UMaine honorees deserving

Posted Nov. 03, 2009, at 11:26 p.m.

One was witty and gregarious. The other was quiet and unassuming.

But once the game began, they transformed themselves into game-changing athletes.

Brad Colton was the left fielder for the University of Maine baseball team and Keith Carney was a defenseman for the Black Bear hockey team. Both were All-Americans and played on nationally prominent teams.

They were two of the six people inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame last weekend along with swimming star Krystal Fogler, basketball-football standout Roger Lapham, women’s basketball coach Joanne Palombo-McCallie and track captain William Calkin.

Colton was a character.

His sense of humor kept the locker room loose and created a valuable camaraderie.

That bond was reinforced when he stepped between the white lines.

He became a quiet leader, one who led by example through his talent and his passion for the game.

He was one of the best clutch hitters in the history of the program and will always be remembered for his base hit that ended the 18-inning marathon 5-4 win over Providence in the ECAC playoffs.

The game ended at 3:05 a.m.

His throw to the plate had gunned down a runner earlier to preserve the 4-4 tie.

He had a great arm, exceptional instincts as an outfielder and deceptive speed.

Colton was also credited with a classic line about the memorable game as he asked the late Wes Jordan, the Black Bear trainer, if it was as hard for a hitter to pick up the baseball out of the pitcher’s hand at dawn as it was at dusk.

Colton played in three College World Series.

Carney was a big, rangy defenseman with terrific hands who could pinpoint a pass with the best of them. He had wonderful ice vision and he could also be physical if necessary.

He once threw a high-scoring forward to the ice like a rag doll early in an NCAA tournament victory, and the late Maine coach Shawn Walsh credited Carney with setting the tone for the triumph with that exhibition of physicality.

Carney played in two Frozen Fours in his three seasons and played for the United States in the 1988 Olympics.

Like Colton, Carney was very popular among his teammates.

He always had a grin.

Carney went on to have an impressive 1,099-game NHL career and he received a ton of recognition as a shutdown defenseman when the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim reached the Stanley Cup finals against New Jersey in the 2002-2003 season.

In fact, Carney led the Ducks in the playoffs with an average of 26 minutes, 39 seconds of ice time per game.

Then you look at the rest of the Hall of Fame class and it’s quite a group.

The intense Palombo-McCallie led the Black Bears to six consecutive NCAA tournament appearances before going on to greater fame at Michigan State and, now, Duke. She set high goals for herself and the program and wouldn’t be deterred.

Lapham was one of those unique athletes who not only played two sports but also excelled in both, becoming the first Black Bear to be drafted in two sports.

Fogler holds a number of school records and was a two-time America East Swimmer of the Year. She went on to start the Husson University women’s swim program.

Hurdler Calkin won several Yankee Conference events and was one of the school’s top point-producers at those meets.

It was certainly a class that richly deserved its honor.

They provided some lasting memories.

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