Last week Kevin Record resigned as the tennis coach and journalism teacher at Leon High School to take a position as Director of Tennis at his alma mater, Lynchburg College in Lynchburg, Virginia.
After 21 years, the Record era in Tallahassee comes to an end.
Of the 130 or so comments posted on his Facebook announcement, the words of Ann Davis, the long-time Tallahassee tennis professional, best sums up my sentiments: “Good for Kevin, sad for tennis in Tallahassee.”
I first met Kevin Record in 1995 when he arrived in Tallahassee from Virginia with his young family. Our lives intersected on the tennis court and as our friendship grew, it became clear that Kevin was a unique character.
Looking back now, the time we spent together in the 1990’s were transition years for so many of us who played league tennis in Tallahassee. We were a group of former junior tennis players in our late twenties to mid-thirties who loved the game for the competition and the comradery.
And we were all a little delusional.
Each of us were sure if it was not for a bad line call during the finals of that 14-under tournament in the early seventies, we would have made it on the professional tennis tour.
Forest Meadows became our home away from home. We would play 3 or 4 times a week, battle each other in local tournaments and, from time to time, travel as a team around the state to compete against other athletes seeking glimpses of the glory days.
We would win some, lose some, question line calls, argue with each other, laugh and get in the car and head home.
One year we made it all the way to Flushing Meadows in New York City.
In the Big Apple Kevin and I played a doubles match against a team from Puerto Rico. It appeared to be an easy win, as our opponents looked as if they did not adhere to much of a conditioning program. However, as is often the case in tennis, looks can be deceiving and Kevin and I found ourselves in a hole. We were getting beat!
During change overs we nervously laughed, as we pondered our situation. Then Kevin said, “we are going to lob these guys to death.”
The winds of Flushing Meadows were our friend and suddenly the duo from the Caribbean were gasping for air. We escaped with a victory.
What happened that day in New York summarizes what Kevin Record is all about: it is how you respond to life’s challenges that defines who you are and what you become.
Where he is now, the legacy he leaves behind in Tallahassee, tells you all you need to know about how Kevin Record responds to life’s challenges.
We continued to play tennis after New York, but soon life sent us in different directions. Our priorities changed, kids were born, people moved away, and we got older.
Over the last few years I seldom talked to Kevin, but it never felt like he was far away.
For example, I would be driving up Tennessee Street and look over and see him on the Leon courts teaching some aspiring junior. I would think to myself, I bet he is telling that kid “you got to catch the ball on the rise, son.”
I would read about his success as a coach. I would run into one of his two sons who would confidently approach me, shake my hand and say “Hi Mr. Stewart.”
Or Kevin would walk into MoMo’s and there we were, five or six of us sharing a laugh.
Now that will all change.
Tallahassee is lucky to have known Kevin Record. I am thankful he crossed my path.
Good luck Skrappy!