Educator and coach in Washburn retires after a 48-year career

11 months ago

WASHBURN, Maine — Ron Ericson has officially retired this year after serving the Washburn School District for 48 years.

Ericson performed many different jobs during his tenure as educator, administrator and sports coach and some days got rather long. As athletic director and principal, he could start his day at 7 a.m. and end it anywhere from 7 to 10 p.m., depending on the sports season.

Aaron Turner, who played basketball for Washburn during middle school, described Ericson as a person who was loyal to the Washburn community and loved working for the SAD 45 school system.

“It was a big commitment on his part, he didn’t get paid extra to do that. He did it because he wanted to do it,” Turner said.

He was definitely devoted to the school and its programs. In 2008, Ericson, who already had an adopted son, married his wife Patricia and became a father to three stepchildren. 

Ron Ericson is one of three Aroostook County natives who will be inducted into the Maine Sports Legends Hall of Honors this Sunday in Brewer.  (Photo courtesy of Ron Ericson)

Ericson remembers their wedding happened on a Friday at an outdoor venue in Caribou at the beginning of harvest break. Saturday’s weather called for a torrential downpour, so his wedding ceremony scheduled for that day was moved to Friday.

After the wedding ended, Ericson rushed to Caribou High School to coach the soccer game against Ashland under the lights. The newly married couple went on their honeymoon the next day.

“So I got married and had to coach a soccer game both on the same day,” Ericson said.

His devotion to sports seemed to be catching in his family too. All of Ericson’s children shared the love of sports with him — a passion he developed during his own school days while growing up, he said.

Ericson was born in Caribou and grew up in New Sweden. He went to Caribou High School where he was a student manager on the Caribou boys basketball team, which won a state championship in 1969 and graduated from Caribou High School two years later in 1971.

“My goal was to teach middle school history and to coach middle school basketball and that’s what I started out doing,” Ericson said.

In 1975, Ericson began working for Washburn Middle School, what used to be the W.C. Foster School, as a seventh- and eighth-grade history teacher and middle school boys basketball coach. The middle girls basketball team for Washburn began in 1978. Ericson coached both the girls and boys middle school basketball teams in 1982.

Ericson taught drivers education starting in 1978 for 33 years when school wasn’t in session over the summer for both manual and automatic transmissions, which eventually became just automatic transmissions.

In 1983, Washburn started the high school girls varsity basketball team with Ericson coaching both the boys and girls teams until 1996. He also was still a middle school history teacher.

In 1985 and 1986 Washburn girls varsity basketball team won the state basketball championships and again in 1988 and 1989. It was four state championships won within five years, Ericson said.

From 2000 to 2002, Ericson worked as an Adult Educator for the Family Literacy Grant Program — an amount of $2,000 at the time — for two years. In 2000, he was one of two teachers recognized for being the outstanding adult education teacher of the year for Aroostook County in the first year of the Family Literacy Grant Program.

He returned to teaching as distance learning coordinator and athletic director for Washburn High School in 2003-2004.

After the Washburn High School girl varsity basketball coach left in 2005, Ericson took over the position while serving as both principal and athletic director for SAD 45 (Washburn). 

Ericson stopped coaching girls varsity basketball in 2010 but was still principal and athletic director until 2018. He wanted to reduce his workload and took a job working for Transportation Security Administration for the Presque Isle International Airport.

It wouldn’t be long before Ericson would return as athletic director and a part-time assistant principal for Washburn in 2019. Ericson returned to coaching the girls varsity basketball again in 2020 and 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2022, Ericson was elected to replace Robert “Bob” White as secretary and treasurer of the Aroostook League. White had served in the role since 1991 and resigned in the fall of 2022 due to declining health. 

“It was an honor because he was pretty special and unique and to take his place were some pretty big shoes to fill,” Ericson said.

Even in retirement, Ericson will still serve as secretary and treasurer of the Aroostook League, having just completed his first year.

“Being a principal, there are some challenging moments, but a lot of times those challenging moments end up resulting in something good down the road as kids mature,” Ericson said.