By Jeremy Stafford - firstname.lastname@example.org
The recent class of coaches, athletes and contributors inducted into the Virginia High School League Hall of Fame comprises two local coaches, well established in the same sport, who are admittedly ecstatic to rub elbows with one of the most established coaches in Virginia.
In late May, the VHSL announced that Clarke County cross country coach Nancy Specht, and former Stonewall Jackson cross country coach and athletic director John Wymer, will be part of the 21st class inducted into its Hall of Fame, eight years following the induction of Strasburg legend Glenn Proctor.
Proctor coached football at Strasburg for 44 years, was an athletic director there for 42 years, and now coaches the Rams' track and field team.
"Glenn [is someone] who we all look up to as being the most revered coach," Specht said. "It's quite an honor to be mentioned in the same breath as Glenn Proctor."
Wymer, a Strasburg graduate in 1967, was an athlete under Proctor.
"He kinda ... led me down toward teaching and coaching," Wymer said. "I went to the same college he graduated from, and I coached one year of JV football with him.
"After I moved to Stonewall we competed against him in football and track, and when I became athletic director I kinda followed in his footsteps -- he's been like another father to me all this time."
Specht and Wymer both learned of their induction two or three weeks ago, Specht by phone, Wymer through the mail. The induction dinner will be held in Charlottesville on Oct. 18.
Specht, who is also an assistant coach for the Clarke County track team, began coaching the Eagles' cross country team in 1996, and has since led Clarke County to 10 Group A cross country championships, the most memorable one, for Specht, coming in 2004.
Clarke County won four state titles that year, with the boys and girls both winning the team meets, and Simon Biddle-Snead and Danielle Moyer each winning individual titles.
"That was the group that kinda started it all," Specht said. "It doesn't get any better than that. You've heard of the triple play -- that was a quadruple play.
"That group knocked the door down and said, 'Clarke County's for real, and we're gonna be here for a while.'"
Wymer had a tougher time pinpointing which of his seven VHSL titles was most memorable. Certainly there was the 1985 girls team, which won the first-ever Group A state championship, and there was his 1989 team, which was the first to win both the boys and girls state title. He also mentioned the three consecutive titles his boys won during the 1989-91 seasons.
"Every year was a great accomplishment, for us and the kids," Wymer said. "And I've been blessed with great kids who worked hard, and I had great help from assistant coaches."
In fact, both Hall of Fame coaches attributed their own success to the athletes they coached. Coaching is what gets a cross country program started, Specht said, but it's the athletes, keeping up with workouts in the offseason, running even when coaches can't keep tabs, who keep the program strong.
"You can't be everywhere at once," she said, "but it's sensational to have kids who are that dedicated."