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Vienna Little League

Remembering Bill Cervenak (1939-2020)

Bill Cervenak was the long-time Chairman of Vienna Little League (VLL).

Coach Cervenak, who passed away in 2020,  did much more than grow Vienna Little League into the hometown organization thousands of us have known and loved. He tirelessly gave of himself to our community year-round for three decades, acting as basketball commissioner and football coach when he was not a fixture at Yeonas Park.  

Bill was born on July 24, 1939 in Jersey City, New Jersey. His youth was filled with sports, as he played football, basketball, volleyball, and ran track.  He also played baseball, as a pitcher and catcher, though ironically was never a member of Little League Baseball—it was not chartered in Jersey City until 1952, the year Bill turned 13. In high school, he was named to New Jersey’s All County Basketball Team.

His athleticism did not go unnoticed, as the University of Iowa (then called the State University of Iowa) offered Bill a full scholarship to play defensive end for the Hawkeyes football team. Given his modest upbringing, this enormous opportunity was not lost on Bill, who at age 17 pledged to give back. “I knew exactly how lucky I was,” he said.  

Bill enjoyed his time on the field and in the classroom at Iowa and received his B.A. in 1962. After school, Bill joined the United States Marine Corps. Over a three and half year period, he served in San Diego, Okinawa, and Vietnam. In 1964, during a 2,000-Marine parade and review by Brigadier General Sidney S. McMath, First Lieutenant Cervenak was presented the Air Medal with two Gold Stars for “meritorious achievements as an aerial observer during combat support missions in the Republic of Vietnam against insurgent communist guerrilla forces during the period of February 7th to April 17, 1964.”  The three awards of the Air Medal were for his actions in 80 aerial missions. 

Following the Marine Corps, Bill returned to New Jersey for a short stint as a salesman for a pharmaceutical company now known as Merck & Co.  During that time, he applied for his security clearances with the U.S. Department of State, and applied to work for several Federal agencies, including the CIA.

The CIA called Bill to service and, for 33 years until his retirement in 1999, his assignments took him to countries all over the world. In between international trips, Bill took up residence in Oakton, Virginia.  There he further pursued his promise to “give back” through volunteer positions with several Vienna youth sports organizations.

In the early 1980s, he began to coach basketball for Vienna Youth Inc (VYI). He has served as the boys’ High School Commissioner for the past seven years, and he continues to coach today.  Later in the 80s, Bill began coaching for VYI football and only recently gave up his long-time position as head coach. Bill served on the VYI Board for more than 20 years, and was inducted into the VYI Hall of Fame in 2006. 

Bill joined  VLL as a coach for the Major Twins in 1992, and became the Twins’ manager in 1995.  In 2000, he was elected the Chairman of VLL, which is proud of its 1,000-player membership each spring season. Just one example of Bill’s leadership and generosity is the VLL 12 Year Old Banquet, which he instated many years ago to enable VLL players and family to pause to celebrate life lessons learned and their many personal accomplishments during their little league careers. In 2007, he was inducted into the VLL Honor Roll. 
On April 10, 2015, the Town of Vienna and VLL honored Bill by naming the baseball field at Glyndon Park - the "Bill Cervenak Field." Today, players, coaches and community members fondly refer to it as "Cerv." 

The Importance of Glyndon Park to Vienna Little League
by Brian Smith, League Historian

Vienna Little League can trace its origins to the Vienna League which was launched at Glyndon Street Park (now called Glyndon Park) on June 12, 1953. When the Lions Club leased part of Glyndon Park from the Town, the League found a place to play baseball. But first a field had to be built. So in 1954, a ball field at Glyndon Park was built through the efforts of Lions club members and parents. Loads of dirt were trucked in to fill in the old town dump so that a field could be built for the League. Dugouts, a backstop, and fence were also constructed that same year. In 1955, those dugouts were rebuilt through the assistance of local companies. In 1956, Vienna Lions Club members and volunteers constructed a concession stand and the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the League ran it (and it remained in operation on the books until at least 1999). 

However, the League’s membership soon became too big to just play on just one field. Faced with the realization in January 1958 that it was unable to gain approval to expand its facilities at Glyndon Park, the League was forced to explore other options for its growth such as acquiring land sufficient for two or three fields for the sole use of the League. This is how the Yeonas Family came to the rescue of the League and why we now have Yeonas Park for our kids to enjoy and play baseball. However, Glyndon Park never left the hearts and minds of the League. It just was not developed into a premium field until now!

In need of turf field access particularly because weather continuously impacts our players’ use of grass-surface field space during both the spring and fall seasons, the League entered into a partnership with the Town in 2014 to build a new field at Glyndon Park. Built for use this Spring 2015 season, this new field, named Bill Cervenak Field, has a new synthetic turf playing surface with state-of-the-art LED lighting, and a 200-foot fence line so all our teams can play games on it. The dugouts provided by the Staat family in 2011 are also part of this field. Glyndon Park will always be a part of the League’s future and we are extremely thankful to the Town for its role and support in bringing the field at Glyndon Park from what was once a sandlot to a modern, state-of-the-art, premium field for present and future Vienna Little Leaguers to enjoy.

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