What started as a bike trip between three faculty members at Springfield College has evolved into an annual journey that Sports Management and Recreation Department professors Kenneth Wall, Robert Accorsi and Kevin McAllister embark on each year.
This past fall, the three of them, along with Director of East Campus Ben Taylor, traveled approximately 90 miles and across two states, staying in dingy hotels and teasing Wall about his rather old Schwinn 10-speed bicycle.
To most, this may seem like a physically exerting challenge for men of their age, but to them, this is much more than just a bike trip. It is a symbol of the friendship that three professors have built throughout their years at Springfield.
Although nowadays the trio travels on a road, with a map and a plan, Wall, Accorsi and McAllister all took unique paths that eventually led them to Springfield College, bringing with them years worth of individual skills and passions.
Kenneth Wall’s career at Springfield College began in 1971 when he was a graduate student. He then joined the Peace Corps and worked in Venezuela doing various teaching and coaching jobs. Wall found his way back to Springfield College working as the director of the International Department, setting up exchange programs and overseeing the college’s study abroad program and international relations. In 2004, Wall was welcomed into the Sports Management and Recreation Department.
“When I arrived these two [Accorsi and McAllister] were instrumental in getting me through my first year in the department. Without their guidance I could not have done it,” said Wall.
Robert Accorsi graduated from Springfield College with his M.Ed in 1980. Then he went on to be the cycling and powerlifting coach for the International Games for the Disabled. In 1988, he was one of three team leaders overseeing the athletes and staff for the Paralympics. In 1990, Accorsi joined the SMR Department as a professor.
Unlike Wall or Accorsi, Kevin McAllister was not a student at Springfield College. McAllister spent eight years working for Marriott and was looking for a change in direction. He then was a coach at Boston University where he earned his doctorate.
“I was at BU when this job came up, and I knew I had to take advantage of this opportunity, and I haven’t looked back since,” said McAllister.
It almost seems like an act of fate that three men coming with such diverse backgrounds would end up working at the same small school in Western Massachusetts teaching for the same department.
Wall describes Accorsi and McAllister as wonderful mentors who really showed him the inner workings of the department.
However, what makes the relationship between these three professors so remarkable is the relationship they cherish outside the gates of Springfield College.
The demanding bike trips that they have taken over the years have become famous in the Springfield community. The cycling trips last multiple days and cover thousands of miles of various terrains.
“We were biking in the interior of Vermont when we rode past a farmer and he screamed at us, ‘Get a Job!’ and we replied back, ‘We have a job!’” the three men recited in unison.
Other trips have included biking the width of the state of Massachusetts, riding from the border of Canada to Northampton, and Rockland, Maine to Boston, Mass.
Ben Taylor, director of East Campus and a friend and biking companion of Wall, Accorsi and McAllister stated: “The biking trips are opportunities for them to refresh themselves, and the fact that they choose to do it together speaks volumes to how they cherish each other’s company.
Taylor also mentions that the men joke around a lot, but they also are constantly challenging one another and truly embody the Humanics Philosophy in their work and personal lives.
“It’s through the joking that they come up with their brilliant ideas,” said Taylor.
In addition to school and biking trips, the men play a crucial role in each other’s personal lives.
“These men [McAllister and Wall] have really supported me in all the charitable work that I do. I am very involved in the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and they are always willing to lend their support,” said Accorsi.
It is not hard to notice the admiration and importance of the companionship the professors share and how essential this relationship has become in each of their lives.
“We support each other’s families through the good times and the bad times,” said Wall.
Wall, McAllister, and Accorsi are in the process of putting another bike trip together to continue challenging what they have already accomplished and to simply take another journey together as friends.