Eight inducted into PI High School Hall of Fame
By Kevin Sjoberg
The Presque Isle High School Athletic Hall of Fame had its second induction ceremony May 12, with eight new members joining the inaugural class of 10.
ATHLETES ENSHRINED — Presque Isle High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame held an induction ceremony May 12 at the Presque Isle Shrine Building. In from left are Mary Hunter, accepting the award on behalf of her husband, Eugene; Stacy Hafford Barnes and Darci Collins McCrum. Back row, Steve Condon, Jim Carter; Tim Lyford, accepting the award on behalf of his father, Jim; and Jim Dyer, Jr., accepting the award on behalf of his father, Jim.
This year’s event, held at the Presque Isle Shrine Building, saw Eugene Hunter (Class of 1940), James Lyford (1950), Jim Dyer, Jim Carter (1964), Steve Condon (1971), Darci Collins McCrum (1989), Stacy Hafford Barnes (1990) and Melissa Blackstone Gogain (2001) gain enshrinement.
Hunter, who was inducted posthumously, is a member of four other halls of fame – the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame, the Maine Sports Hall of Fame, the Maine Sports Legends Hall of Fame and the New England Basketball Hall of Fame.
A standout athlete for the Wildcats who went on to star in baseball and basketball at Colby College, Hunter became a respected coach who won state basketball championships at three different schools – Morse of Bath, Portsmouth (N.H.) and South Portland. He served 10 years as athletic director at South Portland.
His presenter was Allen Hunter, who spoke mainly of his father’s coaching and his advocacy for “mastering the basic fundamentals of the game.”
“He would his expect his players to practice and practice until they learned what they needed to know in order to do the job,” he said. “He also taught his players to have integrity and to keep their promises by honoring their commitment to themselves and their teammates by abiding by team rules and by showing up for games and practices on time.
“I have no doubt that my dad was born to be a teacher, and I think he knew it too,” Hunter continued. “He taught boys to become men in that classroom called the gym.”
Lyford, also inducted posthumously, was presented by teaching and coaching colleague David Maxcy.
Lyford was one of Presque Isle High School’s most successful runners, winning every dual cross country meet and placing third in the state meet his senior year as the Wildcats won the title. In track and field, he held the County record in the 880-yard run for many years.
As a coach, Lyford won three state championships, more than any other in the history of PIHS. His cross country teams also compiled eight county and four regional crowns in XC as well as seven Aroostook League track and field titles.
“Jim put his heart and soul into coaching,” Maxcy said. “He took great pride in Presque Isle, the school and the team, and his team members knew that.”
Maxcy was also the presenter for longtime PIHS coach Jim Dyer, the third posthumous inductee. After a brilliant athletic career at Foxcroft Academy and Bowdoin College, Dyer began his 26-year teaching career at PIHS in 1946 and a few years later got into coaching. Dyer’s Wildcat baseball teams won Aroostook League titles outright five times and shared the title on two other occasions.
Also a respected basketball official, Dyer is also a member of the Maine Sports Hall of Fame, the Maine Sports Legends Hall of Fame and the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. The baseball field at PIHS is named in Dyer’s honor.
“Jim always commanded respect,” Maxcy said. “I have talked to several of Jim’s former players and they spoke of the respect they and their teammates had for Jim and of his strict but fair manner.”
Carter played sports at PIHS in the early-1960s, but his main contributions to the athletic program have come in other ways. He has contributed numerous articles to The Star-Herald on former athletes and also has written a book on the history of basketball at Presque Isle from 1950-2009.
He is one of the founders of the PIHS Athletic Hall of Fame and serves as its co-chair. The retired Caribou High School educator and coach compiles statistics for the Big East Basketball Conference and serves as a play-by-play radio announcer for WEGP.
Kurt Bates, a friend of Carter’s, was his presenter at the ceremony. He read letters of congratulations from former Caribou athletic director Dwight Hunter, SAD 1 Superintendent Gehrig Johnson and Carter’s brother, Tom, and spoke of the dedicated work Carter has performed on behalf of the school.
In his induction speech, Carter said he was “deeply honored” and that “it has been gratifying to contribute in other ways to the school and that I take a great deal of pride in doing so.”
Condon was an all-state first-team basketball selection in 1971 and was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state that season. He averaged 19 points and 13 rebounds in tournament play.
Scott Carlin presented Condon as “a guy who always brought out the best in you. He is the most competitive person I’ve ever known.”
After attending junior college, Condon started at the University of Maine under Skip Chappelle for two years, averaging 15.9 ppg as a senior in making the all-conference team. He made 18 of 20 field goal attempts to score 37 points in an upset win over Virginia Commonwealth University.
Condon said he was especially proud of joining his daughter, Kim, as members of the hall of fame. Kim, who also attended the ceremony, was inducted last year.
Darci Collins McCrum is renowned as perhaps the best all-around female athlete to play at Presque Isle High School. She was an all-state player for the soccer, basketball and softball teams in the 1980s.
Frank Keenan, the then-athletic director at PIHS, was McCrum’s presenter and spoke of her outstanding athletic abilities.
“She is a very special young lady,” Keenan said. “She was blessed with talent and the competitive spirit of an elite athlete. She could play any sport and was always so very humble, but she had a work ethic and a focus that set her apart from other athletes.”
At Husson University, she set a record for assists in the 1993 NAIA “Fabulous Four” national basketball tourney in Oregon with 20. She is in the all-time top-10 in four categories at Husson and was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 2004.
In her acceptance speech, McCrum said her four years at PIHS gave her some of “the best memories of my life.”
“With all the support from the fans, there is not a better community to be a part of,” McCrum said. “They are the ones who got me through the games. I loved the community and the coaches. I’m honored and humbled [to be inducted].”
Stacy Hafford Barnes was a high school and college teammate of McCrum’s. Barnes was a member of the first girls’ varsity basketball team to win a state title, doing so her senior year in which she was also named to the all-tourney team and the state final MVP.
She was known for her relentless, hustling play on the soccer field and basketball court.
Presented by Richard Nichols, Barnes said even though she lives in New Jersey, she makes it a point to bring her family back to the Presque Isle regularly.
“I try to come back to show my kids how I grew up here,” she said. “It’s a great honor to actually have that athletic foundation here. You don’t get that support in other places.
“Also, having this place as a stepping stone to go into college, I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Barnes, a 1,000-point scorer at Husson, was also inducted into its hall of fame in 2006.
The final inductee was Gogain, who also was presented by Maxcy, her cross country and track and field coach.
A superb track and field athlete, she holds PIHS records in five events — the 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1,600-meter runs — and also owns the state record in the 800 and 1,600. In cross country, she placed fourth at the state meet her senior year. She also was a starter for the Wildcat basketball team.
She went on to earn a full athletic scholarship and competed at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., where she earned All-Big South Conference honors twice.
Unable to attend the ceremony due to work commitments (she is a professor at Liberty), Gogain sent a letter, read by Hall of Fame Co-Chair Mark White, to thank all of her coaches, writing that “they have had a huge influence in my life … they challenged me to do my best, strive to do better and to take pride in the accomplishment I achieved.”
The first PIHS hall of fame class, inducted in February, 2011, included Hubert “Billy” Shaw (1932), Ralph Sweetser (1932), Hal Cheney (1933), Malcolm Dempsey (1942), Ron Staples (1954), Robert Duprey (1961), Wayne Hartford (1961), Byron “Barney” Smith (1965), Kim Condon (1997) and Bill Hanscom, a coach who retired in 1957.