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Tom Monroe (b. January 3, 1947) is a champion of virtually all flying disc sports, including ultimate, freestyle, field events and especially disc golf.
In 1973, Tom Monroe was in Atlanta for the summer working in order to earn money to re-enroll in college at the University of North Alabama in Florence. That year Wham-O held nationwide frisbee events called "The Great Frisbee Fly In" in conjunction with radio stations all across America. Tom had played frisbee with his roommate in college and could throw pretty well for playing catch and doing a few tricks, so the time had come to test his skills. Hundreds of people showed up for the competition at Grant Park, with events for distance and accuracy. Tom won both events.
After returning to the University of North Alabama in 1974, Tom wrote a letter to Wham-O. As a senior soon to graduate, he figured they should give him a job. Wham-O referred Tom to the International Frisbee Association. After a few letters back and forth, fate had Tom flying to California for his sister's wedding. Tom's father was in the aerospace industry and had lived in Birmingham then Huntsville before moving to California and lived within 10 minutes of Wham-O's California headquarters. Ed Headrick sent a car to pick him up. During their meeting, Ed told Tom about the World Frisbee Championship they had just run in August. Tom told Ed had he known about it he would have been there. Ed laughed out loud and told Tom "you have to be invited" to which Tom replied "I will be there next year".
After touring the Wham-O plant, Ed took Tom to play disc golf at the new course in Oak Grove. Ed explained that he was working on a design to catch frisbees, since at that time all they had in the ground were metal poles. Tom met and played with Ed's son Kenny and women's World Champ Monika Lou. Ed told Tom of a couple 1974 frisbee world champs, John Kirkland and Victor Malafonte, on tour with the Harlem Globetrotters. They performed a halftime show for the basketball icons and later Tom met them again in Memphis and Atlanta. They had shown Tom how to do the 'nail delay' in Memphis and were amazed that he had mastered the trick only one month later in Atlanta. Later in the Summer of 1975 Tom bested each to win the International Accuracy Title in Toronto. Within months Tom had established himself as a major player and now knew what he wanted to pursue as a profession.
Tom returned to college very excited about frisbee sports and immediately laid out an 18 hole frisbee golf course around the campus at University of North Alabama. He recruited members and formed the Florence Frisbee Team, the first players from the South to venture to such established tournaments as the National Frisbee Tournament in Michigan and the Octad at Rutgers in New Jersey. That year Rutgers produced a grad student player named Dan "Stork" Roddick, his nickname coming from his amazing abilities during ultimate and freestyle play and Dan was also the editor of Flying Disc News magazine that circulated along the East Coast. Wham-O recruited Dan to became the new director of the International Frisbee Association. His first order of business was to establish a network of reliable frisbee players around the country who could organize and run events by driving across America for recruits. Upon his first venture to the South he met with Tom and the Florence Frisbee Team. Afterwards he asked Tom to become the Regional Director for the IFA, giving Tom a job as he started Graduate School. During these first few years of working with the IFA, Tom began performing Frisbee demonstrations, which was another source of income and led to a company car from Wham-O. Tom picked out a brand new, full size customized Dodge van and was then able to do shows all over the country. His new team, Frisbee South, traveled America spreading the joy of disc sports from public schools to college campuses and also did substantial promo work for Wham-O, performing at venues such as Major League Baseball, National Wham-O Promotions NASCAR Races and NBA basketball games.
As part of his position with the IFA, Tom was responsible for starting State Flying Disc Championships and started the first-ever such event in the South in Florence, AL during the fall of 1974 after his return from Wham-O. This was the first ever event including disc golf alongside distance and accuracy field events. Tom managed to help start state tourneys in Mississippi, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky. These tournaments were the seeds for all of organized disc sport to follow in the South.
While Tom was in college he met Lavone Wolfe and formed a lifelong friendship. Lavone is the founder of the Disc Golf Hall of Fame and was the Co-Tournament Director (along with Bill Wagnon) for the 1993 PDGA World Championships in Huntsville. While Tom was in Huntsville he helped the nationwide movement to place PDGA control into the hands of players. Ed Headrick realized that this was a good idea and asked Tom to be on the newly formed board of directors. Tom stayed on the PDGA board for ten years and was influential in forming new policy and procedures.
Currently Tom is the Flying Disc Sports instructor at University of Alabama at Birmingham and Samford University and is course pro at George Ward Park in Birmingham, AL. He also runs a disc golf business and enjoys teaching and mentoring new players.