Tabor Academy recognizes trailblazers at Athletic Hall of Fame induction

Oct 16, 2022

MARION — The legacy of Tabor Academy was well-represented at their Athletic Hall of Fame induction on Saturday, Oct. 15.

From current student athletes to alumni dating back to the 50s, multiple generations gathered to share stories, jokes and memories.

Laughter and cheers could be heard echoing around the Fish Athletic Center on campus as they honored inductees from 2020, because the previous ceremony was postponed due to covid, and 2022.

“It’s really great that we get a lot of current student athletes here too,” said Director of Athletics, Kelly Walker. “It’s so important for them to hear about past experiences.”

Event organizer Sophie Arnfield smiled fondly as visitors came up to admire a table set up with memorabilia, including old newspaper clippings, photographs, and a slideshow of the 1947 Boys’ Henley Crew’s trip to England, one year after World War II.

“This is just really nice,” Arnfield said. “People like to be remembered.”

While Tabor itself was founded in 1876, the Athletic Hall of Fame was formed in 2016. The program was established by Dick Duffy, a 1956 graduate who joined Tabor’s staff in 1969, wearing many hats from running a dorm, coaching football and baseball, and serving as Dean of Students.

“It was the right calling for me,” he said of his more than 50 years at the school.

He’s affectionately called “Duff” by many of the inductees, most of whom couldn’t help but mention him in their speeches, even if they were not coached by him.

Duffy is part of the 11-member Athletic Hall of Fame committee, which chooses new inductees every two years.

“It’s an old school,” Arnfield pointed out, referring to the difficulty of choosing the inductees. “There’s a lot of history to work with.”

Inductees are divided into three categories: coaches, teams and individual athletes.

The inductees for 2020 coaches include Roderick Beebe, who coached crew and football but was heavily recognized for beginning the tradition of taking the crew to the Henley Royal Regatta in England, and Bruce Cobbold, who coached cross country, track and girls’ crew.

Cobbold was the founder of cross country at Tabor, and led what former members of the team described as “a ragtag group of runners” to many successful wins.

The inducted team for 2020 was the 1947 Boys’ Henley Crew team, who triumphed in three races before losing to American rival, Kent School.

In the first competition following World War II, British teams had a rationed diet. In the spirit of sportsmanship, the students from Tabor Academy did the same. Faculty member Noel Pardo, who presented the award, stated that the boys were “always hungry” on the trip and lost weight.

“The British themselves were all for the Tabor boys – the only [of the] foreign entries that lived exclusively on British rations during the regatta,” read a clipping of an article from the Associated Press.

Inducted athletes for 2020 were Spencer Gray, class of ‘57, who captained both tennis and basketball teams during his tenure at the school; Jean Roy, class of ‘80, who holds the school’s hockey record of 102 points in 40 games; and Loren Milhench le Gassick, class of ‘85, who competed exclusively against boys as a female member of the golf team — and won.

The inducted coach for 2022 was Joan Roller, who coached girls’ lacrosse and girls’ basketball, notably as one of the first female head coaches who played an instrumental role in making Tabor a coeducational school.

Roller joined Tabor’s faculty as one of only two female classroom teachers in 1970. As a female coach, she took the reins in both girls’ basketball and lacrosse, Roller described herself as a “mentor” to the younger coaches that joined the staff in the wake of her hard work.

The inducted team for 2022 was the 2002 varsity girls’ basketball team, which went undefeated with a record of 25-0. It was the first time the team won the championship in the Class A Division for the sport.

Head Coach Will Becker said the girls “set a precedent” for all future teams, who have advanced to the finals 16 times since and won seven championships.

The individual inductees for 2022 were James Henry, a class-of-‘75 athlete who became Tabor’s first heavyweight Class A champion for wrestling and brought the entire team to a win; and Leon Hayward, a class-of-‘98 athlete who was a trailblazer for black athletes at Tabor as the first black member of the varsity boys’ hockey team.

“I cannot help but be impressed by the depth and breadth of the athletic excellence here at Tabor Academy,” said Head of School Tony Jaccaci.