Longtime athletic director Bob Summers had a lot of sports to choose from when he decided to volunteer. “But at my age," says Summers, now 90, “most sports aren’t going to let you do too much. Be a ticket-taker or something. With the CSGA, I’m right out there.”
And Summers is right out there often. In that decade since his wife of 53 years, Ruth, passed away, he has served as on-course official at about 84 events, usually 18 or 19 a season. His favorites: the One Day Series. And like the former Marine lieutenant he is, Summers has jumped in with both boots.
“Bob is the consummate volunteer–reliable, knowledgeable, dedicated and a team player,” says Marsha Rupp, who heads up the One Day Series, sponsored by Chris Cote’s Golf Shop. “After his characteristic cheerful morning greeting, Bob is off for the day with binoculars in hand, assisting the players with lost balls, rulings and pace of play. He won’t leave his post, in rain, bitter cold or sweltering heat until the very last group has come through. He is an integral part of our One Day tournaments and we are so fortunate to have him!”
The feeling is mutual. Summers, who was introduced to the CSGA volunteer corps through friend George Cafferty, loves being part of a team, having spent most of his career building them.
“From the first event I went to, I was impressed with how professional they were,” says Summers.”I really appreciate being part of a team like that. And One Days are fun.”
A former teacher and coach (wrestling primarily) he served as a high school athletic director for 43 years, mostly at Avon High School, where he developed the first athletic program. (Students previously attended Canton High).
In his spare time he organized the Avon Babe Ruth League and founded the Avon High Booster Club. In the summer he umped Little League games. He chaired the CIAC Girls’ Tennis Committee and served on the CIAC Wrestling Committee, and was a wrestling tournament director for 25 years.
Summers was secretary of the Northwest Conference for 11 years and a sports chairman for the Nutmeg State Games in 1989-1991. He was a member of the State Department of Education Committee and secretary of the Connecticut Association of Administrators of Physical Education.
For all of this and more, the softspoken Summers was inducted into the CAAD Hall of Fame in 2016.
Retirement in 2000 gave him a chance to polish off a neglected golf game, and he now plays in a 9-hole league at Crestbrook Park Golf Course in Litchfield County hear his home. Adminstrator that he is, he notes that in 2019 “We had 24 days of good weather and only one day of rain.”
Summers shot his age a few years back, an 82, at nearby Simsbury Farms Golf Course on a day “when everything came together.”
Summers stays north through the winters, spending time with daughters Karen and Diane and son Paul. Two of the three are lawyers, he says, “so I get a lot of good free advice.”
A former varsity baseball player and wrestler at Boston University, he still works out three times a week during winters at a fitness center near his home, with one exception.
Each February he attends the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, drawn by the special access and rates for veterans. “It breaks up the winters,” he says,“and it’s wonderful event.”
Of the many things Summers took on and accomplished as an educator and athletic director, he’s most proud of his hiring of coaches. And what did he look for in those coaches?
“Someone who really knows his sport, loves to spend time with [players] and is a team player himself,” says the Volunteer of the Year.
Sounds like someone we know.