Former players will always remember HannonPublished 1:53am Thursday, June 12, 2014
At the gates of heaven a huddle is forming. It’s B.J. Hannon and Ernie DeCourley planning to coach youth teams in the eternal world league.
If that were true, there would be a lot of former players tugging at Hannon’s wings and asking him to coach their team. Knowing Hannon, he’ll just coach them all.
Hannon — or B.J. as everyone called him — spent a lifetime coaching youth league football along with youth basketball, summer softball and his masterpiece, the St. Joseph Female Flyers’ basketball dynasty of the 1970s.
When Hannon died Tuesday, he wasn’t coaching but he was still involved in the Ironton youth football program. He couldn’t get away from it. Health problems slowed him but didn’t stop him.
When Vince Lombardi died, the NFL named the league’s championship trophy in his honor. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if the local youth league named their championship trophy in his honor.
In fact, the A-team trophy could bear his name and the B-team would have DeCourley’s name.
Hannon and DeCourley were synonymous with Ironton youth football. DeCourley — a member of the Morehead State Athletic Hall of Fame and former San Francisco 49er — teamed with Hannon for 40 years before his death.
Hannon continued his involvement with youth sports until he died at the age of 86.
There will be a lot of stories and memories floating around over the next few days as former players talk about their experiences with Hannon.
But more so than the memories will be the underlying and unwavering love that those players had for Hannon. And the reason for their love of Hannon was due to his sincere love for them.
Listing all the sports and accomplishments of Hannon would seem endless. Heck, even his early work was related to sports as the manager of the old Wilson Sporting Goods plant in Ironton that made A200 baseball gloves and Wilson footballs.
But the greatest list in regards to B.J. is the list of those lives he touched and the impact he made on each one.
B.J., Ernie. It’s game time.
Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.