The Maine soccer community suffered a blow on Oct. 12 when former Mount Desert Island High School coach Tom Savage died from a work-related accident on Route 102.
He was 46.
The Northeast Harbor native captained the 1993 Mount Desert Island High School soccer team and went on to earn all-star honors that season.
He played college soccer at Maine Maritime Academy in Castine and at Husson University in Bangor. Savage went on to coach the MDI High School girls team from 2004-14.
Presque Isle High School girls soccer coach Ralph Michaud said the news of Savage’s death broke his heart.
“He was one of the nice guys in sports. He was a great guy,” Michaud said. “He was the type of guy that after a game between the two of you, win or lose, you would like to go out and have a beer with him and talk about the game. Unfortunately, we lived too far apart.”
Orono High School girls soccer coach Cid Dyjak called Savage’s death tragic.
“I not only knew him as a coach but I knew him from his days at Husson and playing summer league soccer,” Dyjak said.
“He was a wonderful, wonderful individual. He always had a smile on his face and he had a wonderful spirit. He was a very positive guy.”
Michaud and Dyjak both complimented Savage’s coaching. Michaud recalled some innovative pregame drills MDI players used to perform.
“They were neat drills and I thought I would steal some of those from him. And they didn’t always involve soccer balls,” Michaud said. “He had one drill with these poles and his players would sprint between them. It was a drill for agility and quickness. I had seen football players do it.”
MDI athletic administrator Bunky Dow said Savage sometimes used unconventional methods if they would yield results for the athletes.
“He was always researching different ways to help kids improve. So he would try some unique drills and techniques and they paid off,” Dow said. “Kids enjoy trying different things rather than doing the same old things over and over.”
Dow said Savage worked extremely hard and wouldn’t hesitate to seek advice. He described him as an old-school type of coach who was willing to adjust to the new style of play.
“He got the most out of the kids he coached. Under his leadership and guidance, they left the program much better than they were when they started,” said Dow, who also praised Savage’s work in the community.
“He saw value in everybody. He was a very successful businessman who took on people with troubled backgrounds and helped them become successful,” Dow said.
Savage was a licensed arborist who established Savage Forest Enterprise.
Dyjak remembers the days watching Savage as a college player.
“He was a hustling, gritty guy who was full of energy. He played with a lot of heart,” Dyjak said. “He was a never-say-die kind of player. Who wouldn’t want to play with someone like that?”
Off the field, Savage had lots of interests.
He was an active outdoorsman who enjoyed a wide variety of activities such as biking, boating and ice skating.
He was a co-founder and treasurer of the Asticou Connection Gallery, a trustee of Forest Hills Cemetery, and he served as the president of the Lions Club.
He also held a 100-ton operator’s license from the United States Coast Guard.
“He always gave back to the community both as a businessman and a coach. His teams did a lot of volunteer stuff in the community,” Dow said.
Savage is survived by his wife Meghan and three daughters: Brooke, Helayna and Maisie.