MCI christening sports hall of fame Saturday

Posted Sept. 16, 2010, at 9:32 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 16, 2010, at 10:28 p.m.

PITTSFIELD — Pride in the sports teams runs strong at just about any high school and Maine Central Institute is no exception. On Saturday, the school will begin an era of honoring that tradition in perpetuity with the creation of a sports hall of fame.

Those who enter the school’s Wright Gymnasium building are already greeted by long cases packed with trophies and plaques recalling winning seasons and championships. Now as they descend a stairway to the gym floor itself, the faces of some of MCI’s most notable athletes and coaches will stare back at them.

“It’s a way to honor people from the MCI family for their achievements,” said Director of Athletics and Activities Earl Anderson. “It will help people reconnect with the schools.”

Between the recommendations of a committee and input from MCI alumni, there were more than 100 nominations. A committee of MCI officials and community members chose six inductees, who will be honored Saturday during a ceremony that is part of the school’s Homecoming Weekend. Beginning next year, only four will be inducted annually.

This year’s inductees are:

The late Malaka “Tookie” Russell, who moved to Pittsfield in 1956. Russell, previously a former professional softball player, coached the MCI women’s field hockey team for 30 years, the girls’ basketball team for 22 years and the softball team for 29 years. She was the school’s interim athletic director in the mid-1970s — one of only two women in Maine to fill that position at the time, according to a press release. She helped found the Pittsfield Little League in 1958 and was actively involved in girl scouts and the Women’s Maine State Golf Association. Russell, who died in May at age 90, won numerous awards for her coaching and community service over the years, including MCI’s non-sports Hall of Fame.

Albert Card graduated from Paris High School in western Maine before attending MCI in 1948-49 as a postgraduate. Card played football, basketball and baseball at both Paris and MCI, helping MCI’s football team with the state title after an undefeated season in 1948. Card went on to an illustrious football and basketball career at the University of Maine before two years in the Army. He returned to Maine and began a long coaching career with MCI’s postgraduate football and baseball teams. He later became head football coach and director of education at Cony High School in Augusta until his retirement in 1991. Through more than three decades of basketball officiating and baseball umpiring, including at the professional Triple-A level, Card was honored multiple times at the state and New England level.

Thomas “Skip” Chappelle graduated from Old Town High School in 1957 before attending MCI in 1958 as a postgraduate. His illustrious basketball career earned him accolades through his educational career, including 12 scoring records at the University of Maine, some of which still stand. He led the Yankee Conference in scoring through two seasons at the University of Maine. Chappelle was drafted by the St. Louis Hawks and later had a tryout with the Celtics before returning to Maine for a successful and decorated stint of coaching, including 17 years for Maine men’s basketball.

Max Good attended MCI as a postgraduate in 1961. After college, he began a long career of coaching basketball at the high school and college level, including 10 seasons as MCI’s postgraduate basketball team. Good’s MCI teams enjoyed three undefeated seasons, including 79 straight victories beginning in 1989. After MCI Good moved to the college level and is currently coaching basketball at Loyola Marymount University. Among his honors was his 2005 induction into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame for his success at MCI.

James Caron Butler attended MCI for two years, graduating in 2000. After an impressive freshman year playing for the University of Connecticut, he represented the United States in 2001 on a winning FIBA World Championship team. He returned to UConn team for a year before being drafted by the NBA’s Miami Heat in the first round. He has also played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington Wizards and currently is small forward for the Dallas Mavericks. His many accolades include two stints as an NBA All-Star and a 2006 “Good Guys” award from The Sporting News for his charitable endeavors.

Bruce Stafford graduated from MCI in 1965 having lettered in football, basketball and baseball. He was captain of all three teams in his senior year and led the basketball team to MCI’s first Eastern Maine basketball tournament. He played both football and baseball at UMaine, and had an earned run average of 1.50 as a pitcher his sophomore year. After college Stafford spent many years coaching Little League and Babe Ruth baseball and served on numerous boards and committees in the Winslow area, including the Winslow Town Council. He currently coaches the Winslow High School golf team.

Seats at the Saturday’s 5 p.m. induction ceremony at MCI’s Furman Student Center are nearly sold out, but tickets may be available prior to 2 p.m. today by calling 487-4461 or emailing kkitchin@mci-school.org. The cost of the ceremony is $20.

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