Will "Bunky" Black, 77, hardly looked the part of the beefy athlete when he was a student at Bridgeton High School in the early 1950s. He tipped the scales at a slim 125 pounds - but what he lacked in size, he made up for in agility, elusiveness, coordination and work ethic.

With that combination of traits, Black excelled at everything he tried. The 1954 Bridgeton graduate was the school's last four-sport letterman, and he followed that success with decorated football, baseball, basketball and track careers at Trenton State College, now The College of New Jersey. After graduation, he spent nearly 40 years as a physical education teacher and coach, 28 of them at Bridgeton.

On May 11, Black was inducted into the All Sports Museum of Southern New Jersey in Bridgeton in recognition of all he has done for the area's athletic community.

"I'm humbled, but very happy about that," said Black, who lives in the English Creek section of Egg Harbor Township. "I had been inducted into (the Trenton State College and South Jersey Coaches Association) Halls of Fame, and to be honest, this was the one I really wanted all these years."

Colleagues, teammates, former athletes and friends packed the facility at the May 11 ceremony to pay their respects to one of the titans of South Jersey sports history.

Close friend Barry Semple, who played and went to school with Black from kindergarten through college, was one of three who gave speeches about Black at the ceremony. In his speech, Semple told a story of a game they made up as schoolboys called "tackle," the object of which was to bring down one kid who had been chosen to be "it." Unsurprisingly, he recalled later in a phone interview, Black dominated the game.

"It got our clothes pretty dirty," Semple said. "It was like fifth or sixth grade. With 15 kids chasing him, he was still eluding all of them."

Black's college roommate Joe Herzstein, Cumberland County Surrogate Doug Rainear and Black himself also gave speeches at the ceremony.

Black was joined for his induction by his wife, Annette, their two daughters, Elly Cordivari and Kim Hickman, and their many grandchildren.

While both she and her sister were no strangers to hearing tales of their father's athletic prowess, Cordivari said she enjoyed hearing Semple's anecdotes from Black's youth.

"After hearing (Semple) speak about my dad and how fast he was, what a great athlete he was, it was even more impressive, hearing someone other than my dad telling me," she said.

At 77 years old, Black may no longer be the multi-sport force he once was, but he still finds time to keep active. He frequently rides his bike around his community and keeps his strength by lifting weights, and while he's not about to go on tour, he's been known to break the 200 barrier at the bowling alley every once in a while.

Black said it was great getting the chance to celebrate the past with 80 of his closest family and friends.

"It was very emotional at times," he said "I looked out there when I was giving my little talk, and I guess the fact I had accomplished so much and was being honored this late, there were a lot of people out there with tears."

Contact Braden Campbell:


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