BY TERRY DEVEREAUX

Correspondent

Former Mt. Blue High School wrestling coach, Tom Ward, will be one of five individuals inducted into the Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame during a ceremony at Hyde School in Bath on Saturday, Aug. 3.

Ward became Mt Blue’s first-ever state wrestling champion when he won the 155-pound Class B title in 1972. He went on to wrestle four years at the University of Maine at Orono, where he was team captain his senior year. As successful as he was as a competitor, it was as a coach where Ward made his mark.

He began his coaching career as an assistant at Rumford High School and was instrumental in the Panther’s 1978 state championship performance.

In 1979, Ward returned to Mt. Blue as a physical education teacher and took over the wrestling program. He led the Cougars to back-to-back state Class A championships in 1983 and 1984. It was the last time that an Eastern team has won the Class A title.

Conditioning was a hallmark of Ward’s Mt. Blue teams.

“I learned how important conditioning was when I was in college,” Ward said. “I swore my kids wouldn’t lose because the other guy was in better shape than they were.”

Maranacook Community High School football coach Joe Emery, who wrestled for Ward on those state championship teams, said Ward was his favorite coach.

“You knew he cared a lot about you and he got the best out of everybody,” Emery said. “He taught us that whatever we do in sports or in life that we do it with passion. He is what I aspire to be as a coach.”

Ward stepped down as the Mt. Blue wrestling coach after the 1985 season.

“At that point, I was the athletic director and assistant principal at Mt Blue,” Ward said. “I really hated to give up coaching, but I just couldn’t do it all.”

Ward later took the principal position at Dirigo High School where he helped start the Dirigo wrestling team along with coach Hal Watson. His administrative career included stints as principal at Mt. Blue and Marshwood High School in South Berwick. He recently resigned at Superintendent at RSU 10 to take the helm at RSU 9. Mt. Blue High School is part of RSU 9.

Bob O’Connor, who recently retired as wrestling coach at Mt. Blue was a senior on the 1979 team that Ward coached.

“His passion for wrestling was evident and I looked forward to going to practice every day,” O’Connor said. “He always told us wrestling was a sport that what you get out of it will only be what you put into it.”

Others being inducted into the hall of fame include former wrestlers Jon Kane of Deering High School, Rusty Smith of Dexter High School, Maynard Pelletier of Fort Kent High School and Doug Gilbert of Rumford High School. Gilbert is now the head coach at Dirigo High School.

Foxcroft Academy’s Luis Ayala will be honored as Coach of the Year while Gardiner’s Daniel Del Gallo will be recognized as Wrestler of the Year. Topsham’s Bob Ewing will receive the Person of the Year award.

The ceremony will begin with a dinner at 4 p.m. Tickets to the event may be ordered by calling Mark Nowak at (207) 729-1767. Tickets are $25 each and must be ordered by Thursday.

 

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