You wouldn’t think a volleyball team that consists of only one man would be very successful but that is not the case with Bob Holmes. Holmes is a one-man volleyball team and not only has he won volleyball games by himself, he’s won against professional teams such as the Redskins, Orioles and the Minnesota Vikings.
Holmes will be speaking at Rantoul Township High School on Tuesday, March 5. The event will start at 6:30 p.m and is being sponsored by The Fellowship of Christian Athletes of Rantoul High School. There will be food and refreshments served.
Holmes is a motivational speaker and has been going to schools across the country to talk to young people about dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts. Holmes has been doing these types of events for 35 years, where he speaks to young people about overcoming the odds and then challenges the crowd to a game of volleyball.
"I have had over 20,000 games in front of six-million people and have played 500,000 people on the court," Holmes said. "The record is only 400 losses out of 20,000 games. It made it into Ripley’s Believe It or Not because it’s more games played than anyone has ever played in history in any sport."
For Holmes the idea to talk to students about these subjects came from seeing so many suicides and so he wanted to do his part to help. Holmes felt it was important to tell students that they should never give up hope at times when they are feeling low in life.
"It’s so important to never give up no matter what goes wrong," Holmes said. "That’s one of my themes. Another theme is to look down the road and not at the immediate things that can wreck your whole future by making the wrong decision. The third one is you don’t have to do what the whole crowd is doing."
Rev. Mark Wilkerson of Maranatha Baptist Church contacted Holmes about coming to Rantoul Township High School, because Rantoul student and athlete Donnell Robertson passed away last summer.
"His suicide really hit the community hard so I wanted to bring somebody in that would talk about suicide and the effects of that," Wilkerson said. "Holmes has had several students contact him, they were thinking about committing suicide and then they came to the rally and he changed their heart and mind about it. That’s what kind of sparked me last summer to get a hold of him. Try to help our young people in our community realize that there is hope and that you can beat the odds without taking extreme measures."
Holmes has received many letters from students who have heard him speak and watch him play volleyball. Holmes has a website, www.beatbob.com which has a letter written by a student who was going to take his own life on his birthday, but stopped after hearing Holmes speak.
"He was going to hang himself on his birthday with a computer chord and he threw it away after the assembly," Holmes said. "He wrote me that was he ever glad that he didn’t do it because now he is alive instead of dead. It meant so much to get that email."
A chiropractor recommended Holmes play volleyball after Holmes dealt with back pain. Holmes kept up practicing volleyball and then used playing the sport as a metaphor on how to deal with challenges in life that people of all ages can go through such as making the right decision when it may not be popular.
"For example in the cafeteria you should be the one to go sit with someone that’s been alone all year even though it might make you unpopular with other people to go sit with them," Holmes said. "It’s kind of a definite visual and word picture of not following the crowd to do wrong. So that’s one of the reasons why I thought this would be good to keep this up, not only to help me physically and overcome and beat the odds with my own back pain, but then help people to remember that point."
Holmes will be offering a chance for the whole audience that shows up at the Rantoul Township High School gymnasium to play him. Holmes is also hoping to have a game against local police officers. "When the police play I always give them a standing ovation for risking their lives for us," Holmes said. "We want to honor the police so they do come, that might encourage them to come. They should be paid more than NBA stars because they are the real stars."
Contact Ben Theobald at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @theobald_ben.