BELFAST, Maine — One of Maine’s legendary high school wrestling coaches has turned in his whistle after 45 years, opting instead to play with trucks.
Well, not exactly.
Ted Heroux, who has guided the Belfast Area High School wrestling team since 1967, decided just before the start of the season not to return for one more winter after a recent visit with his cardiologist.
“I’ve had some health problems and my energy had been pretty low so I decided it was a good time to step away,” said the 70-year-old Heroux.
One of Heroux’s former state championship wrestlers, Rick Kelley, has taken over as the Lions’ head coach, aided by veteran assistant coach Keith Holland and Travis Spencer, who became the first Belfast wrestler to win four individual state championships while wrestling under Heroux between 2006 and 2009.
“That’s a good group of coaches,” Heroux said. “They should have a pretty good year.”
As for Heroux’s future, he’ll continue to be around the sport, taping and offering color commentary for weekend meets that will be broadcast on a local cable access television channel.
He’ll also spend more time indulging in his hobby of rebuilding trucks, specifically 1962 Chevrolet pickups. Heroux already has reserved the one he’s currently working on for his great-granddaughter, 3-year-old Kaeyln.
“By the time she gets ready to drive it will be waiting for her,” said Heroux.
Provided Heroux is as successful rebuilding Kaelyn’s pickup truck as he’s been as a wrestling coach, it should be quite the hot rod.
Heroux guided the Belfast wrestling program to a 602-168-3 record, eight Class B state championships, six state runner-up finishes, 11 Eastern Maine Class B titles and 13 Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championships.
“It’s a huge loss,” said Belfast athletic administrator Mark Babin, whose school also recently lost 40-year varsity field hockey coach Allen Holmes to retirement. “Teddy’s had a tremendous impact on wrestling in Eastern Maine over the years.”
Heroux, a 1961 Belfast graduate, played football, basketball, baseball and track and field at his alma mater. He also was an active boxer while growing up, winning a Golden Gloves championship in the welterweight division.
Heroux was introduced to wrestling while in college, and not long after graduating he took over the wrestling program at Belfast.
Heroux was a five-time KVAC coach of the year and a three-time Maine coach of the year honoree, and he coached three New England champions — his grandson Kote Aldus, Dennis Sprague and Brent Waterman. Sprague won the 132-pound state title in 1972, Aldus the 160-pound crown in 2008 and Waterman the 132-pound championship in 2012.
Heroux also coached 71 individual state champions from Belfast, including another grandson, Kornealius Wood, who won the 171-pound Class B title in both 2009 and 2011.
“I’ve had a lot of good memories,” he said. “I had a great chance to coach both grandsons, it doesn’t get much better than that as far as family and coaching goes.”
He guided Belfast to Class A state championships in 1969 and 1970 and Class B titles in 1986, 1987, 1994, 1995, 2008 and 2009.
“I’ve had some great wrestlers, but it takes a group of great wrestlers to win a state championship,” said Heroux, who also served as an assistant football coach at Belfast for 25 years.
Heroux was a 1999 inductee into the Maine Amateur Wrestling Alliance Hall of Fame and last March was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame.