Though he has served as an inspiration for countless athletic administrators in his long and successful career, 2018 NASO Mel Narol Medallion recipient Bob Kanaby has never forgotten the people who influenced him and helped set him on his amazing career path.
The retired longtime executive director of the NFHS will be honored with the Medallion at the Celebrate Officiating Gala on July 31 at the NASO Summit in New Orleans.
“(What I learned) was ingrained in me by caring individuals, who through their example, their teachings, what they spoke about and how they lived their lives, really guided me throughout my entire life,” Kanaby said.
That included Mel Narol, who Kanaby said he knew personally.
“He was an outstanding role model to both sports and the officials who worked them,” Kanaby said. “He knew the things that were important to high school athletes. I’m just very honored and humbled by all this. Just a wonderful honor.”
Barry Mano, NASO president and founder, said Kanaby is eminently deserving of the award, thanking him for his imagination and forethought in reaching out to NASO many years ago.
“(Kanaby) extended his hand to NASO/Referee and to me personally, at a time when our organizations were viewed as on very different wavelengths,” Mano said. “Bob’s openness and respect came through very quickly and that caused me to take a fresh look at how we at NASO/Referee were conducting ourselves.
“Bob’s statesmanship led the way to our gaining wisdom in dealing with people. He did not have to extend that branch but thank goodness he did. Today, we have a flourishing partnership with the NFHS and wonderful working relationships with virtually every state association. We are in Bob’s debt.”
The Medallion recognizes an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to the betterment of NASO. These activities include organizational leadership, education, training, promotion of officiating and other events.
Kanaby was executive director of NFHS from 1993-2010. In the story announcing his retirement in 2010, he was honored for his promotion of the education of high school coaches and for his ongoing mission of protecting and encouraging a positive education-based culture in high school sports.
Under his watch, the NFHS increased its effort to monitor steroid use, as well as developing programs to maintain amateurism and preserving Friday nights for high school football.
Kanaby was and remains a major advocate for citizenship issues being a major part of high school activity programs, starting the Citizenship Through Sports Alliance while at NFHS.
He sees his Medallion as an extension of that train of thought.
“Sports have been a major blessing in my life,” he said. “To do what I was able to do as a coach and administrator and then take it to a national level. I’ve always thought the real lesson of sport is to develop athletes and help them become good citizens, hope they add to society and hope they pass that message onward in their day-to-day life. … Become the best people they can be.”
Kanaby remains active in retirement at his home in Hilton Head, S.C., still carrying on those same lessons of leadership and good citizenry.
“I’m involved in a local athletic club,” he said, “and we’ve developed a leadership club and a mentoring program, working with people from the local (college) campus.” n