His name still resonates deeply within the Belfast Central School athletic community.
Paul Vienna famously served as athletic director, superintendent and coach at Belfast before his untimely passing in 1975 at age 38. He was the patriarch of a coaching tree that includes former boys basketball coach Ron Enders and legendary boys soccer boss Rich Sullivan, who spent a year with Vienna in 1974-75 before embarking upon a 35-year coaching career that would place him fifth in Section 5 history in wins.
His name is forever attached to the hoops facility as the Paul Vienna Memorial Gymnasium.
“He was one helluva guy,” Enders recalled of Vienna in a Times Herald story in January 2017. “He was the main reason why I sometimes wanted to coach. I never thought I’d ever have a chance to.”
Vienna, then, built his legacy locally, 28 miles down the road, where soccer reigns supreme. His son, Dr. Michael Vienna, has spent the last 40 years constructing his own legacy … only his has been established elsewhere.
AFTER A standout high school career under Sullivan, Michael played four years collegiately at Mount Union (Ohio), where he earned a B.A. in health and physical education, before obtaining his Master’s in sports management and Ph.D. in higher education administration from Kent State University.
The younger Vienna then embarked upon a four-decade-long career in sports administration. And that career is set to come to an end, at least in its current capacity, in just over two weeks.
Vienna, the assistant vice president and athletics director at Emory University in Atlanta, has announced his retirement effective August 1, the school announced in a release on Tuesday. It essentially brings full circle a relationship with athletics that began under his father’s watchful eye in the mid-1970s.
Vienna came to Emory in 2015 from Salisbury University (Maryland), where he’d spent 26 years as an athletics administrator, including 23 as Director of Athletics and Recreation. And in five years at the Georgia-based Division III institution, he oversaw one of the more prosperous periods in the school’s sports history.
UNDER VIENNA, Emory won nine national titles and 30 University Athletic Association championships. In his first four years, its program placed among the top 10 in the Learfield IMG College Director’s Cup standings, including a fourth-place finish in 2017-18, a reflection of its overall success.
With Vienna at the helm, according to a university release, Emory engaged in a number of positive initiatives, including the addition of women’s golf as the school’s 19th intercollegiate sport, new partnerships, a comprehensive five-year strategic plan, additional staffing, a reimagining of the Eagle Edge program and facility enhancements, such as a new soccer field, the installation of a new scoreboard in the Madeline Jude Brown Natatorium, a renovated softball facility that includes a press box, permanent seating and a new locker room and a new baseball team facility.
“I am so thankful to have been on this journey at Emory for the past five years with so many talented colleagues,” he said. “Being a partner in our efforts to provide the best possible educational experience and services for our outstanding student-athletes has been an honor and a privilege. The passion, energy and commitment to excellence has been an inspiration.”
In addition to athletic success, Emory has shined in the classroom under Vienna, earning 20 NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships and 31 CoSIDA Academic All-American selections. And, much like his father, Vienna, who graduated from Belfast in 1976 — a year after Paul’s passing — has held a number of positions on the NCAA front, serving on the NCAA Division III Management Council, the Strategic Planning and Finance Committee, the Legislative Relief Subcommittee and as a mentor in the NCAA Pathway Program.
Just like Paul, whose influence at Belfast was far-reaching, Michael made a profound impact in athletics and academic offices across a generation. In retirement, he can rest assured it was a career of which his father would be proud.