BEHS honors Runey and Manning families with dedication of new tennis center, courts
Bishop England High School staff, current students and alumnae came together on Sunday, April 29 to honor Michael L. Runey, III and Monsignor John L. Manning with the dedication ceremony of the brand new tennis center and courts on the school’s campus.
“[Runey] gave a lot for this court, so we thought it was important to recognize him with the Michael L. Runey, III, Tennis Center,” said Principal for BEHS Patrick Finneran. “We also thought it was important to tie the old with the new…We wanted to keep the name of the tennis courts that were downtown. It’s the Michael L Runey, III Tennis Center, home of the Monsignor John L. Manning Tennis Courts. It’s important for us to tie both together—the Runey and Manning family. The BE family knows those names.”
Both Manning and Runey were graduates of BEHS, though many years apart. Manning, who graduated in the second ever graduating class in 1918, went on to be a longstanding member of the BE faculty from 1933 to 1959 and even served as Rector during the last 12 years.
“It was very important to Father John, that our kids knew what was expected of them as Catholic high school students,” said Mary Ann Tucker, who was representing the Manning family at the dedication ceremony. “He also placed great importance on athleticism. That was why the only two athletic facilities that we had downtown were named after him.”
Runey, who was the third generation from his family to attend BEHS, graduated with the class of ’64. Once he caught word that the high school was attempting to build courts on the campus, he immediately jumped on board, explained Kelly Duffy, director of Alumnae Relations for BEHS.
“Initially he was a court sponsor but when he learned we had quite a bit left to raise he contributed even more,” said Duffy. “Michael was a huge supporter of BE and believed so strongly in what we stand for. He and his family represent all that is good at BE.”
Although Runey was unable to see the center be named after him, as he passed last February from cancer, both his son Michael and daughter Melissa explained that he would be honored to be a part of BE’s very own tennis facility.
“To have this facility named after my dad is truly an honor and I know that he is up in heaven and so happy and proud of these courts,” said Michael. “Dad never wanted attention or recognition and he’d be the first to tell you that this honor should go to someone way more deserving or important than him…Today isn’t about dad or all the other donors of this wonderful facility. It’s about Bishop England and the current members of the BE Tennis Team and all the future members.”
“He would be overjoyed to see everybody here,” Melissa added. “I hope that he is looking down and smiling on all of you guys for coming out and supporting this great cause.”
For tennis head coach Kristin Fleming Arnold, who also played tennis at the school, and the boys and girls tennis teams, it is truly an exciting time to be a Bishop.
“To stand here today as a former player and now the coach and see this great facility is amazing and exciting,” said Fleming Arnold. “As all these players here today, we are so excited to be able to play our matches here. Thank you everyone for donating and being part of such a great program.”
Also important to note are the center court sponsors who helped fund the project. Within the center, five of the courts are named after the following donors. They include Father Gabe Smith, pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church; Dr. G. Thomas Finnegan, an alumnae of Bishop England High School who’s daughter Stephanie played on two BE State Championship Tennis Teams; The Heffron Family, who donated in loving memory of Randall George Heffron, Jr., who played tennis for BEHS and passed away in a tragic accident in 2011 during his sophomore year at Wofford College; Tyson Weihs, co-founder and CEO of Foreflight, who played tennis at BEHS and graduated in ’94; and Mary Helen Condon Moore, who donated on behalf of the late George W. Wurthmann, Jr.