Three to be inducted Saturday into Owl athletic shrine

9 years ago

Three to be inducted Saturday
into Owl athletic shrine

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine The University of Maine at Presque Isle Athletic Hall of Fame will welcome three new members during Saturday’s induction ceremony at the Campus Center.

Soccer player Steve Babineau (Class of 1997), former basketball coach Karl Henrikson and cross country runner Sara Richard (Class of 1997) will be honored.

Steve Babineau

    Babineau played during a successful era for the Owl men’s soccer team. During his time at UMPI, the Owls won 37 games, including posting a 12-3-1 record in 1996, a season in which the team qualified for the NAIA Northeast Regional Playoffs.
Steve finished his playing career 11th on the all-time scoring list, despite playing defense his freshman year. He scored 29 goals and had seven assists in his career. Three times he was named First Team All-Maine Athletic Conference, he was a one-time NAIA All-New England Region First Team honoree, was named to the All-Northeast Region Team and the Bangor Daily News Men’s Senior All-Star NAIA Team in 1997. His career at UMPI earned him a professional tryout with the Connecticut Wolves in the A-League.
When asked to describe Steve as a teammate, there are many adjectives and stories about him. Behind Babineau, the team became a “band of brothers” and in the opinion of one teammate, achieved more then they should have because of it. The sentiment is that Babineau was too good of a player, and could have played at a higher level. It may have been for the best, however, as Babineau was faced with many challenges that he wouldn’t have been presented with elsewhere, and he rose above and overcame them.
“Steve was one of the fiercest competitors I have ever had the privilege to coach,” said Owls’ head coach Alan Gordon. “His passion for the game inspired his fellow teammates, as well as the other athletes on the UMPI campus.  He was highly respected by opposing coaches and players throughout Maine and New England and will always be considered one of the top soccer players to wear the Owl uniform.”
Babineau is described as having an extremely strong work ethic, which he used to not only drive himself, but also to push his teammates to push harder and achieve more. The end result was a hard working Owl team that was able to achieve great things.
Babineau turned his experiences at UMPI into a successful coaching career. After assistant coaching stints at the University of New England and the University of Southern Maine, he was hired as the head men’s coach at St. Joseph’s College. During his tenure, he amassed a 52-40-6 record, the most wins in SJC history. He led the Monks to five Great Northeast Athletic Conference Tournament appearances and two GNAC championships and also led the squad to the first two NCAA Tournament appearances in school history in 2009 and 2011. Not surprisingly, Babineau’’s teams exemplified his attributes as a player — hard-working, team players that achieved great things. He retired from coaching after the 2014 season.

Karl Henrikson

   Coach Henrikson came to UM-Presque Isle and took over a men’s basketball program that had been struggling. By 1993, the Owls were Northeast College Conference Champions for the first time in 12 years. He was also the NCC Coach of the Year that season.  With Henrikson at the helm, the Owls were Maine Athletic Conference finalists twice and were ranked in the top 25 in the NAIA. During his time at UMPI, Henrikson amassed a .580 winning percentage, while having the pleasure to coach three NAIA All-Americans.
His talents did not go unnoticed. He was asked to speak at the Hamilton Ontario Basketball Camp, the YBOA Recruiting Camp in Albuquerque, N.M. and as a coach/player clinic presenter in Lahti, Finland. He also was a factor locally as he started the Aroostook County All-Star Game, North Star Basketball Camp and the UMPI Summer League. He accomplished all of this while also serving as a member of the Health-Physical Education and Recreation faculty on campus.
Players wanted to play for Henrikson. He was tough, demanding and intense, but he brought out the best in his players. They noticed that he was prepared for every situation in game and in practice.  He knew how to drive his players and find a way to succeed. They learned discipline, raised their expectations, and became better young men from the time they spent with him. Opposing coaches and colleagues feared playing his teams. They knew that no matter who was on the team, Henrikson’s teams would be well-coached, prepared for the matchup and be in the best position possible to win a game.
When it was time for Henrikson to move on from UMPI, he found even more success.  In 1998 and 1999, he was the associate head coach of the Namika Lahti in Finland. He then returned to Maine where he had a stint at Maine Central Institute Prep from 1999-2002. During his time there, he won 77 percent of his games played and coached current NBA player Caron Butler, as well as 45 Div. I players.
Henrikson has been the head coach at the University of Southern Maine since 2003. During that time, his teams have been ranked as high as 25th in the nation, are undefeated against the University of Maine system schools and have been two-time Little East Conference Semi-Finalists. In 2014, his squad upset NCAA Div. I UM-Orono.

Sara Richard

    Richard may be one of the most accomplished runners in UMPI history. She was named to the NAIA All-New England Region Team all four years, including being the individual champion in 1995. She was the Dirigo Series champion in 1995 and the runner up in 1996. She was the MAC Champion in 1995, and All-Conference on multiple occasions. She finished seventh in MAIAW and was All-State in 1995. She was also voted as the team’s Most Valuable Runner in 1995. She competed in the NAIA National Championships four times, with her best finish coming in 1994, when she was 38th overall.
As one could imagine, Richard’s success translated into success for the Owls as a team. In 1994 and 1995, UMPI was NAIA New England Regional team champions. In 1994, she was also part of the team that was an NAIA Scholar Team as they were the seventh highest of 35 teams at nationals.
While it would be easy to define Richard’s career by her successes on the cross country course, there is much more to her story. It was evident the type person and teammate the Owls were getting before she even set foot on campus. As a senior at Presque Isle High School, Richard was awarded the Maine Women’s Fund Grant. The fund started in 1988 and its mission statement is to transform the lives of Maine women and girls through granting aid to young women to achieve their goals. Richard received this grant because she was a leader of her athletic teams with younger team members and supported them to achieve their goals. She chose to use this money to set up the “Sara Richard Scholarship,” which was given to a PIHS senior female student that exemplified Sara’s qualities. The award was given out for the next nine years.
It was in the same spirit and attitude that she approached the sport of cross country.  Richard viewed it as a team sport and not an individual sport. She was constantly cheering on her teammates, looking to give advice to help others improve, and taking the freshman “under her wing.”  Words that are commonly used to describe her by her former coaches include “great citizen, well-liked, intelligent, excellent student and all-around great kid.”
Combined with her unselfish team attitude, exemplary citizenship in and around the campus community and her excellence in the classroom, Richard is more than deserving of her induction into the UMPI Athletic Hall of Fame.
The Owls’ Athletic Hall of Fame reception and dinner will be held beginning at 5 p.m. Tickets are $20. To RSVP, please call the athletics department at 768-9506.