For years, as a youth coach and administrator of multiple sports, Bill Cervenak was a pillar in the Vienna community, touching hundreds of lives.
More than a coach, though, Cervenak was maybe most regarded as a mentor who instilled the proper messages in his young players – leaving lasting impressions.
Cervenak died in recent days from various health issues. He was 80.
Lynn Jacquez had sons play for Cervenak, and she worked with him in different positions for many years with Vienna Little League.
“He was an incredible man,” Jacquez said. “I would walk through water for Bill. What he gave boys and girls most was the right perspective about things.”
Cervenak was probably best known for his involvement with Vienna Little League. He joined the baseball league as a coach in 1992, becoming the league’s chairman in 2000, a position he held at the time of his death. Cervenak also was the longtime manager of the Majors Twins, as well as managing and coaching various all-star teams.
The Vienna Little League field at Glyndon Park is named after Cervenak, where flowers and a memorial in his memory have been collecting.
Cervenak initiated a Vienna Little League banquet for 12-year-olds who were aging out of the league.
Cervenak also coached youth basketball and football.
Bo Kuhblank, a Madison High School athlete, was a standout player for Cervenak’s Little League Twins, as well as on three of his Little League all-star teams.
“I was terrified when I first met him,” Kuhblank said. “He was tough and demanding, he knew the game, and told you straight up the way it was. But he was so original and funny with great sarcasm. He was the most fun and it was so worth it to play for him.”
Kublank’s father, Chris, coached under Cervenak with the Twins.
“Bill was the most genuine guy I knew,” Chris Kuhblank said. “He had many great messages for kids and adults too, and he stuck to his thought process no matter what, and no matter the situation. That is one relationship I will always cherish.”
Gena Kuhblank, Bo’s mother, was once appointed team mom by Cervenak for his Twins and all-star teams.
“There was no saying ‘no’ to Bill,” Gena Kuhblank said.
As an example of Cervenak’s sarcasm, Gena Kuhblank told the story when how he announced out loud in the stands that he was going to draft Bo with the number one pick, despite his parents.
“He was really such a nice gentle giant,” Gena Kuhblank said.
Cervenak was popular with his players. Some would shovel snow at his townhouse and approach him in restaurants to shake his hand.
Madison High School head baseball coach Mark Gjormand had a long friendship with Cervenak, regularly meeting once a month on Saturday mornings for breakfast to talk about local baseball.
“Bill Cervenak was an icon to so many in the Town of Vienna,” Gjormand said. “He was a valuable part of so many kids’ lives, doing his part to mold them into young men and adults, sometimes with a bark, but always with a laugh. He always told them, ‘just go have fun.’”
Al DeFazio coached with and served on the Vienna Little League board with Cervenak.
“Bill was precisely what kids need – consistent, predictable, enthusiastic and a loud taskmaster who wanted just a little more from them than they might have felt like giving after a long day at school.”
Frank Blackstone, another board member with Cervenak, said: “He had a huge soft spot, and he definitely had a life of service. Unbelievable.”
In 2006, Cervenak was inducted into the Vienna Youth Inc.’s Hall of Fame.
Cervenak was born in Jersey City, N.J. As a youth he played baseball, football, basketball, volleyball and ran track. In high school, he was named all-county in basketball.
In college, Cervenak played football at the University of Iowa.
After college, he served in the United States Marine Corps, then later worked at the Central Intelligence Agency for 33 years.