|TA Honors New Athletic Hall of Fame Members|
Thornton Academy held its annual Athletic Hall of Fame ceremony on Oct. 15. The inductees for 2011 are the 1956 & 1957 Undefeated Field Hockey Teams; Kenneth Luce, class of 1939; Leslie Couture Mourmouras, class of 1986; Richard Kerry, class of 1959; and the 1986 Championship Football Team.
In addition, the Great Moments Award was given in honor of the Paul S. Hill, Jr. Stadium, which was recently renovated thanks to the private support of alumni, faculty, staff, businesses, trustees, parents, and friends of the school.
The Hall of Fame inducted its first class in 2006 when the Alumni Association and Board of Trustees began recognizing the athletes, coaches, teams and others affiliated with the school who have excelled at or contributed greatly to athletics at TA. The Athletic Hall of Fame Committee is made up of Kirk Purvis ’93, chair, Phil Fearon ’70, Jack Morrison ’74, Richard Parker ’60, Athletic Director Gary Stevens and Diana Grant Walker ’75.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.