as evidenced inside.    As Ray Charles once said, “You may not like all of my music, but hang on, I’ll find you.”

Download the full Helping file (160 Mb) here: helping-by-tom-parham



I attended the NC High School’ s tennis coaches clinic in Greensboro last week. This is held and hosted on the UNC-Greensboro campus with Coach Jeff Trivette as chairman. This is the first time in a while I had attended and was impressed as Coach Michael Leonard of Elon University put on a superb doubles clinic for some 150 high school coaches from our state. I attended the first tennis clinic the North Carolina High School Athletic Association held. Wake Forest coach, Jim Leighton was the clinician and there were four coaches at the Latham Park courts. That clinic was the beginning of a different level of desire to be a good coach, for me personally. In 1985 I put on that clinic.

I watched the progress that has been made in high school tennis in our state. The Burlington Tennis Center was and is the site of many state championship tournaments so it was easy to watch many of these.

As I watched the clinic this year I told some one “…there is a lot more CARE in that group than knowledge. Granted several of the coaches demonstrated good skill on the court. I have said all along that a high school coach who cares and drives the van properly is all parents can hope for. Now I think it time to help them. They , by virtue of their attendance and willingness to coach our children, have earned our assistance.


Much is already being done. The NCTA , The USTA, The NCHSAA, The North Carolina High School’s Coaches Association are going hard to help. Where help is needed comes from several sources:

**** Pay for these jobs is meager compared to what is asked and expected.
****The pay will not attract top notch tennis coaches in most instances. Most of the very good ones are volunteers, or close.
*** The typical “assigned” staffer is often a football coach, one who knows nothing about tennis. Or some similar scenario.
****More and more are “adjunct”, or part time coaches, who don’t have even the academic background that teacher/coaches have.

One way to start is a “THINK TANK” or committee to examine what is possible. We have a tremendous group of fine players throughout the state. We have in place an organization of teaching professionals in NC. Many times the best source is a “tennis angel” who silently plays with youngsters. No one gives more than parents. The club pro benefits from high school families.

There is another largely untapped source in our state. The NC TENNIS HALL OF FAME members. There seems to me to be a group of old pros and young turks in our select group who could also help the coaches in their area. Many of the hall of famers and pros are the same people. Many already give or have given to tennis in many ways. There are so many ways these people could enhance the knowledge, confidence, and performance of particularly the beginning coaches. I can’t list them all. Believe me, you can help.

I would also suggest to these coaches to look for the local angels. My experience is these are great people who only need to be asked. It may be one afternoon a week, It may be a helpful phone call. Showing a drill, filling in for an emergency, play an exhibition, take them to a college match, gift of equipment—old or new, simply attend matches, etc.

I think a good place to start “thinking” would be the coaches, the Pros, the angels ,and the organizations to brain storm the how. The why is obvious. And I think there is ample evidence that this help is available. And I am convinced the link between high school and juniors and parents and these volunteers can thrive.
The first place to start is knowledge plus need. Our hall of famers and our professional tennis teachers are where to start.



I have a golf acquaintance that is almost 90 years old. Still plays from the regulation tees and shoots well below his age. He is 6’3″, weighs about 240lbs and looks like he could play tight end in college right now. I asked him what sports he played in high school? I didn’t PLAY anything. I had to work. Tobacco was the worst. (fault line 1).
At 76 (born 1940) my generation was allowed to play. I could be in school, church, working, or on the team. My guess is post WWII boys had fathers who were more willing and able to loosen strings on the family workforce.
The next sports fault line, I think, was that parent who clawed his way to the top through hard work and wanted to give their kids “opportunities I didn’t have!” Admirable but sometimes flawed thinking. Some of these went overboard, giving the kid unlimited time and money for play. Often the youngster began to believe school, work, discipline, were for others. These “pros to come” wound up wondering what happened when the inevitable (for most) work, was unavoidable. “There are two kinds of golf(or tennis) pros: The workers and the players, and all the players are looking for a job!”
One college president said, “…the worst thing for a golfer is to be able to shoot par!” Planning to play for a living is indeed a bad bet.
I don’t want to discourage youngsters from trying their best at sports. Handled right there are great hard work and life lessons in sports. What I am seeing too much of is a more frightening fault line.
A recent beach visit by his grandchildren had an “old coach” friend excited. “I may want you to help with these two on their tennis.” Ready to help, I waited to no avail. I asked Grandpa what happened? “I asked the two of them to go hit four days in a row. Each time they barely looked up from their video games, thumbs twitching, to mumble “Maybe tomorrow, Pop.”
Double fault.


“Yea, foolish mortals, Noah’s flood is not yet subsided; two-thirds of the fair world it yet covers.”

Just saw Ron Howard’s film The Sea Beneath Us,about Melville’s research for his great novel, Moby Dick. The film, like the book, is a testament to the “leviathan” and his power. We saw it in 3-D. And, while this magnified the whale’s fearsome abilities it also makes another point. That being the uncontrollable ability of the seas.

Witness Melville’s words on this subject:

“…though but a moment’s consideration will teach, that however baby man may brag of his science and skill, and however much, in a flattering future, that science and skill may augment; yet forever and forever, to the crack of doom, the sea will insult and murder him, and pulverize the stateliest, stiffest frigate he can make; nevertheless, by the continual repetition of these very impressions, man has lost that sense of the full awfulness of the sea which aboriginally belongs to it.” And:

“But not only is the sea such a foe to man who is an alien to it, but it is also a fiend to its own offspring; worse than the Persian host who murdered his own guests; sparing not the creatures which itself hath spawned. Like a savage tigress that tossing in the jungle overlays her own cubs, so the sea dashes even the mightiest whales against the rocks, and leaves them there side by side with the split wrecks of ships. No mercy, no power but its own controls it. Panting and snorting like a mad battle steed that has lost its rider, the masterless ocean overruns the globe.”

Whale oil preceded modern oil and its products for our energy. And while we give ourselves credit for ceasing the massacres of whales, our misuse of oil and carbon may find us among the slaughtered. Politicians won’t decide about climate change. The sea will.

And, while the question of off shore drilling here in North Carolina, and off our Atlantic coast, has serious financial and social variables, that is not really the issue. Nature and the sea are showing us some severe possibilities. Any who pretends they know the limits of the power of the seas of the world is a fool.


Close friends Alan White and Earl “Country” Boykin graduated from small, pre-consolidation North Carolina public schools. I did too.  Senior class size about 40.  We are in our mid-seventies.  Many small rural schools of our era played “six man football”.  It still exists in other states today, Texas among them.  Just not enough players to field the 11-man teams.

But it was fun.  John Ormsby is the self-ordained historian of 6-man.  Two of his books are on 1. North Carolina 6-man, and 2. Wilson County (N.C.) 6-man.  Both Alan (Elm City) and Earl (Rock Ridge) are Wilson County boys.  You may know of Rock Ridge, the home of Governor Jim Hunt.  Governor Hunt was a 6-man Rock Ridge teammate of Earl’s.  “Country” said “…next to me and Ava (Ava Gardner) I ‘spect Jimmy was among our finest.”

Both friends were fine all-state players.  Ormsby’s book describes White as ‘…the most sensational player to hit the six-man ranks in some time, if not all time in North Carolina. A few even compared the talented back with the likes of Charlie Justice.”

My family moved when I was 12. I reunited with friends from the first town, Madison,N.C. , recently.   I asked so many questions about townspeople from 62 years ago that one friend sent me the “WILDCAT” annuals, or yearbooks circa 1958/59.

Three things stunned me. Having left at 12 years old my interests were somewhat limited. The girls of the town, now at 18 years or so had CHANGED. WOW!   And I do apologize for not paying proper attention.   Secondly, it was amazing to remember all kinds of people and events, some not thought of for many decades. And, 3rd, the yearbook itself. Much like “annuals” of that time it showcased  the activities each senior participated in. The goal for 12 years seemed to be how many things you could put on the list. Who did what, if you will:  HOMECOMING QUEEN TO SHOP (1,2,3,4), All from band to Spanish and year by year.

Same at my high school.  I went back and looked.  Willis Williams had an impressive senior resume and justifiably so. Dr.Williams went on the be one of the world’s top surgeon for congenitally damaged infant  hearts.  A true adult star:  Same as a youngster, from eagle scout to Morehead Scholar (the first from our county). Willis’ long list included “annual editor”.  Not half the story.  Hell, he took every picture in the book.  Even then  the book budget was tight.

No problem for Dr. Williams.  He turned to family.  There were loads of Williams in our area.  Willis said “…the best chance of getting a date is at a Williams family reunion.” He then created a method for space, i.e. pages in the book, chronologically.  Justifiably Willis Williams, named “Mr. Elise High School” got a whole page.  Senior Superlatives {remember “Cutest” etc.?) named Williams got their half page.  Senior Williams got their picture and their list.  Williams from the Junior class through the ninth grade their first and last name or “John Williams”.  From the eighth to third grade only an initial:  Or– B. Williams.  First and second graders were only Williams, listed side by side in the last rows.  Tops was the third grade.  Out of 78 kids there were eleven Williams.

Earl said he didn’t remember his list.  “Just sports and probably FFA ( FUTURE FARMERS OF AMERICA).  I WAS the Quarterback and called all the plays.  Simple though in 6-man.  I’d say something like “Bobby to the right side on 2.  Rudolph, gitcherman.”  Had to tell Rudolph Proctor to “get your man” every play.  Rudolph said  “…he moves around a lot”  Later we just called him GITCHERMAN.”

I’ve seen Earl’s annual.  Lot more on his list than he listed.  My guess is all of us had a lot of opportunity for some  pretty good leadership roles.   Time has shown  those experiences have produced a lot of small town American leaders.

Earl has a great team picture of their team, backdropped  by a tobacco field.  “Our uniforms were hand me downs from Charles L. Coon High School in Wilson” , Earl said.  He pointed to a kid in the picture:  “That’s Bobby Hinnant.  Nice guy and a good player.  Only kid in the school who could play drums.  At halftime he played with the band.  In his hand me  down football suit.  What the hell, you can’t have a  marching band without a drummer.”


I noticed Country wore a nice pair of argyle sox for picture day.