So many stories – interesting, funny and sometimes sad – were told the night of Sept. 11 at the second-annual Arlington Sports Hall of Fame banquet.
The majority of the accounts regarded the Hall’s six new inductees, honored at a dinner with some 150 in attendance, including Arlington County Board Vice Chairman Libby Garvey, at the Knights of Columbus Hall. Hall of Fame president Jim Smith led the ceremony.
Inducted into the 61-year-old Hall were multi-sport Yorktown High School athletes John Crone and Bernie Kirchner; former Wakefield High boys basketball coach Maynard Haithcock (posthumously); Washington-Lee High football standout Reggie Harrison; former Yorktown wrestler and coach Milt Sherman; and senior triathlete, duathlete and coach Anne Viviani (posthumously). The half-dozen brings the total number of inductees to 50.
Many of the stories were about the various sports rivalries between Wakefield, W-L and Yorktown.
“We could not beat Yorktown, but we did not lose to Wakefield,” said Harrison, who won two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers. “I had a good time playing high-school football and loved to knock the stuffing out of people. There was no better place to grow up than in Arlington Virginia.”
Harrison (also know as Kamal Salaam-El) was introduced by Hall of Fame member and W-L alumni Eric Sievers, another former NFL player. Sievers put on a Washington-Lee football jersey during his introduction comments.
“Tonight we are on the same team,” Reggie. “You were the man to us. He was one of those players who could do everything. He was a stat-machine all by himself.”
Kirchner and Crone are considered two of the best athletes to ever attend Yorktown.
Kirchner thanked all the coaches in his life and his mother, at age 97 who attended, and his late father.
“I know my father is smiling ear-to-ear right now,” Kirchner said.
Crone, a Fairfax County police officers, was working and unable to attend. He was talked about by one of his former coaches, Tyrone Byrd, who discussed Crone’s many talents and high character.
John Depenbrock introduced Haithcock, explaining how the coach had the courage to take a big step toward social change. Before official integration, Haithcock’s Wakefield squad and the team from the all-black Hoffman-Boston High scrimmaged more than once in basketball, even though it technically was against state law at the time.
Sherman, an all-state grappler at Yorktown, then a high-school coach in North Carolina, led the D.H. Conley team to a state crown and two state runner-up finishes, spoke how he hoped his induction would be motivation for other wrestlers to be nominated.
In emotional and funny remarks from Donn Viviani, he spoke about the world-wide accomplishments of his late wife Anne, how she remained “nonjudgmental,” modest and humble and was the friend and loved by so many.
“There were people at her memorial service who didn’t know she ran and was an athlete, because she never talked about it,” Donn Viviani said. “She was smiling the entire time she was alive, and she died smiling.”
Anne Viviani’s name came up for nomination a number of years ago, but she was not interested. She told Donn they should “find somebody who deserves it.”
Retractable color banners of the 50 inductees, on hand at the banquet, also are on display in the lobby of Central Library until Sept. 21.
“Go visit and tell your friends about the display,” said Smith, who also encouraged nominations by visiting the Hall of Fame Website at www.arlsportshof.org.