VPA announces dozen new members to Hall of Fame

The Vermont Principals' Association will enshrine a dozen new members — seven student-athletes, three coaches, one administrator and an official — into its illustrious Hall of Fame for the 2023 class.

The annual ceremony will be held on May 12 at the Capitol Plaza in Montpelier. There will be a social hour held at 5 p.m. and dinner to follow at 6, according to a news release.

Tickets are $50 and can be purchased at https://vpaonline.org/athletics/vpa-hall-of-fame/.

The Hall of Fame was established in 2001 and has honored more than 280 individuals who, “through distinguished service and achievement, have excelled in one or more high school athletic programs or activities sponsored by the VPA.”

Persons eligible for nominations include: school administrators, coaches/activity advisors, officials, athletic/activity participants, media and contributors.

This year’s class:

Coach/advisors

Dan Gandin, U-32

▶After 40 years of coaching, Gandin finished as the winningest coach in Vermont basketball history with a 634-257 record. His coaching excellence included four state titles with U-32.

Richard “Dick” Wilcox, Proctor

▶Wilcox led Proctor basketball from 2000-2012, winning five Division IV state titles for a 200-68 record. The Mendon native won 95 games in a row and was named coach of the year twice.

Jay Wilson, Mill River

▶The Rutland town coach spent time with Mill River, Rutland, Proctor and Fair Haven over an extensive 48-year career. With Mill River he was an assistant coach in the 1985 Division II state soccer championship and basketball state championships in 1982 and 1989. Wilson was Division II boys’ basketball coach of the year in 1989.

Official

Paul Trono, St. Albans

▶With five decades of experience in Vermont high school football and lacrosse, Trono is considered a top official with numerous playoff assignments and state title games. He has also served in many roles with the Vermont Lacrosse Officials Association Executive Board, including serving as Secretary/Treasurer. He was one of the first lacrosse officials in the state.

Administrator

Bob Johnson, Danville

▶Johnson served as Associate Executive Director of the VPA for 19 years. But before his time with the VPA he had stops as a guidance director, coach, athletic director and principal. Johnson added dance, ultimate frisbee, bass fishing, bowling, snowboarding and unified basketball as VPA-sanctioned sports over the nearly 20 years of leadership. During his tenure, Johnson has been “the face of VPA sports,” according to the release.

Student-athletes

Meredith Bagley, Rutland

▶As a three-sport star, Bagley was a four-year starter in soccer and softball and earned all-state honors in both in 1995. She led Rutland to alpine ski championships in 1993 and 1994, winning individual championships in slalom and giant slalom each year. She went on to play soccer and softball at Harvard University.

Riley Blankenship, Lyndon

▶As a 2012 graduate, Blankenship was a two-time state champion in the shot put and javelin. Her track and field exploits also included a state title in the discus. Her championship pedigree stretched nto college where she was three-time national champion in rugby at Norwich University.

Rebecca Bright, South Burlington

▶Bright was a 1,000-point scorer for South Burlington and the University of Rhode Island, where she finished third all-time in points with 1,665. While at South Burlington she won state titles in the shot put and discus (1994-95). Bright, who was also an all-star field hockey goalie, reached the Final Four each season with South Burlington hoops.

Joe Shield, Brattleboro

▶Shield graduated in 1980 and is considered one the best three-sport student-athletes in school history. On the gridiron he led Brattleboro to the 1978 state championship and was a Vermont Shrine Bowl captain (1980). Shield, who was a career .400 hitter in baseball, played football at Trinity College and was a member of the Green Bay Packers (1985-86).

Bruce Stryhas, Black River

▶A 1962 graduate from Black River, Stryhas played soccer, baseball and basketball. He was Black River’s first player to score over 1,000 career points and attended the University of Connecticut for one year before transferring to St. Michael's College.

Ashley Valley, Rice

▶Part of a vaunted Rice girls basketball team in the early 2000s, Valley scored over 1,000 career points to steer the South Burlington program to two straight undefeated seasons and three Division I titles. Valley was a forward on Rice’s soccer teams that won state championships in D-I and II. Before graduating, Valley set the all-time program record for goals scored. She played basketball at the University of Connecticut and was a member of three national champion teams.

Morgan Valley, Rice

▶Considered by some as the most accomplished basketball player of all time from Vermont, Valley tallied over 1,000 career points for two championship teams. Valley played goalie on the Rice soccer team and won state titles in her sophomore and senior campaigns. Valley played 108 games for the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team and won three national titles. Sisters Morgan and Ashley enter this year’s Hall of Fame class together. Currently, Valley is an assistant coach for the Huskies.

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Contact Jacob Rousseau at JRousseau@gannett.com. Follow on Twitter: @ByJacobRousseau

This article originally appeared on Burlington Free Press: VPA announces dozen new members to Hall of Fame