Local sports history: A walk through Spartan past

Matt Dietrich (left) and Craig McCauley celebrate White Mountains' first-ever baseball championship title in 1987. File Photo. (click for larger version)
August 03, 2015
REGION — One thing the White Mountains Regional High School is not lacking in is school pride, and a trip down memory lane is all the proof you need. Spartan fever began long before both the Whitefield and Lancaster high schools joined forces in 1967.

The oldest yearbook the district has in its possession is the 1958 Lancastarian that offers a glimpse into sports life from years gone by. Throughout the years it's interesting to look back at the changes in society however the culture surrounding athletics remains the same as does the local rivalries.

Another notable discovery is how athletic ability is passed down from generation to generation. The same last names that were scattered throughout sports headlines and school yearbooks seem to weave themselves in and out of Spartan history.

Collecting dust was an old Whitefield high school yearbook that revealed some interesting local sports history. "The Boys' baseball team under coach McKinney won the league championship with a record of 11 victories and one defeat for 1939 and 1940. The success of the team was partially due to the fine pitching of Robert Canton and an outstanding catch in the outfield by Herbert Hennessey."

The Pirates out of Whitefield High had several strong seasons across the board.

In 1948, when Rita Hayworth was the fashion icon of the year and the Toronto Maple Leaves won the Stanley Cup, the Whitefield High boys' ski team won every single meet at Mount Prospect.

In 1952, the year American Bandstand debuted on T.V., the Pirate boys' basketball team won the state championship under the coaching of Richard Healy.

In 1953, the girls' basketball team, coached by Miss Harrigan, was runner-up in the Ammonoosuc league.

The following year in 1954, the girls' basketball team won the league championship under the coaching of Douglas McIntyre.

Pat McIntyre set an all time record for Whitefield High girls' basketball when she scored 1,079 points in four years of high school and Ida Blakeslee was close behind with 789 points.

In 1960, when Muhammad Ali won the light-heavyweight gold medal at the Summer Olympics, the girls' basketball team from WHS coached by Douglas McIntyre, played 32 straight games undefeated through the 1961 and part of the 1962 season becoming champs in both '60 and '61.

In 1965, the same year the Boston Celtics won the NBA championship, Whitefield High's soccer team, coached by Bruce Currier, defeated Colebrook in the playoffs before Hanover defeated WHS.

The 1967 boys' basketball team bounced back from their first defeat by Lancaster to defeat their old rivals for the last time before the two towns would become one.

During the fall of 1967, high school students from Lancaster and Whitefield walked through the doors of White Mountains Regional for the first time and together they began to lay the groundwork for what we now see as the strength and spirit of Sparta.

In 1969, during the Woodstock era complete with bell-bottoms and protests, White Mountains put their name on the map after the boys' soccer team became the state champions. Thirteen years later in 1982, the soccer team again took home the state championship banner.

The year 1980 brought the Spartans their first-ever state championship honors for wrestling ,followed by another first place banner in 1981.

In 1983 while kids were rocking out to Van Halen and President Reagan was America's Commander in Chief, the Spartan boys' basketball team won the state championship game.

The boys' soccer team in 1983 did not score a single goal during their regular season, however made it to the playoffs, losing the game in a shootout, due to the fact that they did not have penalty kicks back then.

In 1987 the Spartans brought home the school's first-ever baseball state championship banner. White Mountains Vice Principal Mike Curtis remembers it well, "I do remember the baseball team that year was seeded 11th in the state when they won it and Rick Bedell was tremendous on the mound throughout the playoffs."

More history was made in 1987 after the track team under the coaching of Rick Welch brought the school its first-ever track state championship win.

The female athletes at White Mountains were not to be taken lightly, in 1989 they brought home the first ever girls' Nordic championship.

Field hockey at White Mountains didn't become a key sport until 1974 with coach Nancy Colborn at the helm. A description of the girls' successful season in the yearbook reads, "The White Mountains field hockey team ended their season with a 6-5-0 record. All through the season the team showed great desire and determination. The highlight of the year was the game against Berlin when both teams were forced into four overtime periods. Both teams decided on an experimental tiebreaker, which resulted in a 1-0 loss for White Mountains. With only four seniors leaving, their hopes look high for another successful season next year. A great number of girls participated in JV field hockey. The girls showed great promise and should contribute greatly in the future."

Spartan pride is something that is etched in the fabric of the students, staff and community and will undoubtedly continue to contribute to the success of athletics at White Mountains.

Look for more local sports accolades and athletic honors from years past in future editions of the Democrat.

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