In America today, with multiple millions of us playing more games than it is easy to count, sport's transcendent stars—the ones with household names—are simply the ones who outshine the big and striving crowd that is the rest of us. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED spends much of its gaze and magazine space on the headliners. But we also enjoy scanning the crowd each week for new faces—for men, women and youngsters whose deeds are worthy of salute. SI's name for the product of this research is FACES IN THE CROWD.
Thus, in recent weeks, we have recorded in FACES that Paul Wilson, 16, a junior at Earl Warren High School in Downey, Calif. equaled the interscholastic pole vault record with a whizzer of 15 feet (SI, March 16). And that a young man named Rebel Ryan of Rutland, Vt., a skier since the age of 10, turned the Eastern Junior Alpine championships at Sugarloaf Mountain in Kingfield, Me. into a one-man show by winning the downhill, the slalom and the giant slalom (SI, March 23). And that a young lady named Judy Wills, 16, of Gulfport, Miss. won the world trampoline championship in London (SI, April 6). Also, a while back, that a 42-year-old Connecticut artist named Ed Vebell had upset a 25-year-old to win the épée title at an international meet in Manhattan.
Fencer Vebell may win another one like that some day—and we hope he will because a lot of his art work appears in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. Pole Vaulter Wilson has already been heard from again; one month after his picture appeared in FACES IN THE CROWD he vaulted 15 feet 7 inches to set the interscholastic ceiling higher than ever. Skier Ryan appears to be a comer; a few days after his picture appeared he won the national junior title. Miss Judy Wills plans to keep on trampolining, but in the case of an attractive girl tumbler who still has both feet on the ground some of the time, you never know. Even loving the sport as she does, any day she might up and quit in favor of a less spectacular career like marriage.
One thing Ed Vebell, Paul Wilson Rebel Ryan, Judy Wills and others like them have in common: a small, unpretentious silver bowl, engraved with the legend "Award of Merit" (see opposite column), which SPORTS ILLUSTRATED now presents to people reported in FACES. (This week's award winners appear on page 112.) You may hear more about these winners in the future, but we make no guarantee except that they are all worth knowing for what they are doing now.
The selection of the winners each week is made by one of the attractive faces in our own editorial crowd, Mary Ann Gould, who picks them from candidates proposed by SI correspondents, from wire-service reports, sometimes from letters from readers. Mary Ann grew up in the combined worlds of sport and journalism (the day she was born her father, Alan, was absent, covering the World Series for the Associated Press). She learned to swim at 1½, and at Wellesley she was a member of her house crew and her class crew, sometimes rowing stroke, sometimes riding as cox. Belatedly (see above) we publish her FACE.
MARY ANN GOULD