Former Van Buren High School and University of Maine basketball standout Matt Rossignol, record-setting Maine high school hockey coach Norm Gagne and four-time state schoolgirl golf champion Abby Spector will be among the fourth class of inductees into the Maine Principals’ Association Hall of Excellence on Thursday evening.
Other Maine sports figures to be recognized for contributions to interscholastic activities around the state are former UMaine football coach, athletic director and educator Walt Abbott, former Maine commissioner of education J. Duke Albanese, longtime basketball official Al Card, former Stearns of Millinocket athletic director Don Dow, state running legend and teacher-coach Diane Fournier, veteran athletic administrator Gerry Durgin, and former football coach and administrator Mike Haley.
The inductees will be honored during a ceremony at 6 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center.
Abbott’s teaching and coaching at UMaine is credited with training and influencing thousands of students, many of whom went on to become educators themselves. The Rumford native spent 55 years at UMaine, first as a student-athlete and later for nine years as head football coach as well as decades as a professor and director of the school’s outdoor leadership program.
Albanese also is a former college football player who served as the state’s commissioner of education from 1996 to 2003. The East Providence, Rhode Island, native and former school superintendent also helped lead the development and adoption of Maine’s Learning Results and was a founding director of the Sports Done Right initiative at UMaine.
Card starred athletically at Paris High School, Maine Central Institute of Pittsfield and UMaine, then coached at MCI and Cony High of Augusta while also establishing himself as one of the top basketball officials and baseball umpires in Maine. He has been honored numerous times for his officiating work at both the state and New England levels.
Dow, a Fort Fairfield native, spent 45 years educating students and athletes. He began his teaching and coaching career at Harmony High School before moving on in 1967 to Stearns, where he became a prominent figure in local, conference and statewide interscholastic athletic endeavors before his retirement in 2003.
Durgin was a teacher, coach and athletic administrator at Gorham, Fryeburg Academy and Telstar of Bethel for a total of 38 years before spending the last six years as an assistant athletic director with the MPA. Durgin also served with the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association for more than 20 years and was the organization’s president in 2007.
Fournier was a pioneer in the state’s running community, running the Boston Marathon in 1970 when it was still was illegal for women to compete in the event. The Rumford native began teaching and coaching at Mt. Ararat School of Topsham in 1974 and has been a longtime meet director for state outdoor track meets. She retired from teaching in 2014 but continues in her fourth decade as Mt. Ararat’s cross country, indoor track and outdoor track head coach.
Gagne’s 715 career victories over 42 years as varsity hockey coach at Gardiner, Waterville, Gorham, Lewiston and Scarborough rank as the second-most nationally for high school hockey. He’s guided teams to seven state championships and 18 state-final appearances, and he’ll continue coaching next winter at his alma mater, Edward Little.
Haley earned 15 varsity letters at South Paris High School before playing football and baseball at UMaine. He coached football at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine before beginning a distinguished career as a coach, teacher and administrator at numerous Maine high schools. Haley has participated on local, league, and state committees as well as serving as MPA ice hockey director for the past 24 years and assisting the organization in many other events.
Rossignol scored 2,257 points during his high school basketball career at Van Buren, including 51 in the 1985 Eastern Maine “B” semifinals against Schenck of East Millinocket. That year he set two regional records that still stand: points (103) and field goals (37). He then went to UMaine where he scored 1,297 career points. Since then he has been a teacher, coach and soccer official.
Spector broke new ground for women’s golf in Maine, winning the first of her seven state amateur championships at age 15. She won four consecutive high school state championships between 1995 and 1999 before going to the University of North Carolina on a full golf scholarship. Spector won the 2001 New England Women’s Amateur championship, and now is the teaching pro at Riverside Golf Course in Portland.