The Mighty Black and Gold! The Black Knights of Arlington, Virginia. A mix of everything and everyone in South Arlington. Black, white, brown, yellow, and every color that exists. All under one black and gold umbrella. If you grew up in Arlington back in the day, you recognized the colors black and gold, and you knew that whoever was wearing them was connected to anyone else that wore them past or present. You might ask their last name to find out what family, just so you could send home a hug or a smile to someone or everyone in that family. You knew their siblings, you knew their neighborhood, and you knew their friends. They knew you. You were a Black Knight. The Black Knights were about sports, but so much more. The Knights were about each other, and everyone else. They were about the neighborhoods that represented them, and that the Black Knights represented. They were about the families that trusted them with their kids and their well being. They were about standard. The Mighty Black Knights.
They were a fence post in the community. They were a meeting place, a boundary setter, a standard carrier, and they were home. You knew that you could see everyone on any given practice night or game day, and that you could check in and know what was going on while you were away within minutes. You knew who had parents that worked late, who had a big station wagon, who had the best family meals, and who had the best back yard for after practice get togethers. Any parent was everyone's parent. Any child was everyone's child. And oh what a wonderful family it was.
The last names were calling cards, business cards, and most definitely, id cards. We all knew the names that led us, coached us, taught us, and loved us. (And pardon me know if I miss a name or family, I would be here all night if I listed everyone. Plus, I am old and my memory is leaking!). You knew the names. They were on the call list (pre email, text, and cell phones). They were on the address list so that parents knew where to drop off those ride-less kids. They needed the home phone numbers because some dear sweet soul would have to call the entire roster if there were practice, game, weather, or game treat updates.
The Kayes. Hunter. Terrell. Glascock. Saunder. Holland. Reid. Blackwell. Goodwin. McKinney. Fox. Ney. Naylor. Taylor. Morris. Peyton. Hunt. Cook. Woody. Hutchinson. Blake. Etal. (Told you, I would forget some. Feel free to add to the list!) These were just some of the names that rang out and stood out in the Black Knights family. These were the folks that followed you home, popped in at school, drove through the neighborhood, and hugged you. That is who the Black Knights were. They were extended family who you grew up with and left a LovePrint on us ALL.
It was football with its coronation from white pants to gold, meaning you had grown up enough to wear the awesome gold game pants, to the spray painting of the black helmets on Friday night so that they were gorgeous and shiny for Saturdays game. It was THE THING. It was Saturday's at Bluemont Park, TJ, and Yorktown. ALL DAY! Watching each weight class, seeing everyone, following the amazing Black Knight cheerleaders as they SHOWED OUT EVERY WEEK! (Sorry Bearcats cheerleaders, but..). From the team tents with great food and BL gear, to seeing each of Arlington's team roll through.
It was basketball and its twice a week stops at Swanson. Sitting in the stands and watching the older legends play, catching up with the other teams, and saying high to your friends that played on other squads. (Smaller squad size moved a lot of Knights to other sponsors in basketball season).
Baseball and Softball was amazing. Weeknights and Saturdays at Barcroft, and again, ALL DAY. Every age group, every level, and chasing foul balls and returning them for sno-cones during the day. The Black Knights were an all year family, no matter the sport, season, or reason, you were covered in Black Knights family love forever. And the other teams that partnered up with the Black Knights in South and Central Arlington (Fairlington Mustangs, Red Top Cab, Bauer Studios, Arlington Trust, Real Title, Arlington Cubs, etc), all made for young people who felt like they belonged, mattered, and were connected to something amazing. And they were right.
Decades later, if you want to know what the impact of the Black Knights was, simply ask someone, anyone, who was a part of the family. You can even ask the Hawks, Cubs, Bearcats, Optimist, and anyone who grew up in Arlington. They will smile with love. That is what the Black Knights were about. Love.