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Honorees (top row, l-r) Patty Sheehan, Michelle Labbe Hunter '01, Sara McNealus Radamus '79, and Nancy Henderson, and (bottom row, l-r) Tod Hart, Kristy Laramee Kerin '01, Jack Sheehan, and Gordi Eaton '62.

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Athletics Hall of Fame Inducts Six New Members

November 9, 2016


MIDDLEBURY, Vt. — The Middlebury Athletics Hall of Fame, now in its third year of existence, inducted six former student-athletes and coaches during a festive awards ceremony and dinner on November 5 in Nelson Recreation Center.

With more than 200 alumni, faculty, coaches, staff, friends, and family members in attendance, the ranks of Middlebury’s Athletics Hall of Fame grew to include 21 luminaries in the field of sports. The newest inductees were four men and two women whose excellence in a combined eight sports spanned the decades from the 1940s to the 2000s.

The Hall of Fame commemorates the athletic performance and service of alumni, coaches, administrators, and staff dating back to the 1880s for men, when baseball emerged as the first varsity sport, and back to 1934 for women, when the ski team held a carnival for athletes of both genders.

Erin Quinn '86, director of athletics, welcomed everyone to the gathering and read a message of greeting from President Laurie L. Patton, who was traveling on Middlebury business out of the country. Quinn intruduced the new Hall of Fame members:

Gordon “Gordi” Eaton ’62 officially graduated in 1965 after his academic career was interrupted three times while he represented the United States in alpine skiing at the Olympics and World Championships. Eaton placed second among all U.S. finishers (and 17th overall) at the 1960 Olympics at Squaw Valley, won the NCAA downhill crown in 1961, and qualified for both the 1962 World Championships and 1964 Olympics.

AD Erin Quinn '86 (left) and Terry Aldrich (right) present the award to Gordi Eaton '62.

Eaton was introduced by former Middlebury ski coach Terry Aldrich, now retired, who said Gordi’s name was legendary in the alpine ski world in the 1960s and whose induction is “a testament to the aura and respect he earned from his peers.” Eaton ascended the podium to a standing ovation (which the appreciative crowd accorded to every honoree) and said, “I have been very lucky, fortunate, blessed for so many wonderful associations and unbelievable opportunities in my life” including “great upbringing, wonderful friends on my journey around this world, and many lessons learned from inspirational and dedicated teachers and coaches.” 

Tom Hart ’56 is the leading rebounder in the history of collegiate basketball. He holds the NCAA all-division single-season rebounding-average mark with 29.5 caroms per game in both 1954–55 and 1955–56, as well as the NCAA’s all-time career rebounding average of 27.6 per game. He scored over 1,000 points in his three-year varsity career and averaged 16 points per game. In track and field Hart set school records in both the pole vault and high jump, and his high jump mark of 6 feet 4.5 inches stood for more than 50 years.

Karl Lindholm ’67 introduced Hart and said “he could be called the greatest all-around athlete to ever attend Middlebury College.” Lindholm noted that Hart excelled in the pole vault, high jump, long jump, javelin, and 100-yard and 200-yard dashes, and termed his accomplishments “astonishing.” Hart, who passed away in August, was represented by his son Tom (“Tod”) Hart Jr. The younger Hart said his father was a “humble man who rarely spoke about his accomplishments” in sports, except to say that his Middlebury coaches, teachers, and fellow athletes “gave him a rock solid foundation for a successful life.”

Donald Henderson ’49 captained Middlebury’s 1948 national championship team and competed in all four events: slalom, giant slalom, Nordic, and ski jumping. He coached skiing at the Holderness (N.H.) School from 1951 through 1969, and his skiers represented the United States at eight consecutive Winter Games starting in 1956. Henderson assisted the legendary coach Bob Beattie ’55 at the Innsbruck Olympics in 1976 and served as head coach of the U.S. team at the 1982 World Championships in Italy.

Middlebury’s current alpine skiing coach, Stever Bartlett, introduced Henderson, who is now 92 years old and unable to travel. Bartlett spoke with the honoree by telephone and said that Henderson reminisced about the pre-Snow Bowl days when Middlebury skiers would hike up Chipman Hill and ski (or ski jump) down. Henderson was probably “the finest four-event skier in history,” Bartlett said. The honoree’s daughter, Nancy Henderson, who accepted the pewter plate emblematic of the Middlebury Hall of Fame on behalf of her father, said the honor was a fitting culmination to his “happy life of skiing.”

Kristy Laramee Kerin '01 still holds the NCAA Division III high jump record.

Kristy Laramee Kerin ’01 won the NCAA high-jump championship three times and her leap of five feet 11.25 inches at the 1999 Division III Nationals still stands as the meet record. She earned All-American honors six times in indoor and outdoor track and field and still owns the NESCAC high-jump record after winning the title in each of her four years. Also an outstanding basketball player, Kerin holds school records for most blocked shots in a game (10), season (85), and career (97), despite playing just two seasons.

Track and field head coach Martin Beatty ’84 spoke about Kerin’s leadership skills on the track teams of the late 1990s and early 2000s. “She not only inspired her teammates as an athlete, she also encouraged them and pushed them,” Beatty said. “She loved her team and her coaches. She loved competing. And she loved being a leader. She would have been a great coach and I was fortunate to have her coach for us (as an assistant track and field coach) the year after she graduated.” Kerin thanked Beatty (“he embodies the spirit of Division III athletics”), her husband, Dave, who was her collegiate high-jump coach (“for helping me build strength, discipline, and coordination”) and her mother and father (“for all the sacrifices you made for me”). She also saluted four Middlebury faculty members—Brett Millier, Deb Evans, Kyoko Davis, and Holly Allen—for inspiring her.

Sara McNealus Radamus ’79 won the NCAA championship in the giant slalom in 1979, finished in the top four at the Nationals in slalom three times, and placed in the top five at the Nationals in giant slalom all four of her years. A four-time All American in alpine skiing, Radamus was also a four-year member of the women’s tennis team playing the number one or number two spot during her years on the court.

Teammate Dani Virtue ’82 said Radamus “symbolizes everything that’s great about women’s athletics at Middlebury. She is competitive, but she makes competition fun.” Virtue called her “a ferocious athlete,” “a consummate competitor,” and “our champion, our leader, our friend.” Radamus spoke about how it felt to be included along with such “esteemed” company and gave a Top 10 list of “why I am being inducted into the Middlebury Hall of Fame.” Her list included “a fortunate car accident”; her teammates, coaches, brothers, and sisters; her husband, son, mother, and father; and the simple fact there was no Internet in the 1970s.

Robert “Bobo” Sheehan ’44 was a standout athlete in football, skiing, and baseball who returned to Middlebury after his service in World War II to coach the men’s skiing program for 20 years. During his tenure the men’s alpine squads won national championships in 1948 and 1949, captured 11 Eastern Championships, and won the Middlebury Carnival 10 times. He was honored to coach the U.S. Men’s Alpine Ski Team at the 1956 Olympics. Sheehan also coached the Middlebury baseball team for 11 years, in addition to stints coaching football, golf, and tennis.

Sheehan, who passed away in 1999, was introduced by one of his admiring skiers, John Morton ’68, who said “Bobo had an easygoing sense of humor [and] rarely got rattled.” He would tell us “to kick down hard, boys, and make it work,” Morton recalled, and while “his coaching style seemed hopelessly haphazard at times,” Sheehan “showed us that skiing should always be fun.” The pewter plate for Bobo Sheehan was accepted by his daughter, the legendary professional golfer Patty Sheehan, and son, Jack Sheehan. Both children spoke about the lives their father touched with humor and grace, and how loving, kind, and thoughtful he was.

Bill Mandigo introduced Michelle Labbe Hunter '01.

One member of the Middlebury Athletics Hall of Fame who could not attend her own induction in 2015, Michelle Labbe Hunter’01, was also honored at the 2016 event. An extraordinary ice hockey player, Hunter was a three-time All American and the Division III national player of the year in 2001—one of Hunter’s two seasons that ended in winning the national championship. She led her teams to an 89-8-1 record, a mark that includes not a single loss to a Division III team, and she holds the school record for most assists (132) and points (240) in a career and is second all time in goals with 108.

Women’s ice hockey coach Bill Mandigo introduced Hunter and said the first thing he noticed was her “speed, determination, and grit” on the ice. Teamed up with Middlebury’s all-time leading goal scorer Sylvia Ryan ’00, the powerful duo scored over 300 points playing together. Mandigo recalled how Hunter’s voice “could be heard all over the ice,” and added, “I am thrilled that Michelle is the first women’s hockey player to be inducted in the Hall of Fame.” Hunter remarked “how much fun it is to be back in this room”—the former Nelson Arena—“where we had 7 a.m. practices in the cold.” She expressed admiration for Coach Mandigo “who always told us that wearing the Middlebury jersey is not a right, but a privilege,” and whose lessons about “working toward a common goal with people you admire and respect” have carried over to her life today.

The director of athletics, Erin Quinn, closed Middlebury’s third annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony by paraphrasing John F. Kennedy: “Tonight Middlebury College revealed itself by the men and women it honored, and the men and women it remembered.”

— Photography by Teddy Anderson '13.5

4 Comments

Bobo was just a great guy to know. He helped my dad Harris build our kitchen cabinets and later, for many years, brought his truck and transported my mom's golf cart back and forth to the golf course for her each season. His kids are all great athletes, and even better people.

by Bill Thurber '76 (not verified)

As focused and talented as Gordi Eaton was as an Olympic skier, his steely dedication as a Middlebury student and gladness to meet his friends make him all the more outstanding. Surely his coach Bobo would have approved! Both are a lesson to us all today.

by Howard Mettee, '61 (not verified)

Someday I hope to see Steven Hauschka's name - he's the kicker for the Seattle Seahawks - in this list. As a Seahawk fan, I was so pleased and proud to learn of his Middlebury roots.

by Jane Sutherland (not verified)

I had the good fortune of knowing Don Henderson and Gordi Eaton even before I matriculated to Middlebury (Class '63). Don was a beloved history teacher and head ski coach at Holderness School, Plymouth, NH. He had a Prep School championship ski team which included Gordi ('65) and John Clough ('63).

by Richard Floyd '63 (not verified)

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