World-Record-Setting Athlete and Inspirational Speaker
Bob Holmes is a one-man, world record-setting volleyball player who travels across the U.S. and around the world playing exhibition volleyball games solo against teams of players and speaking to audiences to show them how they too can ‘Be a Winner by Beating the Odds’. To date, Bob has played over 20,000 games of volleyball solo against teams of players and shared his inspirational message to a combined audience of over 6 million people. His game record currently stands at 19,800 wins – 417 losses.
Bob has also played volleyball solo against teams of professional athletes including the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Minnesota Vikings, the Miami Dolphins, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Buffalo Bills, the Washington Football Team (previously known as the ‘Washington Redskins’), and the Baltimore Orioles with Hall of Famer Cal Ripkin, and he’s won every game.
Bob holds the world’s record for having played more games in any sport than any other athlete alive and was featured in the ‘Ripley’s Believe It or Not’ worldwide record book. He has also been featured on ABC News, CBS This Morning, CNN, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal.
Since 1983, Bob has dedicated his life to helping prevent and deal with teen and adult depression, bullying and suicides, and inspiring audiences with his powerful and uplifting message. Countless lives have been impacted, as expressed in thousands of letters he has received. Many have shared that they considered or planned to commit suicide but changed their minds after seeing him play and speak, and others say he helped them understand how to deal with tough circumstances, negative feelings, bullying and depression.
What is even more remarkable about Bob’s story is how he overcame a number of obstacles to achieve all of these feats. Growing up, Bob was not at all athletic, didn’t enjoy sports and in gym class he was often the last one picked to be on a team. Though he had played volleyball in gym class, he never played on a team in middle school, high school, or college. As a boy, Bob was a very shy person and found it difficult to talk to other people.
Following college, Bob drove long distances around the country for his career. After traveling for 6 years he developed such severe back problems that after a long drive he would need the help of two people to walk from his car to a building. A doctor diagnosed that he had developed a pinched nerve from sitting in a car for lengthy periods of time and recommended that he get more exercise.
It was at that time that Bob began playing volleyball 3-4 times a week with a friend in the backyard. Eventually he would play solo against a team of people whenever there was an opportunity. He had not imagined that he could beat an entire team all by himself, he was simply playing these games to help his back problem. The energy it takes a solo player to cover the court for one game is like playing four games as part of a team. He began to realize after playing several hundred games that he could consistently beat teams in volleyball.
After watching the famed Globetrotters basketball team entertain a crowd and seeing the joy they brought to people, Bob came up with the idea of a one-man volleyball team. He began thinking that he could play exhibition games and share his message with students in public schools. He explains, “This way, I could demonstrate to people that they can beat the odds they face just as I was doing on the court.”
In 1985, Bob called some schools in an area where he was traveling for work and asked a local high school principal if he could come in and play exhibition games with teams of student athletes and a faculty team. One high school principal replied, "You’re going to play them all by yourself? I’m going to book you just to see that myself.” Eight schools booked Bob to play volleyball and speak during that week. He won every game that first week on the road.
Since then, Bob has traveled around the country often playing 40-65 volleyball games a week solo against a variety of teams, bringing the message that you can ‘Be a Winner by Beating the Odds’ to diverse audiences and groups including students, teachers, military veterans, prisoners at correctional facilities, the National Guard, and fans at sporting events, and more. He has played over 20,000 games and spoken to over 6 million people and counting. Bob and his wife and 3 girls live in Tennessee.