ORONO, Maine — Anita Murphy couldn’t help but be a little overwhelmed by the star power around her as she awaited to be introduced as part of the Maine Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2018 on Sunday

Never mind that Murphy, the catalyst behind Lewiston High School’s ongoing tennis juggernaut, had a resume befitting her presence among that group.

“It’s so hard to describe what this means to me, I’m very humbled,” said Murphy, who has guided the Blue Devils’ girls tennis squad to 12 state championships and was named the national girls’ high school tennis coach of the year in 2008 and 2011 while also spearheading the city’s successful recreation program for the sport.

“I can’t believe I’m in this class. When I walked in I started shaking, I was so nervous. Looking at everyone here and being with them, it’s unbelievable.”

Murphy is among 12 members of the Maine Sports Hall of Fame’s 43rd class, a cast that includes many still active in specialties ranging from basketball and football to mountain biking, endurance auto racing, gymnastics and skiing.

“What we simply decided to do was to honor the best of the best and the best of the best sometimes is of an age where it’s ongoing right now,” said Dick Whitmore, the longtime former Colby College men’s basketball coach and for the last seven years chair of the Maine Sports Hall of Fame.

“We felt that we shouldn’t be hindered by that aspect at all and that’s why we have the eclectic mix we have. It’s an amazing group.”

Best known among the inductees was actor Patrick Dempsey, the Lewiston-born star of TV’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” a veteran of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Rolex 24 at Daytona auto races, and founder of the Dempsey Challenge, an annual fundraiser in Lewiston that has raised millions of dollars to support a cancer support facility in the city.

“The big theme that you hear among all of the inductees is the importance of teamwork,” said Dempsey during his acceptance speech. “I stand here because I have a great team around me with the Challenge and with Porsche Motor Sports. With a great team you can achieve anything.”

Also inducted was Bobby Wilder, the former University of Maine quarterback who over the last decade has coached Old Dominion University football back from a 68-year hiatus to become one of the fastest-rising NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision programs in the country.

“As a boy growing up in Madison, Maine, I never imagined I’d be inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame,” he said. “I just wanted to play football and maybe go to college and get an education but one thing led to another and now being at Old Dominion and having the success we’ve had, it’s so surreal, it’s humbling. There are a lot of emotions right now.”

The new hall of fame class also spanned multiple generations, from 96-year-old Aroostook County broadcasting icon Dewey DeWitt of Houlton — still with the booming voice — to 36-year-old Jason Bartlett of Windsor, the former Erskine Academy and Southern Maine Community College basketball player who now ranks as one of the nation’s top harness racing drivers.

“I was doing well around Maine and New England and wanted to see if I could make it where all the best drivers and all the best horses are, and if I didn’t try I’d never know so that’s why I did it,” said Bartlett, the top driver at Yonkers (New York) Raceway in seven different years.

“This was my dream and I got there finally but I had a lot of help along the way, a lot of Maine people who trusted in my abilities.”

Other inductees were the late Bangor High School three-sport legend LeRoy Patterson; gymnast Kristen Kenoyer Woodland, a 16-time All-American and three-time national champion at the University of Utah and former member of the U.S. National Team; longtime Thomas College and University of Maine at Farmington men’s basketball coach Dick Meader; former U.S. road cycling and mountain biking national team member Tammy Jacques; former Colby College head trainer and two-time U.S. Olympic head trainer Carl Nelson; Dana Bullen, president of Sunday River Ski Area; and Reagan Carey, general manager of the U.S. National Women’s Hockey Team that captured the gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Carey became the third member of her family inducted into the Maine Sports Hall of Fame, along with her grandfather, the late Wendall “Chummy” Broomhall in 1979 and aunt Liz Carey Butera in 2000, both for cross country skiing.

“To be able to look up to them all my life growing up and to be able to accomplish some things that are worthy of being here is a true honor,” she said.

Steve Jones, the veteran equipment manager at the University of Maine, became the fifth recipient of the Maine Sports Hall of Fame’s Lifetime Achievement Award, while the NCAA Division III Frozen Four-qualifying Colby College men’s ice hockey team and the America East conference champion University of Maine women’s basketball team were presented the hall’s “A Better Maine Through Sport” awards.

Five graduating high school seniors — Jessica Brown of Portland, Shelby Cowin of Greenville, Luke Groothoff of Yarmouth, Jacob Martin of York and Annika Rogers of Isleboro — were recipients of the Maine Sports Hall of Fame scholar-athlete awards.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...