LR Hall of Fame welcomes five new members

 

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

They all followed different career paths.

Brian Clement is a senior vice president at RBC Wealth Management.

Kevin Hancock is president of one of Maine’s top lumber products company.

Sandy Kobrock continues to pursue her love of the great outdoors by owning and operating the Wolf Creek Avalanche School in Colorado.

Chris Whitney, an engineer, works at AeroVironment in New York, where his focus is on the development of future electric and hybrid vehicle charging equipment.

And father, Ken Whitney, left the coaching ranks after a successful decade run and now shares his love of the outdoors as a fly-fishing and bird hunting guide in Maine and Colorado.

Despite their very different professions, each possesses a common thread — their educational experiences at Lake Region High School greatly influenced their future successes.

Each spoke about how their time at Lake Region shaped them both personally and professionally during their induction last Friday night into the Lake Region H.S. Athletic Hall of Fame.

The five inductees (see accompanying biographies) were the third class to enter the “Hall.” During their acceptance speeches, each inductee talked about how parents, coaches and teachers at LRHS made a major impact in their lives.

BACK IN THE DAY — Brian Clement

Brian Clement cited how older players, like Kevin Hancock and Chris Whitney, “were role models and set great examples, both athletically and in terms of how they conducted themselves as people.”

He added that it “is tremendously gratifying to be inducted at the same time as Coach (Ken) Whitney, who outside of my family, he was the most meaningful, influential male figure in my life at that time, in the formative years. Coach taught me organization, commitment, accountability, work ethic, the list goes on and on. He even taught me about frugality.”

He also noted fond memories of Coaches Art Kilborn (football) and Jim Quinn (track), along with the support he received and lessons taught by his parents. Brian recalled a basketball game in the seventh grade, which he “acted like an idiot” in response to a no-foul call at the end of the game, a Laker loss. Instead of agreeing with his son that the referee made a bad call, Brian’s dad told his his behavior was “unacceptable.” Today as a parent and coach, Brian remains thankful that his father set the right example.

“I was fortunate to be coached by outstanding coaches, surrounded by great teammates and fortunate to go to a great high school that had a culture of winning and a culture of support by the community. Really, I feel I am the fortunate one, blessed beyond belief,” he said.

Kevin Hancock appreciated the people “who went before me who did things the right way.” He spoke about what he learned from Coach Whitney and what he learned from playing sports.

“Maine doesn’t have a better coaching family than Ken and Linda Whitney. What a great coach Ken Whitney is and what a better person. The words that come to mind when I talk about Ken Whitney are discipline, knowledgeable, very competitive, very loyal, very smart understanding and handling people, a very high value of the people he is going to associate himself with, and a very refreshing person,” he said.

BACK IN THE DAY — Kevin Hancock

Two key points Kevin remembers from his time under Coach Whitney include understanding one’s role for a team to be successful and the importance of becoming a quality individual.

Suffering two major injuries — a dislocated shoulder his junior year and an ACL tear his senior year during the last quarter of a preseason game — that sidelined him during basketball season were actually moments Kevin would not trade. Why? “I learned you don’t always get what you want. I also learned you’re identity needs to be something bigger than sports…I also learned you just don’t quit. The idea never came into my head.”

Despite some recent struggles at LRHS, Kevin said, “I am proud to be a Laker. I’ve never flinched on that. There is no newspaper clipping, no test score release, no public hearing that made me flinch on that. I wouldn’t have wanted to go to any other public school, and it is the only public school in the State of Maine that I would coach for.”

Sandy Kobrock said athletics was and still remains a “huge part of my life.” “I continue to introduce people to the joys of movement and play. That came from my parents who were very active and very supportive of us as kids,” she said.

“As a student-athlete, it was important that we won but it wasn’t the whole deal. It was also important that we were good people. It was important that we were honest and did our best,” she said. “Linda Whitney was an amazing coach…She taught us it was important to do our best. Have integrity. She held us to that.”

When Sandy attended Skidmore College, she met many girls who had attended private schools. She found that what she learned while at Lake Region “more than put me in good standing academically with them.”

BACK IN THE DAY — Coach Ken Whitney

“I was so proud to have come from a small high school in Maine, and not only had been a good athlete but a good student,” she said. “I’ve carried this ‘Maine’ attitude with me my whole life…I’ve had a fabulous life…All the things that have happened here (LRHS), being a member of National Honor Society, being in the Varsity Club, all prepared me to go out in the world and do what my heart wanted. I am very thankful for what happened here...Lake Region is a special place. Maine is a special place…I am proud to be a Laker.”

Chris Whitney felt his induction into the Hall is not an individual award, but a reflection of many exceptional coaches, educators, teammates and even opponents. He mentioned former Athletic Director Peter James, who emphasized sportsmanship; Principal Rick Sykes, who he termed as “straight as an arrow, top shelf”; and Ted Nutting, “who taught me you could be a sportsman and a gentleman, yet still be very competitive”; Coach Tom Murphy, who was a teacher, a mentor and fine example.

Chris also credited the efforts of teachers who guided him and nurtured his interests in math and science, which ultimately led him to an engineering career.

In talking about his parents — Coach Whitney and Coach Whitney — Chris said his mother knows the word “fear” but “appears to never let herself use it.” He felt his parents’ work ethic and competitive nature molded him into the person he is today.

Ken Whitney spoke emotionally about a number of outstanding athletes and “good people” he had the privilege of working with and developing friendships, many of which have lasted years and years.

The induction ceremony will be aired on Lake Region Television.

Brian Clement

Inductee: Brian Clement

Class of 1986

Brian participated in four sports while at LRHS —football, cross-country, basketball and track and field.

He played football his senior year. Despite beginning three games into the season, Brian was nominated as an all-conference player.

He finished third in the conference meet in cross-country his sophomore year and participated for two seasons in that sport.

In basketball, Brian played all four years. He was the starting point guard for three seasons, a member of the 1985 state championship team and earned all-conference honors in 1986.

In track and field, he participated all four years, collecting tremendous achievements along the way such as the Triple C record holder in the 800 meters, 1986 State Champion in the 800 meters (missing a state record by 3/10 of a second), Triple C and Western Maine Champion, and also a All-American Honorable Mention in the 800 meters.

To demonstrate how well rounded Brian was, he was his class president all four years, a member of National Honor Society, named captain of his basketball and track teams, and earned the top male athlete billing by his senior classmates.

After high school, Brian continued his education at Colby College. While at Colby, Brian participated in basketball, track and field and rugby for two years.

He continued his tremendous success in track and field where he won a State of Maine Championship in 1988, running the 800 meters, as well as, finishing third at the NESCAC Championships.

Brian continued his academic achievement by earning dean’s list honors his junior and senior years.

Currently, he works at RBC Wealth Management, as a senior vice president. He has been there for 21 years.

He and his wife, Carolyn, have three daughters, Aly who is a junior at Catherine McAuley High School, Sara who is a freshman at McAuley, and Camille who is in fourth grader. They currently reside in Falmouth.

 

Kevin Hancock

Inductee: Kevin Hancock

Class of 1984

Kevin participated in three sports at LRHS — football for one season, basketball for four seasons and baseball for four years.

As a junior, Kevin led the Laker basketball team to the Western Maine Finals. At the end of the season, he was recognized as a Triple C All-Conference recipient. This was a tribute to Kevin’s abilities because he missed half the season due to a dislocated shoulder. Unfortunately, Kevin suffered another injury — an ACL tear — that prohibited him from playing basketball his senior year. Despite missing action on the court, Kevin was named captain by his teammates. He was also a member of the National Honor Society and was vice president of his class all four years.

After graduation, Kevin attended Bowdoin College. There, he played basketball all four years, twice he was voted his basketball team’s “spirit award” winner which was symbolic of his leadership abilities, enthusiasm for the sport and teammates. Kevin was an All-Conference CBB recipient, which was given to five players selected from Colby, Bates and Bowdoin. In fact, the Hancock family held 40% representation with that select group, because (brother) Matt also was selected. Also during his senior year, he was selected as the team’s captain. He set records in 3-point field goal percentage and number of made 3-point shots, and was the president of his fraternity.

Kevin then pursued his passion and accepted a job coaching basketball at Bridgton Academy in 1988. He considered leaving Bridgton for a coaching position at Illinois State University, but ultimately decided to remain close to his grassroots. Kevin began working for Hancock Lumber in 1991. He worked various positions before becoming the company president in January of 1998. Since that time, Hancock Lumber has expanded its services and acquisitions, and has seen a huge growth in sales under Kevin’s leadership.

Kevin remains the president of Hancock Lumber today. He has served on the board of several different organizations including the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association as director, chairman and chairman of the executive committee, as well as, the National Lumber and Building Materials Dealers’ Association as treasurer, HR Committee Chairman, and Board Chairman. In 2003, Kevin earned the “Lumber Person of the Year Award” given by the Retail Lumber Dealers’ Association of Maine. The Governor’s “Exemplary Volunteer Service Award” was bestowed upon him in 2009 and he also received “Distinguished Citizen” honors from the Boys Scouts of America. Kevin also was elected as a member of the Board of Trustees at Bridgton Academy and in 2007 became the president. Recently, Hancock Lumber was recognized as the “Exporter of the Year,” which was given by the Maine International Trade Center.

Kevin is a true leader and motivator. All of his accolades demonstrate his stewardship. But higher praise comes from all the student-athletes lives he has touched here. He has coached in SAD 61 from 1995 to the present.

Kevin and his wife Alison live in Casco with their two daughters, Sydney and Abby.

Sandy Kobrock

Inductee: Sandy Kobrock

Class of 1973

Sandy participated in three sports while attending LRHS — field hockey, alpine skiing and track and field. She was a member of the varsity squad all four years in all three sports. At the same time, Sandy attained an “A” rating in an international equestrian organization, with only 89 others in the United States at the time.

Sandy earned State Ski Meister honors in 1973 and won multiple races at the state level in alpine skiing. She also achieved many wins at the state level in the 220-yard dash (which back in the day, the races were measured in yards not meters), 440-yard relay and the 50-yard hurdles. She was a three-year captain in skiing and track and field. She was a member of the National Honor Society.

After graduating in 1973, Sandy attended Skidmore College and the University of Oregon earning a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and Coaching. She participated in field hockey for two years at Skidmore and skied her junior and senior years at the University of Oregon.

She then began instructing an outdoor program in Eugene, Oregon where she started a women’s outdoor program in 1980 for the Eugene Parks and Recreation Program that continues 32 years later. Sandy’s motivation was to introduce women to outdoor adventures.

In 1982, Sandy moved to Lake Tahoe, Calif., where she spent winters as a professional ski patroller at Squaw Valley, home of extreme skiing and the largest avalanche control program in the United States. She was the first woman to lead avalanche control teams, the first woman supervisor, and the first to lead the technical cliff rescue and avalanche training at Squaw — certainly a pioneer for women who seek outdoor adventures across the United States.

During the summer months, Sandy directed mountaineering courses for Outward Bound in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California and the Oregon Cascades, as well as, Outward Bound’s Rogue River rafting courses.

In 1992, Sandy and her husband Mark moved to southwestern Colorado, where they live today. Sandy directed the professional ski patrol at the Wolf Creek Ski Area. She left ski patrolling in ’97 to work as a corporate trainer. She founded, owns and operates the Wolf Creek Avalanche School, teaching avalanche awareness and decision-making skills for winter backcountry travelers.

If you don’t all ready have a clear visual, Sandy is an avid outdoors person. A couple of winters a go, she and Mark completed a 70-mile ski adventure along a remote section of the Continental Divide in Colorado.

Sandy attributes her love for athletics and the outdoors to her parents’ love of skiing and horses; Maine’s early adoption of interscholastic girls’ sports, and Coaches Linda Whitney and EJ Bosworth.

Chris Whitney

Inductee: Chris Whitney

Class of 1981

Chris participated in basketball and Track & Field while a student at LRHS.

Chris is the son of Lake Region Hall of Fame coaches Linda and Ken Whitney.

Chris played freshman, junior varsity and two years of varsity basketball, and was co-captain his senior year.  He was a member of the National Honor Society and selected to attend Boys State his junior year.

His senior year in basketball, Chris was the MVP of the Fryeburg Christmas Tournament.

He played JV baseball his freshman year, and then ran track his junior and senior year. During his senior year, he ran the 100-yard dash, setting a school record and finished fifth at the State Meet. In the 200, Chris posted a then school record of 22.5 seconds and finished third at the State Meet. He also set a school record, at that time, for a high jump of 6-feet 2-inchess. Chris’ most treasured accomplishment during his senior track and field season was being part of the 4 x 100 relay team that set a Triple C record that stood for years.

After Lake Region, Chris was accepted into Worcester Polytechnic Institute. However, he chose to defer one year to attend Bridgton Academy.

At Bridgton Academy, he was on a basketball team that made it to the finals of the NE Prep Tournament. He also played on the tennis team and ran track, where he was undefeated in the 100-meter dash, and had six wins and a second place in the 200.  He graduated Valedictorian of Bridgton Academy’s Class of 1982.

Chris then attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute where he played basketball. The team made it to the Division III “Elite Eight” his junior year.  He was captain of the team his senior year and graduated from WPI with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering in 1986.

Upon graduation, Chris worked for 10 years as an engineer, mostly in defense and aerospace, in New York for the Army and Navy.

In 1995, Chris began working in marketing and product development in the Mercedes-Benz automobile industry. It was there that he increased their North American Accessories business over a five year period from $65 million a year to $165 million, launching 45 new products on the company’s new SUV. Chris also worked at SiriusXM with tremendous success and currently works at AeroVironment, where his focus is future electric and hybrid vehicle charging equipment. During his 17 years in the automotive industry, he has directly managed $860 million of business growth and has traveled extensively, including time in Europe.

Chris currently resides in Pine Bush, N.Y. with his wife, Kristine, and their son, Evan. They have a son Joe, daughter Kate, daughter Dana and son-in-law Daniel, as well as grandson Eli.

Ken Whitney

Inductee: Ken Whitney

Laker Coach, 1981-1992

Ken attended Bridgton High School (now Lake Region H.S.) where he earned 11 varsity letters and captained the cross-country, basketball and baseball teams. He was best known for his abilities on the court and was deservingly named to the Western Maine Basketball Dream Team Five by legendary Portland Sunday Telegram sports writer, Dick Doyle.

After high school, Ken went on to the University of Connecticut. As a freshman at UConn, Ken lived with Head Coach Hugh Greer. Ken was a part of three Yankee Conference Championships in which he played a significant role. He was named to the All-Academic team his senior year, and he received the “Chi-Phi Award” voted by his teammates, recognizing the player who contributes the most to team morale.

Two other highlights that Ken holds close to his vest is holding Dave Bing, who went on to NBA stardom, to just 6 halftime points and beating Bill Bradley’s Princeton Team to advance to the Eastern Regionals.

Upon graduation in 1966, Ken coached three years at RHAM High School, and completed his master’s degree before returning to Maine to begin a 12-year administrative and coaching experience at Bridgton Academy.

While coaching at BA, Ken won a New England Prep School Championship and qualified twice for the New England Prep Tournament, reaching the finals in 1972. His organizational and administrative skills were recognized by the Maine Association of Independent School Athletic Directors, where he served both as vice president in 1973 and president in 1974.

Ken made significant contributions as BA’s Director of Admissions and Financial Aid. Between 1974 and 1981, Ken designed and implemented a comprehensive admissions recruiting program that resulted in a rise in enrollment, and to this day serves as the blueprint for BA’s admissions operation.

Following his time at Bridgton Academy, Ken arrived at LRHS, which resulted in a 21-year career, where he served as the Health and Physical Education teacher, along with working as boys’ basketball coach for 11 years.

While coaching at LRHS, Ken created the Lake Region Basketball Academy for area youth and won a State Championship in 1985, knocking off Dexter after over coming a 12-point second half deficit. Six of Coach Whitney’s former players went on to captain their college teams.

During his teaching tenure, Ken designed and implemented the entire health education program.

When fellow inductee Brian Clement was asked about his former coach, he said, “He was a tremendous role model for his players by the example he set. He held himself to higher standards of integrity, work ethic and commitment, both to family and his team. He also set the bar high for his players because he wanted them to achieve more for themselves. Ken Whitney was not okay with mediocre effort or mediocre results. Outside of my family, he was the most influential male in my life and because he held himself to such high standards, I never wanted to let him down.  That shaped some of the decisions that I made, and kept me from making other choices that I would have regretted.”

Today, Ken is an avid outdoorsman. He guides clients in the act of fly-fishing and bird hunting in both Maine and Colorado. He is also a part-time LL Bean instructor in their Outdoor Discovery Program.

Ken lives with his wife Linda (also a LR Hall of Famer in Denmark, and they have two sons, Chris and Kevin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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