Bangor’s Jonathan “Gabby” Price, who coached the Bangor High School football team to state Class A titles before resurrecting the Husson University program and turning it into a playoff team, is among the 10-person 2023 class for the Maine Sports Hall of Fame.
The group, which will be inducted on Oct. 28 at the Merrill Auditorium in Portland, spans nine sports and includes Susan Elias of Readfield, who was once the nation’s top-ranked cyclist, a two-time sailing Olympian David Hughes of Yarmouth and St. Joseph’s College baseball coach Will Sanborn, who recently reached an 800-win milestone.
Price was the head football coach at Bangor and at Husson for two different stints at each school. He was the coach at Bangor from 1976 to 1984, winning championships in 1979 and 1981 before returning from 1992 to 2000. He led the Rams to an overall record of 129-52-1, with his teams earning 15 playoff berths in 18 years and playing in six state championship games.
Husson restored football in 2002 and the Eagles began varsity play a year later. Price guided them for six years. They went 25-28, including a 19-10 mark over his last three seasons. He stepped down after the 2008 season after Husson went 7-3 and earned a berth in the ECAC Division III Northeast Bowl.
In 2013, he returned to Husson and piloted them to a 47-17 record and four NCAA Tournament appearances, plus a trip to the ECAC Clayton Chapman Bowl in 2015. They won five Eastern Collegiate Football Conference championships and he was a four-time ECFC Coach of the Year. He was the New England Division II/III Coach of the Year in 2017 after a 10-win season.
He played football, basketball and baseball at Bangor High and then played all three sports at Bridgton Academy before playing football at Rutgers University and the University of Maine.
“He touched so many lives, not only in coaching but in all aspects of life,” said Husson football coach Nat Clark, who played for Price at Bangor, then coached with him at Bangor and Husson. “He gets the most out of people in every situation.”
Price was humbled by the news, saying he did not anticipate it. The 73-year-old said he had exceptional support at both schools, and he never could have accomplished what he did without the support of Mary, his wife of 50 years.
“We had excellent players who were also tremendous human beings,” he said. “Coaches don’t win games, players win games.”
He will be joined by Elias, Hughes and Sanborn, as well as distance runners Bob Hillgrove from Rockland and Kim Moody from Gorham; Cape Elizabeth basketball star Biz Houghton, Westbrook wrestler Ben McCrillis, skier Howard Paradis from Madawaska, and Winslow’s Mike Siviski, who coached his alma mater’s football team.
Elias was an outstanding track athlete and bicyclist. As a bicyclist, she was ranked No. 1 in America, No. 3 in the world and finished fourth in the Tour de France, a race she competed in three times. She won several prestigious races and was named VeloNews’ U.S. Woman Athlete of the Year. During her track career at UMaine, she set records in the 880, 800-meter and 1500-meter runs along with the mile while also contributing to records in three relays.
Hughes captained the sailing teams at Yarmouth High and the University of Southern Maine and was a two-time Olympian who was also a one-time Olympic coach. He is a four-time world champion and has won the World Cup, North American and U.S. National Sailing championships multiple times. He is vice president of the U.S. Olympians and Paralympians Associations.
Sanborn recently became just the 27th coach in NCAA Division III baseball history to reach the 800-win plateau. Through March 15, he had posted a record of 801-431-6 at St. Joe’s in his 31 years at the helm. The only current coach in New England with more wins is University of Southern Maine coach Eddie Flaherty, who has over 1,000 victories. Sanborn has won 21 championships and been named Coach of the Year six times. He was a former standout player at Bonny Eagle High School in Buxton and St. Joseph’s, where he still holds three records.
Hillgrove won a whopping 503 road races including a string of 49 straight. He won every major race in Maine and won the master’s division of the prestigious 10-kilometer Bolder Boulder race in Colorado.
Moody was a highly successful runner in the 1970 and 1980s and won the Chicago National Championship 50-miler in 1983, running the second fastest time ever by an American and third fastest time in the world. She was a multi-time winner of the Casco Bay and Maine Coast marathons and qualified for the Olympic marathon trials in 1984 and 1988.
Houghton was an all-state basketball player at Cape Elizabeth who went on to lead Boston College in scoring, rebounding and shot blocking as a junior. She played professional basketball in Ireland and won an Irish National Cup with Castledermot. She played for the Maine senior women’s basketball team and they earned a silver medal at the National Senior Games.
McCrillis was a state high school champion who won 123 matches at American International College in Springfield, Mass. He was a four-time all-conference wrestler, and qualified for the NCAA championships three times. He captured three national titles and was the AAU world champion. He qualified for the 2008 Olympic trials and reached the semifinals.
Paradis coached the Madawaska High School girls and boys ski teams to 15 and 9 championships, respectively, and also produced 15 Maine skimeisters. He also led the effort to build Mt. Carmel near his home in Frenchville as well as the cross country trails which became Four Seasons.
Siviski led Winslow High School’s football team to 287 wins, 11 regional championships and seven state titles during his 35 years. He was also a three-sport standout at Winslow before playing football at the University of Maine.