Sometime during the late ’70s or early 1980, Gail Jackson competes in a high school game for the Westbrook Blue Blazes. Courtesy photo

WESTBROOK — The Maine Basketball Hall of Fame inducted its most recent crop of honorees Aug. 18 and among the now-immortalized names sits a local legend: Gail Jackson.

Jackson, now Gail Jackson Wolff, graduated from Westbrook High School in 1980 after winning three straight State Championships with the Lady Blazes: 52-34 vs. Mt. Blue in 1978, 80-42 vs. Skowhegan in 1979 and 88-66 vs. Old Town in 1980.

A second look at those scores should tell you Westbrook was not to be trifled with in those days.

(Incidentally, the Lady Blazes also took home the gold ball in 1981 – but by a much narrower margin: 61-59 over Presque Isle. That was their most recent state title, though they did reach the Big Game in 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1998.)

“Archie Manoogian was a wonderful coach to play under,” Wolff says, deflecting attention away from herself – the best players usually do – when asked about Westbrook’s dominance during that era. “He really stimulated a team feel and motivated us to be the best that we could be. And we had fun doing it.”

(The Manoogian name is itself a Westbrook basketball institution, of course.)

“It’s all about team, not me,” she says. “Our team, the 1980 team, was inducted last year into the Hall of Fame, which was awesome. I saw a lot of my teammates last year.”

“My first championship was probably one of the sweeter ones,” she says, asked if any of the state finals in which she appeared stood out in her memory. “I don’t think we were expected to win, if I remember correctly.”

“There’s nothing like the feeling of winning [a state championship],” she says. “And you don’t forget it. It makes you have self-confidence, in a way, for the rest of your life.”

Wolff’s efforts on behalf of WHS earned her a full scholarship to play at the University of New Hampshire, where she majored in physical education with exercise physiology as a specialty, graduating in 1984.

And in fact, Wolff remembers her college years more vividly than her high school years. “I think because you have like, what, 100 games in four years in college, I don’t really remember a lot about high school games.”

“I have a lot of memories of college, both good and bad,” she says. “My coach had my number there, so it was a challenging four years. But it made me tougher. It wasn’t all about fun anymore.”

Now, 35 years later, she’s still on more than one of the Wildcats’ top-20-of-all-time lists: She’s 15th in scoring, having hashed 1,081 points in her tenure, and fifth in rebounding, with 747.

Unsurprisingly, then, Wolff is also a member of the UNH Sports Hall of Fame, into which she was inducted in 2004.

“We won the Eastern Championship my junior year, 1983,” Wolff says. “It’s the only year UNH ever won. But at that point, you didn’t get an automatic bid, so we didn’t get to play at Nationals.”

After leaving UNH behind, Jackson spent a year at the University of Maine Orono, working towards a master’s. She then moved to Georgia, Vermont, where she completed her advanced degree (in education – exercise physiology). She’s lived there ever since.

She married Peter Wolff and they have three kids: Abbie, Andy and Nick.

“They’re all in their 20s,” Jackson says of her brood. “And I coached them all in basketball – Andy never played basketball; I coached him in soccer.”

Besides spending some time as a coach, Jackson, a nurse now, has been involved with her community elsewise, too. “I’m actually the Georgia Recreation Committee chair, and have been for – I think it’s – 12 years.”

Naturally, she still plays: She’s in a competitive women’s basketball league in Burlington.

The Maine Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

Adam Birt — 207-789-9086

[email protected]

Twitter: @CurrentSportsME


Comments are not available on this story.