AUGUSTA — Before any program leaps into the national spotlight — like the University of Maine men’s ice hockey team did in 1993 when it won an NCAA championship — there is always a starting point.

Eric Weinrich was a key cog in the Black Bears ascension in the mid- to late-1980s, playing in 83 games over three seasons before moving on to the National Hockey League after the 1987-88 season.

“Eric was a great player at Maine and obviously fashioned a tremendous NHL career,” current Maine coach Red Gendron said. “More important than anything else it’s his quality as a human being. That goes all the way back to his family and being raised in Maine and Maine values.”

On Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center, Weinrich was one of nine inductees to the Maine Sports Hall of Fame along with William “Bill” Alfond, Anna Goodale, Roger Levesque, Peter Carlisle, Amy Winchester, Glenn Dumont, Marcie Lane Schulenberg and Rob Pendergist.

“It’s probably one of the nicest honors any Maine person could accept,” Weinrich, who lived in Poland, Rumford and Gardiner growing up before attending North Yarmouth Academy, said. “If you look at the list of the athletes in Maine, especially the list of inductees here, it’s quite the accomplished group of people. It’s just an honor to be included with them.”

Weinrich played 17 seasons in the NHL as a defenseman, yet on Sunday he was amongst a group of individuals from Maine who have also risen to the top in athletics.

“To read the accomplishments of all these people is just unbelievable what they’ve done,” Schulenberg, a 1989 graduate of Cony High School, said. “The hard work and stuff that they’ve put in in sports is incredible.”

Schulenberg was a standout basketball player for the Rams and, though standing just 5-feet, 2-inches tall, she was known for her tenacity and toughness. In her four years at Cony, the team went 83-4 and won a pair of Gold Balls, the first two for 2014 Hall inductee coach Paul Vachon.

“He was just a fantastic coach. He really cared about his players,” Schulenberg said. “He taught us the fundamentals and he taught us about the game. He also cared about us as people and wanted us to succeed in life.”

Schulenberg — who was also a standout field hockey and softball player — went on to play basketball at Boston University, ultimately transferring to finish her career at the University of New Hampshire.

Schulenberg said in addition to being humbled by the honor, she was also happy to meet Levesque, a star soccer, basketball and baseball player at Falmouth High School.

After graduation, Levesque had a standout tenure at Stanford University and went on to have a very productive 10-year career with Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders.

“It’s so special,” Levesque said. “I don’t make it back to Maine as often as I would like to. For this event, to be a part of that with all these amazing athletes, all the way from the scholar athletes, all the way up to these people who are legends in Maine athletics and done so much for the sport, it’s really exciting.”

While Levesque wishes he made it back to his home state more, Dumont never really left. Dumont was a star football player at Winslow High School in the mid-1960s who went on to have one of the greatest careers a running back has ever had at American International College.

By the time he graduated, he had broken every rushing, scoring, kickoff return and punt return at AIC, and he is still the leading scorer in program history with 242 points and 40 touchdowns.

“It was great football,” Dumont said. “I didn’t realize I could compete at that level but I did. I excelled at it and it was a great time.”

He was drafted in the 14th round of the NFL draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, but did not make the team and returned home to Winslow to teach and coach football.

Dumont still follows the high school football team at Winslow — where his former classmate, Mike Siviski, is the coach — and was on hand to watch the Black Raiders win the Gold Ball this past season behind Dylan Hapworth’s seven touchdowns in the Class C championship.

“I watched him play during the year and he did a fantastic job,” Dumont said. “He really is a great athlete but what I was impressed with was I think he played at a higher level at the state game. He was just not going to be denied and he played a whale of a game. As good of a game as I’ve ever seen a high school kid play.”

Also honored Sunday were the student-athlete recipients of the $5,000 Maine Sports Hall of Fame scholarships. They are Caleb Abbott, of Freeport; Caleb Gauvin, of Mountain Valley; Lydia Roy, of Waterville; Kathryn Taylor, of Noble; and Kevin Barrett of Thornton Academy.

Evan Crawley — 621-5640

[email protected]

Twitter: @Evan_Crawley

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