WILLIAM MICHAEL CERVENAK
Bill Cervenak is a legend in Vienna youth sports. He will be largely remembered for his role as Chairman of the Vienna Little League and his many years of expanding and improving that league, but he had many other accomplishments in his lifetime, including his involvement with VYI.
Bill grew up in Northern New Jersey and after starring in football, basketball and baseball in his home town left New Jersey to attend Bullis Prep in Potomac, Maryland, before going on to the University of Iowa where he played football and participated in the Rose Bowl in 1961. He was often kidded by his friends that surely he was in the era of leather football helmets, but he assured us that he had a single bar face mask, which many remember.
After graduation from college, and because of his staunch patriotism, Bill chose the Marines as a career option, ultimately receiving the Air Medal with two gold stars for meritorious service as an aerial observer during combat support missions in Viet Nam. After his Marine duty ended Bill joined the Central Intelligence Agency and added two more tours in Viet Nam. Bill moved to Vienna after living in several locations in Northern Virginia and after 1978 remained a resident of Vienna the rest of his life.
Bill served with the CIA for thirty-three years and retired as a Senior Intelligence Officer. His colleagues described him as a larger than life personality who always put his people first and he was greatly admired as a leader with a positive attitude that anyone would soldier with and follow.
After settling in Vienna, Bill coached all levels of Little League baseball teams, completing his tenure by coaching the “Twins” Majors team for many years. He is well known for developing his players on the field and in life, many of whom stayed in touch throughout high school and college and even contacted Bill when they entered their business careers. During his time with Little League Bill became Chairman of the Board and was inducted into the VLL Honor Roll. Bill was honored in 2015 by the Town of Vienna with a field named for him at Glyndon Park.
What is not remembered as much about Bill is that he was also instrumental in getting Vienna Youth Inc. (VYI) on its feet in the early years of its existence. VYI was founded by local families in 1971 when they realized that there was no proper system in place in Fairfax County to develop their kids for high school sports. Many families donated their own money and some even took second mortgages on their home to fund the equipment and fields needed to start the league. When Bill came back from his last overseas assignment with the CIA and decided to settle in Vienna , he was attracted to the opportunity to coach youth sports and he started his association with Little League and also with VYI, which was just getting off the ground.
Bill’s contributions to the development of Vienna Youth, Inc. are numerous. Bill coached a VYI youth football team for over 30 years, from the early 1980s through 2015, when he finally retired from that sport. During that period, he was VYI’s Commissioner of Football, a job that took many more hours of scheduling, purchasing and coordination among the coaches and teams in the league. Bill did not stop with coaching football as in the winter months he coached youth basketball for VYI. During his time with VYI, the sport of basketball grew so much that in addition to his role as a coach of a VYI high school team, Bill also became the VYI HS Basketball Commissioner and then became the overall Commissioner of Basketball for VYI, which at present encompasses twenty separate leagues of both boys and girls of all ages.
Bill not only coached VYI football and basketball in the late 1970s, he also became an active member of the Board of Directors shortly after joining the organization. Bill became the President of VYI and was Chairman of the VYI Board for many years. He laughingly recalled the occasion, after VYI had achieved some financial stability, where at one Board meeting in the early years of VYI he actually had to take out his personal checkbook and write a large check to make sure that VYI was not in default on outstanding bills.
During his tenure with VYI Bill, as President, prepared the organization for its large growth spurt starting in the early 2000s. His able leadership and ability to pick good people for the Board enabled the future development of the organization. For his many accomplishments and leadership in youth sports Bill was elected to VYI’s Hall of Fame in 2004.
Perhaps Bill’s finest moment in his long career with VYI was his idea to start the VYI College Scholarship program, which now gives 30-40 graduating high school seniors each year a scholarship grant to help them pay their college tuition. Since the program started in the early part of this century VYI has provided more than $500,000 in scholarships to high school graduates who participated in VYI sports. Bill presided for most of the years of the program as the emcee for the evening and his great wit and funny stories always charmed the audience of parents and friends.
Bill’s presence in the gym and on sports fields of all varieties will be sorely missed by his friends, fellow coaches and most of all his players.