The latest class gaining induction into the Thomas College Athletic Hall of Fame credit their careers at the Waterville college with helping them form lifelong friendships and making an impact on their lives beyond sports.

Thomas will induct Christina Fecteau, Albert Veneziano and Bob Wiles on Friday with a dinner, reception and plaque unveiling. The guest speaker is Boston Celtics Hall of Famer Dave Cowens. The festivities, which are open to the public, begin at 6 p.m. in the Summit Room at Thomas.

Veneziano, a 1981 graduate, served as coach Dick Meader’s right arm for the Thomas men’s basketball team, working as equipment manager, trainer and statistician during his four-year tenure. But his most notable accomplishments have come after his graduation.

Since 1987, Veneziano has been the girls’ basketball coach at Madison High School, collecting 315 wins in 27 seasons. The Bulldogs have won four Mountain Valley Conference and three Western Maine Class C titles, and Veneziano has been recognized as MVC and Morning Sentinel Coach of Year. He’s also been selected as a Maine McDonald’s All-Star coach on multiple occasions.

Veneziano also coached Madison’s softball team for 18 years, compiling a 246-86 record before retiring in 2013. During his tenure, the Bulldogs won three Class C state championships, five Western C titles and four MVC championships.

Now a teacher at Madison Junior High, a Madison selectman and town recreation director, Veneziano said he is “honored and humbled” by his induction, and noted it was his experience at Thomas that helped lay the foundation for his coaching career.

“Looking back, I was very fortunate to have worked with excellent coaches and positive role models while at Thomas College,” said Veneziano. “Coach Meader has been a great friend and mentor for me as a coach over the years.”

The bond between Wiles and his soccer coach at Thomas, Bob Knisley, continues nearly 40 years after Wiles graduated from the school. The native of Guildford, Surrey, England still stands as the most prolific scorer in the history of the school’s soccer program, holding records for both goals (47) and total points (116) in just three years of varsity play.

“Isn’t that amazing? I was very surprised to hear that,” Wiles said when asked about his enduring records, then joked. “I guess players today are a little bit unselfish.”

Wiles first came to Maine as an exchange student at Waterville High School, graduating in 1967. He attended Thomas for a semester and played soccer for Bob Cloutier before returning to England. When he came back to the States in the early 1970s, he joined the Stroh’s Strikers, the Waterville-based team in the Maine State Summer Soccer League. Knisley, a teammate on the Strikers, convinced him to return to Thomas, where the two formed a friendship that endures to this day.

Like most Englishmen, Wiles grew up with a passion for soccer (football), which was still gaining a foothold in America when he played at Thomas. Most players were typically great athletes as opposed to great soccer players, so Wildes used his upbringing around and knowledge of the game to his advantage on the pitch.

“I’d never say I was head and shoulders above (American players). There were some wonderful players (at Thomas). In fact, the whole conference was very good,” Wiles said. “It was kind of my job to score goals, and since I was a center-forward, I was fed some balls that made it easier for me (to score), plus I took all of the penalty kicks. I might have been more soccer savvy, but I wasn’t the most athletic player out there.”

A member of the National Dart Association’s Hall of Fame, Wiles travels around the world as a factory representative for a leading manufacturer of soft-tip darts. He and his wife, Irina, now reside outside of Philadelphia, PA. He has three children and six grandchildren.

Fecteau, also known as “Tee,” is a Westbrook native who excelled as a three-sport athlete at Thomas. She scored over 1,000 points in her basketball career and, at the time of her graduation in 1998, held the school career record for most 3-point field goals made. She also received conference and state recognition for her achievements as a soccer goalkeeper and all-conference honors as a starting pitcher and hitter for the softball team.

Fecteau said her athletic experiences at Thomas continue to shape her life long after the end of her career.

“It helped give me the confidence to be a strong leader on and off the playing field, in addition to working well under pressure,” she said. “Playing sports at Thomas helped my ability to be a good teammate, whether it be in sports or life in general, and it has helped me to live the healthy lifestyle that I do.”

A graduate of Thomas’ sports management program, Fecteau continues to work out daily and counts spinning, cross-fit training, running and lifting among her passions. She is currently director of sales for a sports and fitness club in Alameda, CA. She and wife Meagan Motley are anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child in November.

Tickets for the dinner and ceremony are $25 and $15 for children 12 and under.

For more information, contact Cathy Dumont at [email protected] or call 207-859-1211.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33


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