Bob Perrone was sent to take an HTML programming course in 1999. His boss figured that Perrone would use his newfound knowledge within the Housing and Urban Development office in Jacksonville, which he did.
But Perrone was a programmer by trade and was also motivated to blend his new skills with his love of Florida State athletics. And what he began was one of the best historical resources for ‘Noles young and old, from players and coaches to fans and writers: Nolefan.org.
He began with the key elements to start the site: For each game, he included the date, location, opponent and score.
“I started with the basic stuff on the three main sports: football, men’s basketball and baseball,” Perrone said. “During my lunch hour I would go to the Duval County library, go to newspapers and find information.”
The first resources were papers like the Florida Times-Union and Tallahassee Democrat. Perrone soon was combing through media guides and the Report to Boosters (published at the time in partnership with the Osceola staff) to add details to Nolefan.org.
Rob Wilson, then the FSU football sports information director and now an associate athletics director for communications, and men’s basketball sports information director Chuck Walsh were helpful in answering questions as well as opening up the department’s file room. It was there that the site began to grow from one that featured rows of dates and scores to one that was loaded with details, stories and photos.
“Bob’s work is the greatest volunteer work in the history of Florida State athletics,” said Doug Mannheimer, an FSU graduate and the keeper of the Sod Cemetery. “If you totally preserve the history of every athlete and every event we’ve ever held, that’s pretty monumental.”
Perrone was asked in 2007 to help with the FSU athletics hall of fame selection committee and agreed. But that also came with the responsibility of diving in to include all of FSU’s sports teams. The bar had been raised for Perrone, who was a high jumper at FSU in the 1970s, and he was up for the hours of work that came next. And perhaps it was fitting that, Perrone was enshrined in the FSU athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.
The site features a little bit of everything, from game results and box scores to top-10 lists to coaching records to old stories from the Tallahassee Democrat’s Bill McGrotha and Seminoles.com to team photos and media guide covers. There is also a comprehensive alphabetical index of FSU’s student-athletes: All-Americans in each sport have a page but then again so do walk-ons past and present. And, yes, there are more than 10,000 player pages.
Adding a single basketball game to Nolefan.org can take Perrone about 10 minutes. So one can imagine how many hours over the course of months and years he spent accumulating all of the information that is now easily at our fingertips.
“The site is here for sports information, for writers, for fans but especially for the athletes and their families,” Perrone said. “There have been a couple of times where grandchildren and children have sent me an email and asked about their relative. That’s especially rewarding.
“One time a football player had died and his grandchild sent me an email and didn’t even know how good a player he was. I was able to send the grandchild a couple of extra things. They really appreciated it. That’s one of the best things about doing this website.”
Perrone has poured all of the hours into the site and perhaps what’s remarkable about it, beyond its accuracy and ease of use, is that it’s free. He says the annual costs for Nolefan.org are minimal and he’s happy to keep it that way.
While Perrone doesn’t track how many monthly or annual visitors go to Nolefan.org but it has become a trusted resource for FSU fans who are taking a trip down memory lane or beat writers who are looking to verify stats before publishing a story.
“I can’t tell you how many athletes that I’ve known – they don’t know about it,” Mannheimer said. “I email them the link and they say, ‘Here’s my whole career.’
“I say, ‘Yeah, you can’t lie about it now.’ “