Brookville standout didn't peak too early

The News & Advance
April 1999
(Also, see note below)
WILLIAMSBURG - A few years back, a client sitting in Joe Montgomery's office here happened to notice a football resting on a shelf. It was the game ball from William & Mary's 31-24 season-opening victory over Virginia Tech in 1973. Montgomery was the captain of that Tribe team.

"He said, 'Wouldn't you hate to think that was the high point of your life?' " recalled Montgomery. "It was very insightful. To peak at 22 would be really unfortunate."

Montgomery certainly didn't peak at such a young age. He's now managing director of the Wheat First Union office here, regarded as one of the brightest financial analysts in the country, a member of William & Mary's board of visitors and a proud father of two young children.

That's not to say, however, that by the age of 22, Montgomery hadn't accomplished quite a bit. And on April 29, 1999, the Brookville native will be inducted into the Lynchburg Area Sports Hall of Fame for his numerous accomplishments.

Montgomery was a standout center for legendary coach Bunker Hill at Brookville High School in the late '60s. "Anything you asked him to do, he did twice," said Hill. "He stood out above the group."

Enough so that he grabbed the attention of a certain William & Mary coach named Lou Holtz.

"I remember when I told him I wanted to sign, he said he'd be there the next day," said Montgomery. "But I told him my parents wouldn't be there that day. 'Well, I'll come the next day, then,' he said. 'Coach, that's Super Bowl Sunday.' And he said, 'I'll watch the game at your house.' "

And that's just what Holtz did. Montgomery sat there with the man who one day would lead Notre Dame to the national title and they watched the Kansas City Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.

Holtz left William & Mary after Montgomery's freshman football season (his sophomore year). But under new coach Jim Root, Montgomery became one of the Tribe's best players. He was a two-time All-Southern Conference selection at center and earned third-team All-America honors from Football News in 1973.

In 1985, Montgomery was inducted into the William & Mary Athletic Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the school's all-time football team.

After graduating with a degree in business administration, Montgomery spent time in training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles, making it as far as the final cut. He later played with the World Football League's Charlotte Hornets in 1975.

Almost 25 years later, Montgomery knows that his business success has a direct correlation to his years spent in athletics.

"You work hard, you play hard, you try to succeed," said Montgomery. "We all have setbacks. But losing probably teaches you more than winning does about character. If you win, sometimes you get complacent.
"When I was playing (professional) football, I worked out about 40 hours a week. I took karate lessons to improve my foot speed. I repeatedly ran 40-yard sprints on the hot cinder track at Lynchburg College.
"I converted that same intensity into business."

Hence, that game ball from 1973 is a pleasant reminder of his past, not a piece of memorabilia from a time that was as good as it got for Joe Montgomery.

Said Montgomery, "I've been very fortunate to be able to replicate my athletic success in business." 

Note from Larry (Bees' web page editor):  I had the privilege of growing up with Joe and his brother John. The entire Montgomery family were first class. Whenever we played football in our backyards, we always had a lot of fun. (I was not Varsity material, myself, but many in our neighborhood were). Whenever we visited the Montgomery home, we always felt welcome.  Congratulations to Joe on ALL his achievements, from the Lewis family.
           Eddie, Class of '65, Larry, Class of '68, Keith, Class of 74, and Pat, Class of '77