Saturday, March 8, 2014
On June 22, The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram will honor the state's best high school athletes at our annual banquet. A player of the year for each sport will be honored and we'll name our male and female Athletes of the Year. What makes this year so special is that it's the 25th year of honoring Maine's best, so we will be catching up with all our Athletes of the Year since the first banquet in 1988. Today, we honor the winners from 1990.
Christina Strong D'Appolonia
CHRISTINA STRONG D'APPOLONIA, Georges Valley High
IN HIGH SCHOOL: Chris Strong was a three-sport dynamo at Georges Valley High of Thomaston, now merged with the former Rockland High and renamed Oceanside. She played on the boys’ soccer team at Georges Valley, a Class C school. There wasn’t a girls’ team at the time. “It was a challenge. It seemed like I was marked all the time. The fans were always saying stuff on the sideline. I took a lot of flack.” In basketball she averaged 22.5 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists and 6 steals in her senior season. She played basketball with the same tenacity she displayed on the soccer field. “I think I left a little flesh and blood from my knees on the court.” She was a champion 400-meter hurdler in track, placing seventh in national Junior Olympics competition.
SINCE HIGH SCHOOL: Strong was an established leader on the University of Maine women’s basketball team when Joanne McCallie arrived to begin her coaching career. Cindy Blodgett was still playing basketball at Lawrence High. Strong graduated and then entered law school. She is not practicing law today, instead concentrating on a new business and career as a personal trainer, starting Strong Bodies LLC, a fitness and training center in Yarmouth. She’s also a mother and youth basketball coach.
WHAT IT MEANT TO WIN: “It was an out-of-body experience. I was so happy, so proud. I knew there were a lot of good athletes around me. I knew there were so many people who affected my life.”
DAN LADD, Oxford Hills
IN HIGH SCHOOL: Whether it was putting a golf ball in a cup or a basketball in a hoop, Dan Ladd had virtually no peers in his senior year. He won the schoolboy golf championship at Springbrook Country Club in the fall of 1989. In basketball, he was the team’s point guard who hit 3-point shots and foul shots with remarkable accuracy. In one game late in January, he was 26 of 32 from the foul line in a 78-72 win over Morse, ending the Shipbuilders’ 45-game win streak at home. Ladd scored 43 points in that game. Overall, he was a 43 percent 3-point shooter. He led Oxford Hills to the 1990 Western Maine basketball championship. In the spring he played baseball on a team that went deep into the playoffs.
SINCE HIGH SCHOOL: Ladd chose golf over basketball. In the summer of 1990, before entering the University of Virginia, Ladd was third in the Maine Amateur. He was runner-up a year later and won in 1993 at age 21. He became the leader of the Virginia golf team. He played professionally on minor tours briefly after college. In 2009, Oxford Hills retired his basketball jersey, No. 22. A father of three young children, Ladd and his wife moved from Massachusetts to southern California in the past year. Ladd is the senior sales director of Cobra Puma Golf, a golf equipment and footwear company.
WHAT IT MEANT TO WIN: “I remember being so honored and feeling so lucky,” said Ladd. “Golf is such an individual sport, but I played on two teams and you think of all the teammates you played with since you were in third grade. Competing as I did in Maine was such a great way to grow up.”