By Wayne I. Elliot
Hampton Union, Thursday, January 23, 1964
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union.]
During one of the Winnacunnet High school basketball games last week, we were chatting with Leon Sicard. As we looked down onto the court and viewed all the boys in action, Leon commented on the fact that there is presently a wealth of athletic talent represented in our local boys and girls of today. We might add here that a couple of Leon's sons are among those talented individuals.
We could with very little difficulty write an entire column on just why there seems to be such an abundance of talent. Maybe we will at some future date. But this week we would like to say that as long as we can remember, there has always been athletic talent in the local region. Perhaps not in such great numbers as today for the simple reason that our towns were smaller populationwise;, but nevertheless there has always been an abundance of athletic talent.
Last week, we had the privilege of seeing a project completed which was initiated more than a year ago. All but three of the available original trophies of Hampton Academy and High school were delivered back to the Hampton Academy Junior High school for what we hope will be their final resting place. The other three trophies still remain to be repaired. Naturally, some of the originals have disappeared during the shuffle of the past years since the construction of Winnacunnet High school but there are still a goodly number of trophies remaining providing sufficient evidence of the past athletic material.
The venture of recovering and repairing as many of the trophies as we could has been a cooperative project of many individuals. Basically, the Alumni association sanctioned the repair segment of the project and put up the funds. The Hampton School District School Board and Principal Walter Brown have cooperated wholeheartedly In the program. The trophies are presently in an ideal trophy case located in the nurses' room at the Junior High School. Future plans call for the moving of the case to a more prominent display location making it more advantageous for viewing by the public through the years. We know there will be more trophies added to the case as the years go by.
My late boss, Ed Seavey and myself, served as the repair committee. Last week, Don Palmer, Alumni president, Al Carlson, vice president, together with myself turned the trophies over to Athletic Director John Peterson in the absence of Principal Walter Brown. Down through the years, it was players for both Principal Jack Brown, when he was coach, and for Coach Peterson who won a great number of these trophies.
It perhaps took longer - the trophies didn't come so rapidly as they seem to come today down at Winnacunnet - but nevertheless, the talent was there.
One of the most cherished of all the trophies and one of the first ever presented to the new Hampton Academy-and High school came when Hampton's first tournament team earned the honors back in 1940-41. The trophy, Southern New Hampshire Champions, bears the names of John LaTourette, captain, Earl Blatchford, Alcot Stover, Elliot Noyes, Eugene Keenan, Richard Carpenter, Hollis Blake, Richard Blake, Norman Merrill and Raymond Greeley, manager. The coach was Alex Sulloway. The late Dick Blake, who had his young life snuffed out during World War II after joining the Ski Troops, became an all-time Hampton great. Although an underclassman at the time, if memory serves me correctly, he was the first all-tournament player in Hampton's history to receive the honors up at the state tourney in Durham.
Alongside this trophy and donated on a temporary basis is the personal trophy of Alcot "Smokey" Stover, another of Hampton's greatest basketball players and also one of its finest all-around athletes. Each of the players received similar trophies during those first two great seasons of Hampton's fabulous basketball history.
The ball team of that era was known as "The Tall Towers". The group represented one of the tallest high school aggregations in the state at that time. Only Dick Carpenter was under the six foot mark. And speaking of Dick, as a sideline, you'll be hearing that name a great deal in the future with Dick's son already shaping up as a fine athletic prospect. And returning to Al Stover, I'm sure he'll be happy to hear that his nephew, Jan Staalenberg, is a mighty fine looking prospect. Jan, a sixth grade North Hampton student, is already showing signs of becoming a fine basketball player and all around athlete.
One of the most cherished items, an actual game football, was salvaged by Winnacunnet's present track and cross country coach, Harold Fernald and returned by Harold to the committee. Back in 1944, the then Buccaneers upset a highly ' favored Exeter team on a muddy field on Armistice Day at Tuck field. Score Hampton High 12 - Exeter 0. The win gave Hampton the 1944 Class D state championship. There is quite a story that goes with the game. The old, wooden goal posts were pulled down by Halloween pranksters a few days earlier and the heavy rains had left the playing field a quagmire. The day of the game dawned clear and cool. All morning volunteers worked - the volunteers being the 15 or 16 members of the squad of that year - with Coach Wes Root in erecting temporary goal posts and spreading sawdust and sand around the wettest spots on the field. By game time, the players were tired and I mean tired. But once the kick-off came, one would never have known it. Exeter was literally played right off the field.
That game ball was salvaged but was "kicked" around plenty from that point on. Some of the white paint has chipped off but the score is plainly visible with the names of the participating players also clearly legible. They included Captain Dick Grenier, lhb; Coach Wes Root; Dick Chevalier, rhb; Bill Powers, re; Dick Weeks, le; Don Palmer, It; Bill Mcllveen, Ig; Dick Higgins, center; Carroll Brown, qb; Wayne Elliot, fb; Tad Wilson, rg; Fred Russell, le; and George O'Brien, rt.
Each one of these trophies has an individual story to tell. 'Perhaps at some future date, we will be able to go back into the records of the UNION and bring you the achievements of these players and performers who won these coveted trophies and even perhaps of the persons and organizations who donated them. Whether they serve to recall old memories or stand for achievements for which they were given, they have returned "home" - "home" to Hampton Academy (Junior) High school. Next week, we'll give you a quick rundown on the remainder of the trophies won through the '50's prior to the inception of Winnacunnet High school in 1958. We will also bring you a few of the names on the trophies of the Most Valuable Player and similar awards.
Talent? Yes, plenty -- then as well as today.
Photo courtesy Lois (Allen) Page, Class of 1947.