Paul Kenny (FLA, USA – from the Hall of Fame writeup by Lui Tasini and the HoF committee)
There is a word that always bounces in the discussions of freestylers, a way of saying, of feeling, a fixed point: family. Freestylers feel part of a family, they feel at home with each other and this makes them feel good.
Paul, of this multifaceted, absurd, incredible family is one of the fathers. One of those who fight, on a daily basis, to give continuity and a sense of belonging, who helps and keeps us close, one of those who embrace every child, from Israel to Colombia, from Europe to Africa. Paul is always there.
However, it is not enough to be a great player, or a fantastic multiple champion; It’s not enough to be a sports figurehead, or the director of incredible freestyle performances and Paul is all of that in our sport. He is a great freestyler, with a unique and spectacular style, a champion in competition, the tipping man, the one who takes 10 Frisbees together. But all this is not enough to be remembered as great. There must be something else, there must be more.
There must be that something that makes it indispensable and special. And Paul has it. Because Paul is a glue. He is the one who holds us together, who makes us feel part of something
important, and in this way makes each of us better. And if in one hand what he gave to Frisbee as a discipline is for me contained in the words that my eight-year-old son said to his father Clay: “I’m sorry dad, but if I become a freestyler one day, I hope to be like Paul”, on the other hand how much Paul gave and he is giving to Frisbee as a sport and movement is beyond, is more and even more.
Because Paul is Paul: he is freestyle, friendship, home.
He is the beautiful sound of the word family.
-Lui Tasini (ITA)
Few people have impacted Freestyle play as much as the remarkable Paul Kenny. He first started playing disc in the late 1970’s at Eckerd College in Florida. That early inspiration would take time to manifest itself. But slowly and most certainly, it would emerge, and the sport would be forever changed.
Moving from Boston, MA back to Florida Paul connected with the local Frisbee scene there. Local legends such as Lawrence Frederick, Dan Berman and later Ted Oberhaus, Bob “Friz” Coleman and Carlos “Pipo” Lopez would drive his inspiration off the charts. As his skills improved, he began competing in Freestyle in 1993. He would apply sharp focus, immense energy, and quirky innovation to craft a unique and distinct style all his own. Fueled by Coleman’s ‘Nueron’s’ series, Paul would develop a full repertoire of turnover moves. He would also create a rapid tightly controlled ‘Machine Gun’ tipping style. But his signature move would become his use of multiple discs, often ending a sequence with 6 discs or more caught with the same hand. As Paul’s confidence grew, so did his legend.
Enter the Euro-wave of new Freestylers. The seminal event on the Northeast coast of Italy known as Paganello would serve as Paul’s launching pad to fame. The event would completely transform Freestyle play globally, exposing the sport to literally thousands of young Europeans. The new wave of energy from the event would produce an abundance of new Freestylers from more than a dozen countries. In time Paul would win nine Paganello titles. His trophy tally from Major events is equally impressive: 10 Major wins (6 FPA Co-op, 1 FPA Pairs, 1 FPA Mixed, 2 WFDF’s), 6 Frisbeers (Prague, CZ), 4 AFO’s (USA) along with 2 Player of the Years, Decade Award acknowledgments for Most Innovative (2000’s), and Most Influential (2010’s). On top of that is his two stints as the President of the Freestyle Players Association, his long run as Tournament Director of the Jammers Event.
In all, it all adds up to one of the most important influences of Freestyle play in the history of Freestyle.. As former Paganello Freestyle Event Director Lui Tasini noted; “Paul is the Glue, he is the one who holds us all together. He has held us together by example and by his efforts”. Paul’s influence of Freestyle is an effort for the ages.