Kenwood honors its past with first Hall inductions

October 26, 2007|By MILTON KENT

Jack Harron didn't set out to be a star all those years ago as a three-sport athlete at Kenwood in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

For Harron, the rewards of being a member of the Bluebirds soccer, basketball and baseball teams were being a part of something larger than himself, intangibles that later served him well in a 30-year Army career.

"The camaraderie and the fellowship we had with the student body and the opportunities to participate in athletics frankly taught me the principles that I've lived by for most of my life," said Harron, who retired as a colonel in 1983.

That's precisely the spirit Kenwood athletic director Derek Maki was looking for when he got the idea to create a Hall of Fame to commemorate the achievements of the 75-year-old school's athletes. The first class of inductees will be honored tonight at halftime of the football game against Catonsville, which marks Kenwood's homecoming.

Maki, who attended Poly and coached and taught at Patterson, each of which has an athletic Hall of Fame, felt the Kenwood program, which has won seven state championships in the past 51 years, and its athletes should be similarly celebrated.

The first challenge for Maki was to get a sense of the school's sports history because there was little documentation to mark it. From there, he had banners created to mark the school's county, regional and state titles, then Maki convened a group of former coaches to nominate former Kenwood athletes.

They whittled a list of about 75 Kenwood graduates, all of whom had been out of school for at least five years, to the 13 who form the first class of inductees.

"This lets students who are there now see the history of the school and have some of these people maybe serve as role models," said Maki, who has been athletic director at Kenwood for seven years.

There's no shortage of role-model material in the group, four of whom returned to teach and coach at Kenwood.

Class of 1952 graduate William Brown, a captain of two undefeated basketball teams, was a Rhodes Scholar nominee when he attended Loyola College. Charles Messenger, a 1964 graduate, had the nation's second-fastest schoolboy 2-mile time at a meet at Madison Square Garden in 1964 and already is a member of three halls of fame.

The youngest inductee is Overlea athletic director Bruce Malinowski, a 1979 graduate, who played three sports and was a dominant wrestler. Malinowski was a two-time state champion and three-time Sun All-Metro wrestler before going on to Missouri, where he was a two-time national qualifier and a member of the Big Ten Conference All-Academic team.

Evelyn Brandenburg Ford's time at Kenwood was marked by broken fingers, twisted ankles, a broken nose and a host of memories.

"We had a lot of camaraderie with our team," said Ford, who played field hockey, basketball and softball before graduating in 1954. "We were all good friends as well as being on the same team. We played together, we visited with each other and did social events with each other, so it wasn't that we played and went home. We became good friends."

Ford, who scored 60 points in a basketball game against Franklin, went on to play sports at what is now Fairmont State University in West Virginia. She played for the love of athletics at a time long before Title IX was enacted to provide better athletic and educational opportunities for girls.

"We were always encouraged to do that kind of thing and to do what we liked. And that's what we liked," said Ford, a former Kenwood teacher.

Harron, who was voted class president and best male athlete his senior year, went on to serve in Korea and Vietnam before making his home near Fort Benning, Ga.

And though playing for Kenwood was another life, and actually another building ago, as the current location on Stemmers Run Road didn't exist when he was there, his joy at being a Bluebird athlete has never faded.

"It [the experience] has just been tremendous for me," said Harron. "You learn to give it everything you've got, and when you think you can't go further, you pick it up and go another mile. I don't care what kind of business you want to go into, those are all the attributes that are going to make you successful in anything you want to do."

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