Remembering Bill Sylvester, Scecina’s first athletic director and football coach

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Photo of football coach Bill Sylvester

Bill Sylvester died March 30, 2022. He was 93.

By George Newhart ‘60
Chair, Scecina Board of Directors

An unassuming man, Bill Sylvester, who died March 30, spoke infrequently, but, when he did, everyone listened. The Scecina Community had the great privilege of having Bill Sylvester in our midst for six years as the school’s first athletic director and head varsity football coach. Bill’s Crusaders, always formidable competitors, won the 1956 football City Championship during the first year that Scecina had all four classes – freshmen through seniors.

Bill died March 30, 2022, at age 93.

Among his many academic and athletic contributions, and in collaboration with Scecina’s then-music director Sam Rhinesmith, Bill wrote, composed, and produced Scecina’s school song and fight song. Talk about leaving a legacy!

“I was always impressed by Bill’s positivity, humor, memory, and commitment to his family,” said Scecina President Joe Therber. “He was a pillar in the Church and community.”

In those early Scecina years, Bill was instrumental in recruiting and developing outstanding faculty and staff, including revered figures such as Bill Kuntz, Sr., Tom O’Brien, Ray Riley, and Joe Sexson.

After moving on from Scecina, Bill remained close to the school for the rest of his life and frequently attended class reunions and get-togethers, particularly those involving the early Scecina classes.

A few years after leaving Scecina, Bill succeeded the legendary Tony Hinkle as head football coach and then-athletic director at Butler University, where he had been a four-year starting quarterback. He was inducted into the Butler Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993.

“I feel fortunate to be one of those who were blessed to play for him and to learn how to live life in a way that helps others. Coach had a profound influence over the way I have lived my life,” said Scecina head football coach Ott Hurrle, who played for Bill at Butler.

Scecina students of the early years, or those of us who have become known as the “Golden Crusaders,” were personally connected to Bill, whether as athletes or physical education or driver education students. The term “role model” had not come into vogue in the late 1950s or early ‘60s, but Bill Sylvester was the exact epitome of this phrase. If anyone ever had to look for an example of the right thing to do, or the proper method by which to conduct oneself, one only need watch Bill Sylvester. And then of course, “give that little extra.”

I always enjoyed running into Bill. As a Butler graduate, I also had the opportunity to see him on occasion around Hinkle Fieldhouse. Bill was frequently a special guest at our class reunions. In addition, my classmates and I always knew that Bill would be present at Scecina alums’ funerals.

So, the Scecina Community says “Goodbye” to a devoted Catholic parishioner and family man; a great teacher, coach and administrator; a United States Marine; a courageous leader; a kind, generous and genuine person; and a true and loyal Scecina Crusader.

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