O’Connell gym named Koons Athletic Center

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Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington celebrated an important moment in its history Dec. 3 when the school's gym was renamed as the Koons Athletic Center.

With the morning sun shining through the upper windows and the gym bleachers filled with students, O'Connell's Head of School Joseph E. Vorbach shared with the assembled crowd about a transformational donation to the school's capital campaign.

"Because of this gift, we are able to proceed with the work we have begun here at the school that includes the new plaza out front, the new main entrance and open corridor, and the new wing on the site of the old convent that will have modern and flexible classrooms, as well as the new Immaculate Heart Chapel," said Vorbach.

He then turned to introduce Jim and Cece Koons, both members of the O'Connell class of 1969. "We would not be moving forward with these bold steps without their help," he said.

Jim Koons called this a "special treat" to be at O'Connell on this day. He introduced his wife, Cece, along with his sister-in-law Denise Zimmerman (class of 1973) and his daughter Krystal, who had joined him for the ceremony.

“O'Connell and the Koons family share a lot of history," he said. He met his wife, then Cece Zimmerman, at the school, and the two are getting ready to celebrate their 50-year class reunion in 2019.

He has three siblings who also attended O'Connell, and his older brother Joe (class of 1964) has been inducted in the Hall of Fame.

Having the Koons name on the athletic center is a fitting tribute to his family's legacy. "Sports were a huge part of our life at O'Connell," Koons said. "From this we got life lessons like discipline, positive attitude, hard work, teamwork, and respect for others."

Father Gregory Thompson, school's chaplain, invited the assembly to pray together to "bless all who assemble to compete in good sportsmanship, to teach the virtues, and to give support to all who participate in the various activities held in this building."

After the dedication, the boys and girls varsity basketball teams, along with the cheerleading squad and dance team, hosted a pep rally as a way of thanking the Koons family and kicking off a new era of O'Connell athletics.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018