More 'Faces' profiles


The farmer had hay to bale, barley to cut and steers to feed. But Steve Hoff, 47, took time out from working the family's 350-acre farm to dig up the past.

Twenty-nine years ago, Hoff made it into "Faces" as the first high school wrestler in Maryland history to win three state championships - the last in 1976.

The plaudits brought colleges rushing to his doorstep on Bethel Road.

"My gosh, I had [scholarship] offers coming out of my ears," said Hoff, a graduate of Westminster High. He turned them all down to stay home and work the farm with his father.

Regrets? He has none.

"When you're happy with what you're doing, you don't worry about it too much," he said.

But on rainy days, once the livestock have been fed and the other chores are finished, Hoff might pull out his scrapbook with the dog-eared magazine and read it one more time.

Water helped get Steve Martin into the magazine. It nearly wiped out his souvenirs from it.

Martin, who won the intercollegiate single-handed sailing championship in 1964, feared he had lost his copies of SI last year when two hurricanes flooded his home in Vero Beach, Fla.

"We had to throw out a lot of stuff, but thank goodness the magazines weren't part of it," he said.

A native of Bay Ridge, Martin attended Severn School and graduated from the Coast Guard Academy, where he later taught. At 63, he still takes to the shallow waters nearby in his 21-foot sailboat.

"It's immensely satisfying to do something all by yourself and to manipulate the forces of nature," he said.

When the phone rang in his family's home in Columbia, Arnold Sing answered it, as 15-year-olds are wont to do.

"Check out Sports Illustrated," a friend said. "You're in it."

That was in 1978. But Sing still recalls the satisfaction he felt in being tabbed for winning the U.S. Judo Federation junior championships while he was a student at Oakland Mills High.

"Being chosen [for the magazine] helped me to continue in that sport," he said. "And it helped to validate the martial arts, which really weren't a big thing then."

Sing is now a ship harbor pilot in Honolulu, Hawaii.

"I hop on the big oil tankers, filled with crude, and bring them into port," he said. "You try to keep your stress level down."

The mind-set he adopted for judo, said Sing, "helps me through tense times."

Jim Born, star swimmer, stared at the pint-sized photo of himself in SI - and wanted more. Who could blame him? The year was 1985 and Born, of Edgewood, had just set five NCAA Division III records in leading Kenyon College to a national championship.

"I was excited to make 'Faces,' but I still had more to do," said Born. "I felt that I'd arrived, but that I was a thumbnail size in the back [of SI] rather than a featured athlete. I wanted to move forward in the magazine."

It wasn't to be. Born would make the top 10 internationally in the 100-meter freestyle, but two Olympic bids fell short. Now 41, he is a security analyst for the state of North Carolina.

"No more practices at 5:30 a.m.," he said. "Nowadays, I swim just to get wet."

Ken Hill's football performance on that crisp September day in 1983 was the stuff of legend. The Overlea High running back scored five touchdowns in a victory over rival Perry Hall. Among them were an 82-yard kickoff return, a 70-yard punt return, a 71-yard rushing touchdown and a pass reception for a score.

Then came the clincher - Hill's mug shot made the magazine.

Let the ribbing begin.

"Once my picture appeared, everyone began calling me 'Hollywood,'" said Hill. "Kids in school stuck little stars all over my locker and my football gear.

"Oh yeah, I think I got a date or two."

Hill would play one year in the Canadian Football League before injuring a knee. He still plays lacrosse, rides a motorcycle and lives in Sudlersville (Queen Anne's County) where, at 39, he works as a supervisor for a utility company.

"Every time I pick up an SI, I turn to 'Faces in the Crowd' to see if there's anyone from Maryland," he said. "It's like a little alumni thing."

Excuse Steve McDonald if he didn't whoop it up when he learned he had appeared in SI.

"It was Thanksgiving 1974, when someone brought home the magazine," said McDonald, then the soccer goalie at Loch Raven High. "I leafed through it, saw my picture and - smiled."


"I couldn't tell anybody about it then," he said. "I was the middle of three brothers, and I probably would have gotten beat up."

His award capped a near-perfect senior year for the long-haired McDonald, who allowed one goal in 14 games for Loch Raven's state champions.

"Kids called me 'Sports Illustrated' for a while," said McDonald, 48. Co-owner of an insurance agency, he still coaches youth soccer near his home in Lutherville.

The father of three, he has shared his write-up with his kids. Their response?

"Nobody lingered over it," McDonald said. "They acted like, 'Hey, the old man really did something at some point in time.'"

Nancy Brown was 55 when she was made a "Face" for setting three national age-group swimming records in 1991.

"They [SI] got me in my prime," the Pasadena woman said. "Pretty cool, huh?"

Still active, Brown is gearing up to swim across the Chesapeake Bay next year, when she turns 70. The distance? Nearly 4 1/2 miles.

"I do this once every five years," said Brown, a grandmother of 12. "I'll be fine, as long as the water temperature is OK and there's not a lot of current. I have no problem with the distance."

He was a 10-year-old soccer star when singled out by the magazine. All hail Tyler Gearhart, one-time scoring machine of the Ruxton Raccoons recreation team. His offensive prowess (13 goals in six games) won him honors in 1969.

That, said Gearhart, was the height of his sporting career.

"It was great when it happened," he said. "But the reality is that my athletic ability peaked in elementary school."

By college, Gearhart had switched to playing ultimate Frisbee.

He is executive director of Preservation Maryland, the state's oldest historic preservation organization. His keepsakes include a framed copy of his SI photograph, which hangs in the office of his home in Roland Park.

"Nobody at work really knows about it," Gearhart said wryly. "But when I try to get a little respect, I mention the fact that I was in Sports Illustrated."

He was the Annie Oakley of the Eastern District, a sharpshooting sergeant who kept racking up prizes in pistol competition. When he retired in 1972 from the Baltimore City Police Department, Arthur H. Simonsen Jr. had won nearly 150 medals for marksmanship.

Well done, said the magazine, which acknowledged him in "Faces."

"I appreciated that, but I didn't go around bragging," said Simonsen, 84, of Eastpoint. "My equipment was top-notch stuff - a $75 revolver from Bacharach-Rasin."

Though at home on the range, Simonsen also used his weapon on the job "once or twice," he said.

"In 24 years, I never fired at anybody to hurt them. Mostly, I'd fire warning shots in the air, so [suspects] would stop running."

Did it work?

"Oh yeah," he said. "I hope to tell."

Truth be told, Karen Class spent less time admiring her own photo in "Faces" than she did the hunk on the magazine's cover in November 1968.

"Jean-Claude Killy was on the front," said Class. "I loved him. He was one of my sports heroes at the time, and I thought, 'His picture is in there, and mine is, too.'

"When you're 11 years old, you think those things."

A victory in the National Jousting Championships (novice class) clinched a spot in "Faces" for Class (nee Bands). It was a big deal for the skinny sixth-grader, who practiced jousting aboard her brown pony, Cocoa, on the family's 5-acre farm in Bel Air.

"I remember the school principal announced that I had won the SI award, and that I would receive it on TV [Channel 2] and that everyone should watch," she said. "After that, it seemed like everyone in school wanted to come to my house and ride Cocoa."

The SI award is rarely mentioned now, said Class, a math teacher at Magnolia Middle School.

"It's always good to use in group discussions when someone says, 'Tell us something about yourself that no one else might know,'" she said.

John Houska, 49, played soccer for much of his life, but the one-time pro can count on one hand the games that his father attended.

"My dad was a doctor in East Baltimore who made house calls," said Houska. "He probably only got to see me play five times in my career."

Imagine the goaltender's delight on appearing in "Faces" in 1976 - after leading Loyola College to the NCAA Division II championship. He scored a shutout in the title game.

"Seeing my picture in the magazine made my parents so proud," said Houska, regional sales director for a food company in Lexington, S.C. "My father was a very humble man, but he loved having that picture around."

Front to back, cover to cover, Jack Thomas would read Sports Illustrated week after week. In 1970, the Towson High senior used to study the people in "Faces," read their terse biographies and envy the whole lot.

Then Thomas, an attackman, exploded in a lacrosse game (four goals and seven assists) and landed in the magazine himself.

There was just one hitch.

"They used my senior picture, with the white tux coat and the black bow tie," he said. "Looking back, it was pretty silly."

The photo followed him to Johns Hopkins University, where Thomas made All-American and led the Blue Jays to the NCAA title. Even then, he said, "kids remembered the picture and made fun of my bow tie."

Today, Thomas teaches history at Centennial High and helps coach the boys lacrosse team.

"Faces" has been known to select multiple family members, but usually in the same issue of the magazine. H. Turney McKnight and his daughter were chosen 30 years apart.

McKnight, of Jarrettsville, earned his place in 1970 after winning four consecutive steeplechase races. Three decades later, Anna McKnight, 15, made the big time. An equestrian like her father, she also won four straight riding events in 2000.

"Did being in the magazine change my life? Not one bit," said Turney McKnight, 62, a retired attorney. "In my whole life, no one has ever referred to my being in SI.

"But it was really fun for my daughter. More people picked up on her being in ['Faces'] than back in my time. Of course, when she was picked, I told people that I had been in the magazine, too."

Their reaction?

"They all said, 'We don't care.'"

Mark Michael was a 12-year-old swim prodigy when he appeared on a back page of SI in 1976.

His mug might as well have been on the front of the magazine.

"My swim life sort of peaked right there, in eighth grade," said Michael. "I felt like I got the Sports Illustrated [cover] jinx.'"

Then a student at Friends School, Michael ranked No. 1 in the country in his age group in backstroke and butterfly sprints.

"Then SI came out with my picture, and it all kind of went to my head," he said. "It was a badge of honor and an introduction line with the girls. People would whisper and say, 'That's the guy.'

"In fact, I swam great in high school [Calvert Hall] and college [Stanford], but I was never a national champion again."

Now 41, Michael operates Occasions caterers, a business he started with his brother, Eric, in Washington.

The father of three, he is biding his time before sharing that old magazine with his children. The eldest is 9.

"When it means something to them, I will show it to them and have them admire me for life," he said.

Roger Tuck has no idea as to the number of copies of the June 19, 1972, Sports Illustrated there are in his mother's house in Dundalk. Except that she must have squirreled away lots of them.

"Every time I turn around, I find another one stuck in a drawer," said Tuck.

And every time he skims the pages, there is the picture of one of Dundalk High's favorite sons, a high-scoring lacrosse attackman and an All-Stater in football.

That's Tuck beneath a massive mound of hair.

"I had this big, thick, black, curly hair that took up most of the picture," he said. "I don't think they got all of my head in [the photo]."

Tuck made the magazine one more time, in 1975 when his University of Maryland team defeated Navy for the NCAA lacrosse title.

A former All-American, Tuck, 50, now works for his brother, Michael, who owns a janitorial business in Catonsville.

Somewhere in her house in Parkton, buried beneath stacks of old sketches and faded landscapes and crusty paint brushes and oils, there's a yellowed sports magazine from 1976 with Mary Beth Akre's photo inside.

"Give me a week and I'll find it," she said.

Akre, 46, is associate professor of fine arts at Loyola College and an accomplished painter. Twenty-nine years ago, she was something else entirely - a fierce attackman who led Loch Raven High to an undefeated lacrosse season and the Baltimore County championship.

Hence, her appearance in "Faces."

"That was pretty cool, but I played because I loved the game and not for glory or honors," said Akre. Which is why she hasn't a clue where that magazine is.