Athletic Hall of Fame Awards
|1986 Championship Football Team|
On November 15, 1986, at windswept Whittier Field on the Bowdoin College Campus, Thornton Academy reigned as king of Maine schoolboy football, capturing the Maine Class A State Championship with a 28-6 victory over Bangor High School. Fullback Bob Giroux, who went on to win the coveted James J. Fitzpatrick award, ripped the Bangor defense for 137 yards rushing and three touchdowns behind the offensive line of Craig Thibeau, Paul Tate, Rene Menard, Scott Sicard, Mike Goulet, and Mike Tarbox. TA’s defense stifled the Bangor attack and caused six turnovers. For Coach Dick Agreste and his team, the win capped a perfect 10-0 undefeated season, and earned Coach of the Year accolades for Coach Agreste.
The Trojans, led by captains David Robinson, Craig Thibeau, and Mike Tarbox, captured the Bowie Division Championship by defeating Biddeford 45-20. A 21-12 first round playoff victory over South Portland catapulted TA into the state title game where the Trojans captured their first title in 24 years.
|2010 - Bryce Roberts '58|
Bryce Roberts was one of the rare four sport athletes during his days on the Thornton Academy campus. On the baseball diamond, he was on the varsity squad for four years and was named to the All-Telegram team in 1956. On the links, Bryce was runner-up in the Maine schoolboy golf championships his senior year.
On the basketball court, Bryce was a standout in leading the team in scoring, assists and rebounds on the 1958 squad that returned to the Western Maine playoff tournament after a 12 year absence. The team was coached by Jim McGaffin, a 2007 inductee to the Thornton Academy Athletic Hall of Fame.
Other notable accomplishments came on the cross-country course where he consistently led the pack. In 1957, he paced the team to a nearly unblemished regular season record, a first place finish in the Southwestern Maine championship, a second place finish in the state meet, and fifth place in the New England showdown. Individually, Bryce won every single regular season race, placed second in the state meet and seventh against his New England competition.
After graduation, he took his talents to the University of Connecticut where he continued to excel, especially at baseball and cross-country. Bryce was inducted into the Maine Golf Hall of Fame in 2006 and was a long-time pro at Prouts Neck Country Club.
|2010 - Art Leveris '92|
Art Leveris was a powerhouse fullback during his three years playing football at Thornton Academy. A punishing runner, Art stands alone as the all-time leading scorer in TA football history. His accolades are many and serve as proof of the widespread respect he garnered from coaches and the media both in Maine and throughout the country.
Art was the 1991 winner of the coveted James J. Fitzpatrick Trophy which goes to the top high school football player in the State of Maine. By the time he concluded his career at Thornton, Art held New England records for both rushing yards and points scored. Art was named to the all-state team for three years and the all New England team during his senior year. In addition, he was the 1990 and 1991 Maine Gatorade Player of the Year and the 1991 Maine Sunday Telegram Player of the Year. Art’s prowess on the gridiron was featured nationally on an ESPN television show called “Scholastic Sports America”. Head football coach Dick Agreste concisely summed up Art’s career in a comment that accompanied Art’s announcement to the All-State team his senior year saying - “We’ve had some great running backs here, but Art’s the best we’ve ever had.”
Art was recruited by over 300 colleges and universities across the country. He settled on the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland where he played football for two years and was a member of the graduating class of 1997. Art currently lives in Massachusetts with his wife and three young children.
|2010 - Nichole Motil '95|
Regardless of the event, Nichole Motil was the one to beat. In her time at Thornton Academy, she set nine individual school records in indoor and outdoor track and she and her teammates set three other records in relay events. Nichole won 18 individual state championships in various track events including the high jump, the triple jump, the 55 meter hurdles, the 100 meter hurdles and the 300 meter hurdles.
In an astonishing single-day performance that happened the day before she graduated, Nichole set three individual state records. Perhaps her most amazing feat is that following her sophomore year, she did not lose a single final heat race on the track for any event in which she participated in any regular season, league, regional or state competition.
Nichole was an SMAA All-Star in every season she competed in both indoor and outdoor track. While there was no award at the time for outdoor track, she was the Outstanding Athlete in the SMAA for indoor track in her sophomore, junior and senior years. Nichole was awarded the Maine Sunday Telegram All Sport Athlete of the Year following her senior year for her participation in soccer, indoor and outdoor track.
Marc DeFrancesco, Nicky’s coach for every season of indoor and outdoor track, has this to say about her -“While others have followed her with excellent numbers, championships, records and the like, there has never been a more dominant athlete in TA’s track and field history. More than all the medals and all the fame, I will remember that Nichole is a tremendous human being.”
Nichole took her talents to the University of Maine in Orono where she continued to compete in track and field. Now, she works in education and leads her own squad of high school athletes as a track coach.
|2010 - Robert Bowie, Football Coach|
Thornton Academy has a rich history of outstanding coaches that have led their teams to successful campaigns and state championships. Robert Bowie is part of that history.
Though better remembered as Thornton’s Headmaster from 1956 through 1971, Bowie also left his mark on TA through his work patrolling the sidelines as a football coach.
Bob began his career in Connecticut before coming to Thornton in 1930. The young coach molded many teams, including the state championship team of 1931. That team had a record of 8-0-1, including a victory over previously unbeaten Cony High, which gave it a clear claim to the title. 1932 was supposed to be a rebuilding year with the return of only one running back, but Bowie led his crew to another undefeated season and staked its claim to another championship. The 1933 team, though not state champs, finished a respectable 7-2.
In Bob’s final year as the TA football coach, the 1934 team went undefeated. That year the team outscored its opponents 176-6 including a victory over Biddeford by a score of 31-6. The Maroon and Gold defeated South Portland in a playoff game to claim another state championship. Overall, Bob amassed a record of 31-11-3.
Bob left Thornton after the 1934 season and worked as a teacher and coach at Portland High School. He also coached baseball in Tarrytown, New York. In 1949, he returned to TA as submaster while coaching cross-country and track. He became headmaster in 1953 and gave up coaching while he lead Thornton for eighteen years. He remained a staunch supporter of TA athletics.
|2010 - Thomack Eck, Football Coach|
Thomas Eck logged only four years on the sidelines of Thornton Academy’s gridiron, but during his tenure he established a legacy of success that is worthy of honor. Eck attended Colgate University. After playing three years of varsity football for the Red Raiders, he graduated in 1938.
He coached in Massachusetts schools until the outbreak of World War II when he joined the Air Force as a special projects officer. Following his service to our country, he joined the staff of the University of Massachusetts as an assistant football coach and was subsequently named the head coach in 1947. He resigned in 1951 to return to high school football.
Tom Eck arrived at TA in the fall of 1952 and brought with him the experience and knowledge acquired at the collegiate level, including the introduction of using film to scout and prepare for opponents. He promptly gave football fans a glimpse of the better days ahead. His first squad finished at 8-2. The team’s 321 points set a State of Maine scoring record and its season-ending 53-7 win over Biddeford remains as the largest margin of victory in the Battle of the Bridge. In 1954, Eck and his troops claimed TA’s first state title in twenty years by winning all ten games. Their offense was ferocious, averaging 30 points per game. Their defense was even more impressive, holding seven opponents scoreless and allowing a mere 39 points for the season. In 1955, continuing its offensive onslaught, Eck and TA swept through its second consecutive undefeated season and defended its state championship title.
Eck left Thornton after the 1955 season with a 33-4-2 record, including a 24 game winning streak, two Western Maine Conference titles, two State of Maine Class FFF titles and a state scoring record. He is a member of the National Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
|2010 - Tom Winston, Radio Announcer|
GREAT MOMENTS AWARD - An avid sportsman, Tom Winston was the radio voice of the Maroon and Gold throughout the 1960’s and occasionally since that time. Many TA fans would listen in on radio station WIDE, 1400 on your dial, as Tom broadcast football and basketball games live from his perch in the booth on the 50 yard line or high above courtside.
In his efforts to bring TA games to the homebound fans or to the unfortunate few who had to work, Tom would paint a verbal picture with such signature phrases as “tricky dribble” and “running right-hander” to describe the action taking place at Emery Gymnasium or later at the new Linnell Gymnasium.
Tom was on the air for many of TA’s great moments. His energy and effort behind the microphone were incredible additions to the sense of community created here at Thornton Academy. Saco and its citizens are fortunate to have the oral scrapbook of some of its most singular athletic events because of the radio skills of Tom Winston.
|2011 - 1956 & 1957 Undefeated Field Hockey Teams|
It did not take long after the initial competitive field hockey team was established at Thornton Academy in 1952 for the program to enjoy an abundance of success. The highlight of the first decade of TA field hockey was the back-to-back undefeated campaigns of 1956 and 1957. The teams were strong in their stick-play against all foes that they faced. The teams were so dominant, they did not give up even one goal during the two seasons. Though there was no playoff system at the time, the teams were clearly head and shoulders above their competition.
The teams were led by several players recognized for their efforts by being named league all-stars. These names included Carole Warren, Brenda Leach, Georgeanna Soucy, Lynne Cunningham, Rose Marie Arel, Donna Gallagher, Brenda Grace, Donna Shaffer, Sandra Miner and Doris Bergeron.
|2011 - Great Moments Award - Paul S. Hill, Jr. Stadium|
Thornton Academy boasts a long and storied athletic history that dates back to the 1890s when the first interscholastic sports teams began competing with other area schools in a variety of activities. In its rich tradition of athletic excellence, some of Thornton’s greatest performers and most memorable moments are linked with Dr. Paul S. Hill, Jr. Stadium, the school’s main outdoor competition venue. In operation since 1980, Hill Stadium has been home to the school’s football, soccer, field hockey, cross country, outdoor track and field, and lacrosse teams and is generally regarded as one of the top high school playing venues in southern Maine.
Named in honor of Dr. Paul S. Hill, Jr., a prominent Saco physician who also served as President of the Thornton Academy Board of Trustees and was a major benefactor of the project, Hill Stadium became home to many Thornton Academy teams beginning in the fall of 1980. Prior to that time the Maroon and Gold played its gridiron tilts and ran outdoor track and field meets directly across the street at the property currently owned by Rite Aid. Weather permitting, Hill Stadium also is the site of the annual Thornton Academy graduation each June.
Dr. Paul S. Hill, Jr. was born in Saco in 1906 and graduated from Thornton Academy in 1923. After doing his undergraduate work at Bowdoin, he attended Johns Hopkins Medical School and returned to his native Saco, where he practiced medicine for a number of years. He was Chief of Staff at Webber Hospital and owned the former Trull Hospital in Biddeford. During World War II, he served in the Army Medical Corps and was commissioned a
Lieutenant Colonel. Dr. Hill attended General George S. Patton when he was injured in an automobile accident that would eventually cause his death.
One of Dr. Hill’s greatest passions was his service to his alma mater. He joined the Board of Trustees in 1938 and became president in 1966. During his time, he was considered to be one of the city’s leading citizens. At the time of the stadium dedication in 1980, one resident noted, “[There is] no one more appropriate than Doc Hill for whom to name the new stadium.” Another contemporary noted, “He is the most loved man in Saco today . . . loved and respected, a rare individual.”
The Hill Stadium project was developed on a site that was formerly part of acreage owned by the Scamman family, longtime neighbors to Thornton Academy. The first athletic contest played on the new Hill Stadium turf took place on September 6, 1980, when Thornton Academy faced long-time rival Biddeford in an exhibition football contest.
Even with the change to a new on-campus facility, longtime Thornton fans entering Hill Stadium for the first time that fall were met with a familiar sight: the maroon and gold colored archway that had served as a ticket booth and entry point for football goers for many years was moved to the west side of Main Street. Hill Stadium has been home to some of the most famous moments in Thornton Academy athletic history, including Western Maine championship victories in football in 1986 and 1988 and a regional title in girls soccer in 2009.
The facility has also been the home field for two state championship football teams and four state title teams in boys and girls outdoor track. Every other year the stadium has been host to the annual “Battle of the Bridge” football game between the Golden Trojans and rival Biddeford Tigers. Legend has it that the crowd at the 1991 Biddeford game exceeded 10,000 spectators.
In addition to being the scene of numerous championship tilts, Hill Stadium has been the home facility for some of the most talented individual performers that the Thornton Academy athletic program has produced. Fitzpatrick Trophy winners Bob Giroux and Art Leveris thrilled partisan spectators with their exploits on Saturday afternoons at Hill Stadium. Track and field standouts such as Hall of Famers Nichole Motil and Leslie Couture paved the way to multiple state championships by training and performing at the stadium, and the sister and brother combination of Brynn and Dan Smith set school, league, and state records in the shot put and discus.
Some of Thornton’s most legendary and successful coaches, including Bob Cote, Dick Agreste, and Mark DeFrancesco have patrolled the sidelines at Hill Stadium. Given the quality of its playing surface and other amenities offered by the facility, including two large grandstands and a modern concession stand, Hill Stadium has been selected on numerous occasions to host major events in football and track and field. The very first Maine Shrine Lobster Bowl took place at Thornton Academy on July 28, 1990, and both the Southwestern Maine Activities Association and Maine Principals’ Association have utilized the stadium for league and state championship track and field meets. On two occasions Thornton Academy has hosted the New England Track and Field Championships and will host this event on a tri-annual basis beginning in 2012.
As we recognize the generosity of Dr. Hill and his gift to Thornton Academy, a school that he truly loved and supported, we are reminded of the many memories of classic Saturday afternoon football tilts and outstanding track and field performances that are evoked by this facility.
Beginning in the spring of 2011, Thornton Academy embarked upon a new journey by replacing the original sod of Hill Stadium with artificial turf and by adding a new track and field lights to this venerable home of Thornton athletics. Although the stadium has a markedly different look and will be utilized for night contests in the future, many aspects of the project reflect the spirit of generosity of Dr. Hill and his fellow trustees who approved the original project in the first place. A portion of the financing for the project included funds originally generated by Dr. Hill and his colleagues in the early 1980’s. Even the original loam used to build the Hill Stadium turf has been recycled; that material is being utilized to develop natural grass playing facilities on the western part of the campus. Today Hill Stadium remains the envy of schools in southern Maine and throughout New England and is one of top on-campus athletic playing facilities in the region.
The vision of Dr. Hill and his associates to provide a high quality playing facility for Thornton Academy student-athletes has entered an exciting new phase. In addition to the New England Track and Field Championships in June of 2012, Thornton Academy is slated to host the 2011 Maine Principals’ Association regional field hockey title games in Classes A, B, and C and will be a prime candidate for hosting championship play in soccer, football, and lacrosse in upcoming seasons. For the current generation of Thornton Academy student-athletes and fans and those who will follow them, it is a source of great pride and will continue to be a scene of great memories.
|2011 - Kenneth Luce, Class of 1939|
Ken Luce was the leader of the line for the nearly unstoppable 1938 Thornton Academy football team. His strength, quickness and leadership abilities at the center position opened numerous running lanes for a team that has been described as a “scoring machine”. Along with Swede Anderson, a 2006 inductee into the Thornton Academy Athletic Hall of Fame, Luce stood out among his peers by being named to both the All-Conference and All-State teams.
Ken’s skills on the basketball court were equally as spectacular. Along with two players from South Portland and one each from Portland and Deering High Schools, Ken was named to the Portland Press Herald All-Conference Team in 1939.
An all around athlete, Ken also lettered three years in baseball. His interest in baseball and the Saco community led him to manage and coach the 1954, 1955 and 1958 Saco Post 96 Owen Davis American Legion Junior baseball teams to state titles.
Off the field Ken was devoted to his country. He served during World War II and has been deeply involved in the American Legion. He and his wife, Charlotte, raised three boys: Ken Jr., Darryl and Jeffrey.
|2011 - Leslie Couture Mourmouras, Class of 1986|
Leslie Couture Mourmouras was a four-year, three-sport athlete at Thornton Academy. Leslie paced the field hockey team as a top scorer in her sophomore, junior and senior years. Her performance in field hockey earned her a spot on the All-Conference Team and honorable mention recognition on the All-State Team in her senior season.
Leslie’s junior year of indoor track brought significant achievements as she was a conference All-Star, scored the best conference time in the 300-yard dash and beat the state record holder at the time in the 40-yard dash. She scored in three events in both the Southwestern meet and the state championship meet. Coach Mark DeFrancesco said of Leslie’s achievements, “She is very dedicated and she never complains. She works hard every day of the week. She is one of the best in the league, and she’s only a junior.” Leslie’s hard work and dedication continued during the outdoor track season when she placed in four events at the Southwestern meet and in three events in the state championship meet.
As a senior, Leslie continued to excel on the track. As the captain of the state championship indoor track team, Leslie was undefeated for the season in both the 40-yard dash, where she set a league record, and the 300-yard dash. At the state championship meet, she won the 55 meter and 300 meter races and also won the long jump, an event she had not competed in for over a year. Her performance on that day netted 30 of her championship team’s 64 points. As a result, Leslie was the first to be unanimously voted as the outstanding athlete of the league. In the spring, Leslie won the 100, 200 and long jump at the Southwestern meet and then placed second in the 100 and 200 and third in the long jump at the state championship meet.
Leslie continues to participate in the sports she excelled at in high school by coaching the varsity field hockey team at Biddeford High School and coaching track locally. Leslie lives in Biddeford with her husband, Peter, and her children: Max, Mallory, and Megan.
|2011 - Richard Kerry, Class of 1959|
Dick Kerry was a standout athlete at Thornton Academy in the late-1950s. On the gridiron, he was a four-year varsity team player. As a member of the conference champion TA squad his junior year, he led the entire state in points scored while landing on the Second-Team All-State Team. Dick followed his junior year with an impressive senior season and earned a spot on the First-Team All-State Team. He formed a nearly unstoppable offensive tandem with quarterback Dan Donovan, a 2009 inductee to the Thornton Academy Athletic Hall of Fame.
Dick was also a stellar player on the baseball diamond where he was a four year varsity player. He excelled both on the mound and at the plate. One newspaper article describes his efforts in one game as follows: “Kerry aided his own cause in the fifth with the longest blow of the season. The Thornton batsmith tagged a pitch into deep left field that landed on the girls’ softball field 350 feet away for a home run with one on.” Dick’s baseball skills earned him spots on the 1958 and 1959 All Telegram League teams.
|2009 - Daniel Donovan '59|
Donovan played four years of football, baseball and basketball during his tenure at Thornton Academy, but it is his excellence on the gridiron that stands out the most. He played quarterback on two very talented and successful teams and was one of the main cogs in the split-T offense.
His efforts were recognized by twice being named to the all-state football team and also receiving honorable mention on the 12th Annual National High School All-Star football team. Additionally, he earned a partial scholarship to the University of New Hampshire, where he played for one year. Following a move by his family to South Carolina, Donovan entered Furman University, where he again became a star, earned all-conference accolades, and also picked up the nickname “The Irish Gambler.”
|2009 - David Lane '69|
At 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, Lane likely did not strike fear into his opponents during pre-game warm-ups. That all changed, however, once the game started and he got the ball in his hands. Using his phenomenal speed and quickness, he dominated over the rest of the league. Lane often times had the option of either running or throwing the ball from the quarterback position, and opponents had a hard time stopping both.
Serving under the tutelage of coach, and fellow inductee, Brad Leach, Lane started as a sophomore as a defensive back and both quarterback and defensive back during his junior and senior campaigns. His accomplishments include being named to the 1967 all-state team as a defensive back and to the 1968 all-state team as a quarterback. Coach Leach described his go-to guy as follows: “He was the kind of kid who makes coaches better. In my 30 years at Thornton as a coach and then athletic director, I never saw a better athlete.” Following his career at Thornton Academy, Dave went on to shine at Colby College. Lane is married his high school sweetheart, Martha.
|2009 - Bradley Leach '56|
A three-sport standout at Thornton Academy in the 1950s, Leach participated in football, basketball, and baseball during an outstanding high school career. A talented running back and receiver, he led the Maroon and Gold to state championships in 1954 and 1955.
In 1954 he was named to the all-state team and was selected as the state’s outstanding performer on the gridiron. During his senior season, he averaged 9.6 yards per carry and was named as an All-American player. Leach was also one of the top schoolboy baseball players in the state during his era. He started for the 1954 Telegram League championship baseball team and was selected as an all-conference pitcher in 1955 and 1956. He led the Owen-Davis American Legion baseball team to state championships in 1954 and 1955 and was the American Legion state tournament most valuable player in 1955. Leach returned to Saco in 1961 to begin a career as a teacher and football coach at Thornton Academy. He served as athletic director from 1971-1992, the longest tenure of any person in that position in school history. In addition he was president of the Southwestern Maine Activities Association in 1988-1989 and was a basketball official for several years. Upon his retirement he serviced the southern Maine area as assignor for the Western Maine Board of Approved Basketball Officials. One of Leach’s students summarized his former coach’s legacy and philosophy as follows. “We learned that sports was not the end-all, but a means to an end, that discipline and hard work were the keys to success in life.” He added, “Brad was a coach in the fullest sense of the word; he was a superb teacher and molder of young men.”
|2009 - Joseph Regina '43|
Regina was a three-year starter and place kicker for what many consider to be the greatest span of football teams to ever play at Thornton Academy. Joe was a two-way lineman on these teams that carved out an impressive 23-4-1 record. He was named to the all-conference team in 1940, 1941, and 1942 and in 1942 was also selected to the All-Maine team.
Regina’s coach was the legendary George Martin who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2008. While at TA Regina also lettered in indoor track and was vice-president of his class for four years. As a player, he was a fierce and accomplished competitor. As a coach, he was a role model for hard work and consistency both on the field and in the classroom. He always stressed the “game of life” to his players: the importance of family; the importance of treating people with respect; and the importance of an education or skill to be successful.
|2009 - Joseph Vachon, Sr. '25|
Vachon served as captain of the state championship gridiron team in 1924. His prowess, however, is most remembered as a fireball pitcher on the baseball diamond.
Strikeouts were his specialty and nowhere is that fact better demonstrated than in a 14 inning game against Westbrook. In this matchup, Vachon stuck out 20 opponents while going the distance for the Maroon team. At the time, it was heralded as “probably the greatest twirling duel ever staged in the Telegram League.” His success, as described by one writer, could be attributed to “a world of stuff, plenty of speed, a good head and being a trifle wild.” Known as one of York County’s best pitchers of all time, Vachon was previously inducted into the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. Following high school, Vachon served his beloved city of Saco as a policeman and the postmaster and also served as a trustee of Thornton Academy for 30 years.
|2009 - Robert Warner, Jr. '72|
Warner was a stalwart on the basketball court for Thornton Academy. Playing under the helm of Jeddy Newman, Warner became arguably the best hoopster in TA history.
In his senior campaign, he led the squad to a 14-7 record and earned a berth in the playoffs where the team ended up as Western Maine Class A runners-up. His efforts earned him the George Vinall Trophy for being the Outstanding Player-Sportsman in the Western Maine Class A basketball tournament, a spot on the Bangor Daily News 1st Team All-State selection, and many other accolades. Warner took his skills to Orono to play for the University of Maine under Coach Skip Chappelle. In his senior college season, he was the second leading rebounder in all of Division I. Warner is a Director of Operations in Salem, Mass., for a non-profit organization that supports after school programs in both math and English for disadvantaged children. He and his wife Hanna have a daughter named Isabel.
|2008 - Fred Arno ‘45|
Entering Thornton Academy in the fall of 1941, Fred Arno began his
athletic career in a rush. Fred received his first letter playing left
halfback on the varsity football team that fall. He earned his second
letter shortly thereafter by competing on the indoor track team running
the 40 yard dash, 300 yard run, high jump and relay.
He also competed
in outdoor track in the 100 and 200 yard sprints, as well as shot put,
javelin, discuss and relay. As a sophomore Fred earned letters in
basketball and baseball. In 1943 he was a member of the varsity
basketball team that won the York County Championship. Off the field,
Fred was president of his class for three years. At the end of his
junior year, in April of 1944, Fred enlisted in the Marine Corps and
left for World War II. Returning to Saco in 1946, Fred graduated from
Thornton with the Class of 1947. Fred attended Springfield College and
earned BS and MA degrees, and worked in human resource management for
various electronics companies in the Boston area.
|2008 - Amy Belliveau ‘75|
With the help of Title IX, female sports started to evolve in the
1970s. At the forefront of this campaign for Thornton Academy was a
three sport athlete, Amy Belliveau. In field hockey, Amy was an
outstanding offensive threat and the team’s leading scorer.
she scored 12 goals when her team was crowned the Southwestern Maine
Champions with a record of 9-1-1. On the basketball court, Amy lead the
team to a number one ranking in the first ever Western Maine Tournament
for girls. That year, she scored 291 points and pulled down an
impressive 169 rebounds. As a former teammate, Karen Reardon noted,
“Amy was fast, strong and agile. She had a true jump shot and was an
intimidating force on defense. If they had All State Teams for girls at
that time, Amy would have been on the team and quite possibly the
season MVP, as we know them today.” In track, Amy was a sprinter and a
thrower. Running on a cinder track at the University of Maine in Orono
at the state meet, she was the anchor leg on the 1975 state
championship 440 relay team along with Laurie Scott Scamman, Diane
Jamieson Fenderson and Diana Grant Walker. Amy’s natural ability and
hard work helped her to become one of the first in a growing tradition
of excellent female athletes here at Thornton Academy.
|2008 - Philip Curtis, Coach and Athletic Director|
During his 31 years at Thornton Academy, Phil Curtis was a versatile
and wide-ranging coach, for a wide variety of sports, both boys and
girls, in addition to serving as athletic director and teaching math.
Phil served as freshman football coach from 1962 through 1966 and again
Phil also served as the varsity baseball coach from 1963 through
1975, leading the team to a Telegram League Championship in 1963. Phil
served as Athletic Director in 1970-1971. Curtis coached the girls
basketball team in 1973 and remained at that position through 1981.
During those years Thornton made the playoffs in all but one year and
made it to the Western Maine finals twice. He was named Coach of the
year for Western Maine in 1981. During his tenure at Thornton, Phil
also coached the varsity boys tennis team, the junior varsity boys
basketball team as well as a variety of summer recreational programs.
Phil coached 40 seasons at Thornton Academy and had an estimated 250
|2008 - George Martin, Coach|
Thornton Academy reigned as one of the top football teams in the state
during the nine-year tenure of George Martin. With Martin at the helm
from 1935 to 1943, TA won 70 games, lost only nine, and tied seven
TA won four state titles under his watch. Martin’s teams were
noted to be prolific on offense and stingy on defense – Thornton racked
up 1,884 points, nearly six times as many as their opponents’ 316
points. George Martin, with the help of his lucky hat, led TA to
victory over Biddeford eight times with one tie, outscoring the rival
team 198 to 12 in nine games. Because TA did not have a mascot at that
time, the team during these years was some times referred to as the
|2008 - Terrence McSweeney ‘38|
While at Thornton Academy, Terry “Touchdown” McSweeney was an
all-around athlete. He earned an amazing 14 varsity letters. While he’s
most prominently known as a football player, he also excelled on the
baseball diamond and the basketball court for four years and served as
the captain of both the baseball and basketball teams his senior year.
Additionally, he was a mainstay on the relay teams for the track and
field squads during his freshman and sophomore years. In an article
summarizing his most successful gridiron game, a battle against Deering
High, the following description was given, “It was a broth of a boy
named Terrence McSweeney who led the Sacoites to their overwhelming
conquest by scoring four touchdowns in a brilliant exhibition of
running and pass receiving.” It should be noted that this was done in
an era of football where there was little scoring. In 1937, Terry was a
first team all-conference and second team all-state running back. Terry
joins his fellow teammates Charlie Mistos and Swede Anderson who have
previously been inducted along with his coach, George Martin, who was
also inducted this year.
|2008 - Roger Spaulding ‘56|
At 5’8” and 155 pounds, Roger Spaulding dominated in the athletic arena
with his speed and quickness. In his junior campaign, Spaulding’s
football team was undefeated at 10-0 and outscored opponents 299-39.
The team’s success continued in his senior year as the Trojan eleven
went undefeated again and repeated as state champions.
backfield duties with Brad Leach and Norman Hirst while Ralph Tarbox
handled the quarterback position. One newspaper article offers this
reflection of Roger’s talent, “In the way of statistics, Captain Roger
Spaulding was the star, averaging 10 yards in 57 carries. He completed
8 of 10 passes with a net gain of 303 yards on the 10 throws.” He was
the leading scorer in Maine in 1954 and made the all-conference team
two years in a row. Roger was also the recipient of the Tom McCann
Trophy which was given to the most valuable high school player in
Maine. Roger ranks number 6 on Thornton’s all-time scorer list. His
accomplishments were no less astounding on the baseball field where he
was named to the All-Telegram League team and was the Telegram League
batting champ in 1955. In the last game of the 1954 season, Roger led
the way on offense as he scored two runs and stole four bases,
including home plate, as the team won the Telegram League championship.
According to Dave Kerry, who was one year behind Roger at Thornton, “He
was one of the finest athletes ever to come out of the State of Maine.”
Roger continued his career playing two seasons of football at Iowa
State, then began a family with his wife Louise and pursued many
different occupations. Roger passed away in 2001.
|2007 - Richard H. Grant, Class of 1954|
Dick Grant starred in both baseball and basketball star. He was a captain of the basketball team for Coach Francis Mear in his senior year and was consistently one of the top scorers in the box score. Grant was also captain of the baseball team in his junior and senior years and was a three-time All Telegram Team pitcher. He pitched in the longest baseball game in TA history, a 16 inning affair vs. Portland's Willy Greenlaw, a game that Thornton lost 1-0. He also once struck out 19 batters in a 13 inning game against South Portland.
Those are just two of the many memorable pitching outings during his career at TA. Legend has it that he threw the ball so hard, he forced his catcher, Don Lester, to resort to using a piece of steak to help minimize the sting in his hands.One reporter wrote: "The local Chamber of Commerce owes Dick Grant, Thornton Academy pitcher, a note of thanks. Local hotels and restaurants have reaped a handsome reward from the Thornton youngster's baseball talent for there have been as many as five scouts in town simultaneously and their expenses add up." After graduation, he began his professional career in the Chicago White Sox organization by heading to Edmunston, New Brunswick, Canada before settling back here in Saco for many, many years.
|2007 - Donald D. Lester, Class of 1953|
During his years at Thornton Academy, Don Lester excelled in football as a halfback, in baseball as a catcher and in basketball as a guard and forward.
During the 1952 baseball season, his junior year, he was crowned Telegram League batting champion as he batted .400 with 26 hits - 23 of which were singles - in 65 at bats. The team's record that year was 10-6; it tied for first place in the Telegram League and made it to the state tournament.
Lester was named to the All-Telegram League as a catcher both in his junior and senior years and is arguably the best catcher in Thornton's history. The day after graduation from Thornton Academy, he joined the Marine Corps, but later came back and settled in Saco and was active in the community, including serving on the town council.
|2007 - Hilary F. Mahaney, Class of 1921|
As an athlete at Thornton Academy, Mahaney was a center on the basketball team and a first baseman on the baseball team. But his athletic excellence was mostly displayed on the gridiron. Mahaney was a captain of the football team in his senior year and a member of three prep school state football championship teams. He was an All-Conference fullback for two years and was named to the All-State team his senior year.
After graduating from Thornton, Mahaney continued his football career at Holy Cross as a right end. Eventually, he became a captain of the football team at Holy Cross and was named to numerous All-American and All-East teams, one of which was Liberty magazine's All-America Football Team along with Red Grange of Illinois. In the early 50's, he was selected to the Boston Post All-Time All-America team along with, among others, Jim Thorpe, Red Grange, George Gipp, and Doc Blanchard.
Mahaney went on to Boston University Law School and was assistant coach while in school there and head coach for the 1930 and 1931 seasons. He later returned to Saco where he was an attorney and later a municipal judge. He continued his love of football by officiating Southwestern Maine high school games for many seasons. Mahaney passed away in 1969.
|2007 - Robert E. McAvoy, Class of 1946|
McAvoy was twice selected to the all-state football team as an end in 1944 and 1945. After playing 2 ½ years as an end, he took his talents to the backfield. In one 1944 newspaper article, he is described as follows: "Bob McAvoy's end play against Portland Saturday afternoon at the Stadium was as good as any we have seen this year. The big Maroon end turned back everything directed at his flank, and he did a fine job on offense, too. He is as good, if not the best, wingman we have looked at this year."
McAvoy was also a starter on the varsity basketball team his junior and senior years. Additionally, he starred on the 1945 and 1946 track teams, especially in the high and low hurdles, including a win in the Portsmouth Clipper Relays in which 13 schools from four New England states competed.
After leaving Thornton, Bob spent one year playing football at Michigan State, but transferred to Bowdoin College where he was named to the Little All-American team in 1949 under Bowdoin's storied coach Adam Walsh. McAvoy enjoyed a long career as a leader in the paper industry, eventually becoming the first native Maine president of S.D. Warren.
|2007 - James McGaffin, Coach and Athletic Director|
Jim McGaffin began his career at Thornton in 1956 as head baseball coach, assistant football coach and assistant basketball coach. After one year, he became head basketball coach and coached for 15 year, from 1956 until 1970. At a school with a reputation as a football school, he was instrumental in putting basketball on the map. The basketball team hadn't been to the state playoff tournament for 12 years; after McGaffin took over, the team went five of his first six years and nine out of the next 13 years.
As a jack of all trades athletic director, McGaffin's duties included scheduling, mentoring, selling tickets, and mopping floors. When basketball games outgrew Emery Gymnasium, and before the construction of Linnell Gymnasium, he took his teams to various venues to play their games in order to accommodate the crowds that followed the team. His teams were often referred to as the aptly named "orphans."
McGaffin served for more than 27 years at TA, more than half as submaster. In a newspaper article covering his retirement, one of his former players had this comment: "I think he instilled in those who played for him a feeling of respect for the system and the meaning of playing on a team, and those things are valuable."
|2007 - Robert E. Tims, Class of 1953|
Also known as "Big Bob"and "Red" Tims was nominated by three different people for this award. His distinguished career at Thornton began during his freshman year as he was quarterback of the undefeated and untied football team. Later that year, he was chosen as the MVP of the York County Freshman Basketball Tournament. In his junior and senior years, Red lettered in football, baseball, basketball and track.
He received honorable mention in the Fifth Annual National High School All-America Football Team and was invited to play in the Fifthth Annual High School Blue/Gray game in Memphis, Tenn., a game in which Bart Starr was the first team quarterback. In his senior year, on a football team which, at the time, set the State of Maine scoring record and had total yardage of 4,058 yards, Tims had 1,285 total yards and was selected All-American honorable mention by Scholastic Coach magazine.
He was twice selected to the All-Telegram League team for his efforts on the baseball diamond and also won a Golden Glove. In his junior year, Tims was the only player in the Telegram League to hit safely in every game. Additionally, he was the captain and high scorer on the basketball team. Although offered a scholarship to play football at Yale, Red chose an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy instead.
|2006 - Lloyd "Swede" Anderson '39|
Anderson played fullback and was part of the all-Conference team as both
a junior and senior. He was part of the All-State team as a senior. In addition, he ran track all four years of high school.
|2006 - Henry "Hank" LaVallee ’25|
Known as the “Kid,” LaVallee was quarterback of two
championship football teams in 1923 and 1924. He was also a star baseball player and showed his talent on the
second team of the Portland Telegram League All-Maine Team.
|2006 - Charles Mistos ’37|
Mistos played three sports all four years of high school:
football, basketball and baseball. He was named
to All-State and was batting champion in
the telegram League in 1936 as well as an ace pitcher on 1937 Telegram League Team. After graduating from TA, he played for the Altlanta George Crackers
and in Biddeford-Saco’s twilight league.
|2006 - George Pendleton '48|
Pendleton was a three
season athlete all four years of high school in football, basketball and baseball. He was named to the All-American football squad in
his senior year. We think he was Maine’s
first high school player so named.
He was named to the All-Maine team in football.
|2006 - 1914 Girls Basketball Team|
The team was named league champions in 1914 when most
schools did not have many athletic opportunities for boys much less girls. The players were Isabelle
Alexander, Helene Buker, Florence Grace, Helen Lawrence, Marion Lowell and
Magdalena Walker. The team captain was Meribah Keefe.
|2006 - 1920-21 Boys Basketball Team|
TA’s first and only state championship
was captured by this team. The players were
Justin Seavey, Lawrence Graves, Albert Hanson, Edgar Roger, Leo Joncas, Wesley
Seavey, Frederick Shields, Hilary Mahaney, Kenneth Lord, Donald Skillings and