SKILLMAN, NJ – Roger Crawford, alumnus of the Loyola Marymount University Class of 1982, has received the highest honor bestowed by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association as he was presented with the 2013 ITA Achievement Award on Friday, Sept. 6, at the ITHF Board of Directors Meeting at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York. The ceremony was hosted by the International Tennis Hall of Fame (ITHF) and presented by Rolex Watch U.S.A.
Stan Smith, President of the ITHF, presented the award along with David A Benjamin, ITA Executive Director, and Stewart Wicht, President and CEO of Rolex Watch U.S.A., who presented a distinctive engraved Rolex timepiece to Crawford. In addition to this special gift, Roger and his wife were invited to watch a session of the 2013 U.S. Open from the President’s Box, courtesy of the USTA. Crawford was also recognized during the ITHF’s Legends Ball on Friday evening. The Loyola Marymount University varsity tennis program will also receive a $1,000 donation from the ITA in Crawford’s honor.
Now in its 20th year, the ITA Achievement Award pays tribute each year to past participants in the world of varsity tennis who have achieved excellence in their chosen careers. The spirit of the award honors both professional success and contributions to society made either as a direct result of a career or through humanitarian efforts.
Crawford is currently a highly sought-after speaker and a best-selling author, who has written three books encouraging people to overcome obstacles and defy odds. He was born with ectrodactylism, a rare birth defect that affects all four of his limbs. Doctors told his parents that Crawford would not be able to walk or perform simple tasks, but he became the first and only athlete with four impaired limbs to compete in an NCAA Division I sport.
After graduating from Loyola Marymount University with a B.A. in Communications and a 22-11 overall record, Crawford became the first multi-impaired athlete to be certified by the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA). He also served as a head high school tennis coach and tennis pro at Crow Canyon Country Club before embarking on a career of motivational speaking.
Crawford has gone from center court to center stage, turning the lessons he learned and experiences that he has had into a successful career as a motivational speaker. He is one of less than 200 professional speakers to be honored by the National Speakers Association with their Council of Peers Award for Excellence and was inducted into the Speaker Hall of Fame. He makes hundreds of speeches a year to top corporations and organizations all over the world such as 3M, American Airlines, AT&T, Bank of America, Citibank, Exxon, IBM, and Merrill Lynch. He has also been a featured speaker for over 1,700 school district in-services and conferences, delivering the powerful message that educators make a difference in teaching students to exceed their perceived potential. One of his career highlights was being invited to visit Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC, speaking to injured soldiers recently returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Crawford’s written publications include “Playing from the Heart,” “How High Can You Bounce?” and “THINK AGAIN!” In addition, his life story has been included in, “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” and was the basis for the Emmy Award-winning movie entitled “In a New Light.” He has been featured on Larry King Live, Good Morning America and CNBC, while also profiled in many publications such as USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Men’s Fitness and Tennis Magazine.
His honors include being inducted into the Loyola Marymount Athletic Hall of Fame and National Hall of Fame for Persons with Disabilities. Sports Illustrated called Crawford “one of the most accomplished physically challenged athletes in the world.” He is also a member of the Speakers Roundtable, comprised of 20 distinguished speakers.
Roger is married to Kathryn, whom he met in junior high school. They have four children: Therese, Christopher, Monica, and Alexa.