Carmichael Athletic Club
Inducted as a Contributor in 2008
by Jack Austin
I am privileged to nominate Tom Bridges of Sacramento, California as a candidate for inclusion into the NCHA Handball Hall of Fame. This honor is predicated on his tireless and unselfish service to the game of handball. Tom has contributed more than anyone to elevate the esprit de corps and sense of inclusiveness of handball players throughout the entire Sacramento Region, and thus is most deserving of this nomination.
Tom's commitment to the sport has made him the virtual "Mr. Handball" in the Sacramento Metropolitan Area. He is past president of the Sacramento Area Handball Association (SAHA) and both served and continues to serve as a right hand man for presidents before and after. During the period of Tom's stewardship, SAHA membership swelled to almost 200 members. And most of the activities SAHA has today are due to Tom's organizational skills.
In the early 80's, the United States Handball Association had the mantra to “Keep Handball Alive.” Tom Bridges took that phrase to heart and our region is much better off because of his involvement. Tom started playing handball in the early '60s while in the Marine Corps. After returning from Vietnam he went home to Portland, Oregon and continued playing at the Portland YMCA. Over the years, the scenery changed; college in Louisiana, marriage, and job transfers. But his desire for the perfect game never wavered. Serious handball bit him in the butt while living in Southern California in the mid-70's. His home courts were the Anaheim YMCA for indoor, Rosewood Park in East LA for small ball outdoor, and La Mirada Park for big ball outdoor. In 1979 he moved to Sacramento and joined the Carmichael Athletic Club where he still plays today.
Tom showed his natural born leadership skills and volunteerism right away at Carmichael. He was the driving force behind the development of the SAHA League. Now in its 16th year, the league involves five different clubs and 11 teams (of which Tom manages three) and has both an A and B divisions. As SAHA president, Tom expanded the local scene by organizing Sacramento squads to compete in the prestigious Bay Counties league. In the seven years of competition in the Bay Counties, the Sacramento squad, under Tom's involvement, has won the whole thing three times and finished runner up another three times. But Tom is not being nominated for these results, nor is he being nominated as a player. He's nominated because of his unselfish support and tireless effort to bring about things like a SAHA League and to organize a Sacramento team to the Bay Counties. This is what a "CONTRIBUTOR" does. He or she is probably not the best player; he or she is probably not a paid professional; he or she is what every aspect of life needs, a tireless worker who contributes for the benefit of us all because he or she loves life and loves handball.
Tom suffered a stroke in 2001 and several other surgeries now have limited his game. But three days a week he hits it up with our Geezer Group. But seven days a week he's planning or organizing some handball task such as putting new materials on our Club bulletin board, or working as editor of our SAHA Newsletter, the "Rollout." Please join me in recognizing the 2008 Northern California Handball Association Contributor - Tom Bridges.