With the death of Vernon Seibert on Jan. 26 after a battle with lymphoma, the county lost one of the true great athletes, coaches and teachers of young people that we have ever had here.
He was, in fact, one of a disappearing breed. Early on in a life that spanned 88 years, he was a standout two-way football player and member of the basketball team at the University of Maryland. He played in the 1948 Gator Bowl against the University of Georgia and then returned to Maryland as the program's defensive coordinator under coach Jim Tatum after graduation.
He was in that position when Maryland won the National Championship in 1953.
In 1964, he became a physical education instructor and athletic director at Glenelg High School and continued there until retiring in 1986. While at Glenelg, he coached football, wrestling, golf, basketball and baseball.
He was the first and only coach that I knew who could run two varsity sports programs in one gym at the same time. He would stand between the two teams, barking out instructions in both directions.
I first met "Coach" shortly after I became sports editor of the Columbia Flier in 1971 and I was doing my initial tour of the schools to meet the athletic directors and coaches. I was told that Vernon Seibert was tough and, admittedly, I was a little intimidated at first. But he wasn't what I expected.
He was reserved, had a wry sense of humor and explained to me that his job as a coach and teacher was to prepare his athletes for each and every game, while also preparing them for life after sport. He impressed me.
He demanded the best from his players, but at the same time gave his best to them. His teams often didn't have a great deal of talent, but they were always well prepared. He was "a player's coach."
He maintained a very close relationship with his alma mater right up until the time of his death. At his viewing last week, the films of several Maryland football games were on display. He made numerous appearances at Maryland functions and, in 2011, was designated as honorary captain during the Terrapins game against West Virginia.
He excelled in other area as well. In 1977, he was inducted into the Maryland fast-pitch Hall of Fame. In his later years, he could often be found with a golf club in his hands. Only his declining health stopped him from being out on the course.
The ultimate competitor, when the doctors told him of his low survival chances against cancer, he vowed to give it his best shot. And he battled until the very end.
The likes of coach Vernon Seibert may never be seen here again. How fortunate we all were to have him as long as we did. May he rest in peace.
Ravens win Super Bowl
Talk about an exciting Super Bowl. This one was a barn-burner and fortunately the Baltimore Ravens had enough in the tank to win 34-31 against an excellent San Francisco team.
I must admit that I had doubts in the second half when the 49ers came on like gangbusters, but the Ravens found a way, as they have all season. Even coming into the year, I thought they were destined to be an 8-8 team at best. The team proved me and a lot of other people wrong, though.
It only goes to show that the team that wins it all is usually the team that comes in the healthiest and the hottest. Go Ravens.