Bob Hyland, a former NFL player from White Plains, is leading a fundraising campaign with attorney Bill Plunkett to replace the two sports fields at their alma mater, Archbishop Stepinac High School, with new turf fields. They are seeking to raise $1.9 million to make the fields more durable for practices and games. The school hopes to start construction in May 2011, and have the fields available for play that September. Hyland, a star on the Stepinac football team, played for the New York Giants in the 1970s and owns the local Sports Page Pub.
Q: What memories do you have of playing at Stepinac?
A: Stepinac was an important part of our family. I became familiar with the school when I was very young, going to the football games when I was 9, 10 years old. My brother played there his senior year. Even though the school was young, it developed a tradition very quickly where they had very good football teams. I went to Stepinac starting in 1959. I played center my sophomore and junior year, and, in my senior year I played guard and defensive tackle. I never left the field. The thing that really shaped my memories were the people I went to school with and played with. We had some really terrific people there, some of whom I still keep in touch with.
Q: Why did you decide to help spearhead this drive?
A: I'm very proud of Stepinac and the young men that are graduating from the school. A Stepinac graduate is really equipped to do a lot for our communities and society in general. The school emphasizes ethics and morals and a lot of other things that are unique to religious schools. We're all the beneficiaries. Bill Plunkett and myself wanted to make sure Stepinac is a viable, strong institution for many years to come. I think the way to do that is to make sure its facilities are second to none.
Q: What are your feelings about replacing the grass field you played on, with turf?
A: We used to call our offense, 'Three yards and a cloud of dust.' I have fond memories of that field, but it's something that needs replacement now. We have to get into the 21st century. Turf is safer. After the initial cost, it's much more economical.
Q: What's your strategy for raising the money?
A: We're going to try to have one-on-one meetings with our graduates as well as people in the community who have some warm feelings about Stepinac.
We're looking for some large donations, but the more people we get involved the better. We're hoping our alums are going to be part of this endeavor.
Q: Any plans to toss a football around on the new field?
A: I would like to get out there for the inaugural game, that's for sure. I've had two hips replaced. Fortunately, the humane society won't let me play anymore.
We're hoping to be able to kick it off on Sept. 11 of 2011. It would be the 10th anniversary of 9/11. A fellow that played for Stepinac and was also a coach there for many years, a friend of mine, and also a former employee of the Sports Page, Joe Riverso, died on 9/11. He worked at Cantor Fitzgerald. None of us have forgotten him. We feel it would be a great tribute.
From an interview by staff writer Shawn Cohen.