Fate brought the ever popular Coach Vickery to Bennett HS. After finishing graduate school in Iowa, Byron was making his way East on his way back home to his native Wales, G. B. A stop-off to see Niagara Falls was a must. During his stopover in our area, Byron stopped at City Hall and inquired about a job. Byron was immediately put to work at school #6 and in 1963 came to Bennett. At Bennett Byron became a consistently successful educator. Byron’s teams won championships in cross-country(? Columbia Cups), swimming(4 Syracuse Cups) and tennis(3 Dr. Bapst trophies). Byron also had a short stint coaching his favorite sport, soccer. Nichols School benefited from Byron’s expertise, with a 33 wins, no losses in the early 60’s.
The highlight of this brilliant coaching resume’ has to be the year 1978. Byron’s teams went undefeated in all three of his sports, winning the boys and gins championships in cross country, swimming and tennis, surely any coaches dream.
The star athletes Coach Vickery developed are too numerous to mention here. It must be noted however, that Byron was the first coach to use females on a boys varsity team. Byron helped “revolutionize” Buffalo city sports when Kathy McCarthy and Lydia Manuel swam on the varsity swim team in 1971.
Bruce had an outstanding career recoerd in tennis at Bennett H.S. from 1961 – 1964, registering 43 wins, and only 1 loss. Bruce played 2nd singles as a freshman, and at 1st singles the rest of his career. Bruce was first team All-High in his freshman, junior and senior years, losing his one match as a sophomore. Bruce was the first freshman to be named to 1st team Al-High in the city. Bruce was the captain of the tennis team in his junior and senior years, and was named “Outstanding Male athlete” at Bennett in 1964.
Bruces’ athletic skills were not limited to tennis. He was youth speed skating champion in city and county competition as a 12 and 13 year old.Bruce was also highly successful in MUNY tennis and squash competition during his years in Buffalo.
Upon graduation, Bruce matriculated at Cornell U., where he played varsity tennis and squash. Bruce graduated from Cornell in 1969 with a degree in Engineering. Later worked as an engineer for the United States Government on our Radar Defense Systems. Currently resides in Massachusettes.
Junie Hemphill went on to star in a highly successful NAIA basketball program at Cumberland (KY) College. He also became a Physical Education teacher and restauranteur in Memphis, TN.
Vory Billups, who also played two years of varsity tennis at Bennett, went on to St. Bonaventure U. on a basketball scholarship, after being named 8th team All New York State at the center position. Unfortunately, a medical condition stopped Vory’s college basketball career before it ever got started. After graduation from St. Bona., Vory became a college admissions recruiter, and is presently the Director of Admissions of Atlanta Tech College. Vory is also involved in charity work for young student athletes.
Herb was All-High in tennis at Bennett during his junior and senior years. When he received All-High status at 2nd singles in 1955 he was arguably part of the greatest high school tennis teams in the history of Western New York competition. Each of the seven players on that team were All-High selections, as the team went undefeated in league play. Members of that team including Johnston Jr. went on to win over 30 city tennis titles in different divisions.
Although Johnston Jr. was recognized as an outstanding player, he was equally renowned for becoming the first player of note to hit a two-handed backhand in WNY. With this deadly shot he was able to produce uncanny winners and angles as he frustrated many opponents with this deadly weapon.
Johnston went on to star at Cornell University in singles and doubles and was a three time winner in the Men’s Muny Doubles competition.
A lawyer by profession he was also a Buffalo City Court Judge and held many prestigious positions in city government
Elmer Rosenthal, affectionately known as “Rosie” to his legion of students and athletes, came to Buffalo in the 1920’s after attending college in Indiana. He entered Bennett as a young educator, and established a career that spanned from the early 1930’s to 1964. Elmer coached tennis early in his career, then succeeded Lou Montgomery as the Tigers track and Cross Country coach.
A man of superb character and principle, Rosenthal served as an excellent role model for all Bennettonians over the course of his long career. His teams found glory often, and his numerous championship squads of both harrier and thin dads were testimony to his coaching prowess. His less talented teams received the same caring and devoted coaching he gave to his championship teams. Rosie served Bennett well as a teacher, coach and colleague, and will always be remembered favorably by those fortunate enough to have known him.