LYNDON CENTER, Vt. — Three former student-athletes were inducted into the Lyndon Athletics Hall of Fame Friday. The class included Gordie Pierce '73 & '84, Ruth (Taclof) Haskell '87 and James Nelson '01.
Gordon L. Pierce '73 & '84
"I don't know where he developed his people skills - in the mud holes of Vietnam as a Special Forces soldier, in his many years of classroom teaching, or in his years on the coach's bench - but he surely is one of the most remarkable students of human nature I have ever known."
- Keith A. Gould, Professor Emeritus, Norwich University
Pierce graduated from Lyndon with a Bachelor's degree in Physical Education in 1973 and a M.Ed. in Counseling/Education in 1984. He played collegiate soccer for four years, basketball for two years and baseball for three years. As a student, Pierce was active as president of the Physical Education Majors Club and president of the graduate student body.
Pierce began working as a teacher and coach in 1972, retiring in 2005 after 33 years. From 1973-1976, he worked at Whitcomb High School and Bethel Elementary as the athletic director and physical education teacher. He coached boys' varsity soccer, basketball, and baseball.
From 1976-1989, Pierce worked for the Danville School as athletic director and physical education instructor. There he also coached boys' varsity soccer, basketball, and baseball. Danville School was named the first Physical Fitness Demonstration Center by the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness during Pierce's tenure.
Milestones in his coaching at Danville included a state championship in soccer in 1987, and state runners-up in 1984, 1986, and 1989. He coached the boys' varsity basketball team to victory in two state championships (1982, 1989), and runners-up in 1981 and 1988. His boys' varsity baseball team was the runner-up in the state championship game in 1979. In addition to coaching these three sports, Pierce was the coordinator of the grade 3-12 School Gymnastics Exhibition for five years.
In 1989, Pierce moved on to work for the Chelsea Public School (K-12). He was the athletic director and physical education instructor. He also served as the boys' varsity basketball coach. Pierce rounded out his teaching career with Who's Who Among Outstanding Educators honors in 2003 and 2004.
Over the course of Pierce's coaching career, he accumulated over 300 basketball wins, over 160 soccer wins, and Vermont Coach-of-the-Year recognition in both1988 and 1989. Fifteen letters of recommendation were submitted in support of Pierce's induction into LSC's Athletic Hall of Fame, many of which came from former players.
Many of them recalled Pierce's philosophy on conditioning – "legendary workouts" - and how it prepared them to overcome not only their athletic opponents, but life's challenges down the road. Darren White '84 shared, "Athletes who played on his teams still talk of the intensity and passion which was instilled in them by Gordie during our years with him. He expected us to give the best we could give for our team and we, in turn, respected his passion, energy, dedication, and fairness shown to us. I believe we all learned from Gordie that as individuals we were able to push ourselves to limits we never imagined possible."
Pierce resides in Danville, Vt. with his wife, Elaine '76.
Ruth Taclof Haskell '87
"Ruth stood out on several teams during her time at Lyndon. She was as team player and responded well to coaching. She was fun to have on the team!"
- Jamie Owen, former coach
Haskell earned a degree in physical education at Lyndon. She was a three-sport student athlete. She played field hockey and basketball for four years, and softball for three.
Haskell and her field hockey teammates advanced to the championships her freshman year, and she ended her career on a high note as captain and Athlete-of-the-Year during her senior year. She and her basketball team did not advance to post-season play, but remained focused on attaining a respectable record.
Haskell served her team as captain as well. In softball, she served as captain and turned many heads with her ability to hit home runs. She was so good that her opponents would intentionally walk her and then try to recruit her.
Haskell was also very involved with the College's intramural program as a student. Eric Berry '91 recalls, "She was a riot, always smiling, and 110% about sportsmanship all of the time!"
Upon graduation, Haskell began her career as a physical education teacher at Bellows Falls Union High School. During this time, she was the assistant coach of the varsity field hockey team for seven years, winning two state championships. After being laid-off, Haskell went on to work 13 years in adult education and continued building her coaching career.
Haskell was a varsity softball coach for three years and umpired girls' varsity for two years. She coached junior high basketball and field hockey as well.
In 2001, Haskell moved on to Springfield Union High School to work as a health and physical education teacher. She is the assistant coach of the girl's varsity field hockey team and has served as a class advisor at Springfield since 2001. Haskell is also the community service coordinator for the school.
Haskell has been a volunteer for the Springfield Recreation Department since 2001. She created a field hockey program for the department and ran it for six years. Haskell has also coached basketball and softball for the department, volunteering every season since 2001.
Despite being very busy as a coach, Haskell has found time to compete. She played in an adult softball league out of Keene, N.H., and made two trips to national tournaments.
Haskell resides in Springfield, Vt. She is the proud mother of stepson Nate, and daughters, Jessie and Kaylee. Her husband, Gary "Moe" Haskell, passed away in May 2009. He was a football referee and baseball umpire for 30 years.
James F. Nelson '01
"Coach never uses excuses, always listens to ideas, cares deeply about his players, loves to compete, and preaches academic excellence as well as outstanding citizenship." - Patrick Rainville, former player
Nelson graduated from Lyndon with a degree in elementary education. As a student, he was a stand-out basketball player. He was a four-year starter and served as captain for three years.
Nelson accumulated numerous accolades during his collegiate basketball career to include All-Tournament Team, All-Conference Team, NAIA All-American Scholar-Athlete, and numerous Mayflower Conference Scholar Athlete designations. He reached the 1,000 points milestone on January 29, 2001 on the home court against St. Joseph's College of Vermont.
At the conclusion of his senior year, Nelson and his teammates brought home the Mayflower Conference Championship - the first and only conference championship for the men's basketball program.
Nelson graduated cum laude and has put his Lyndon education to use at a few local schools thus far. He began as a first grade teacher at the Lyndon Town School. From there, he moved on to the Danville School as a seventh grade math/science teacher. His high school alma mater, Blue Mountain Union School (BMU), is now the recipient of his talents.
Nelson has worked at BMU as a fifth to seventh grade math teacher, as a Title I math teacher, and now as a third and fourth grade teacher.
After graduating from Lyndon, Nelson immediately set out to establish himself as high school boys' basketball coach. He has been the varsity boys' coach at Danville School for the past 10 seasons. Under his leadership, his teams have advanced to four final fours and two championship games.
He received the Coach-of-the-Year Award for Division IV for the 2005-2006 season and earned his 100th win during the first game of the 2009-2010 season. He has organized a summer basketball program for Danville high school students over the past 10 summers. Nelson career record to date is 135-88, a noteworthy achievement as his record after the first two years was 6-37.
In March 2010, Nelson and the Danville boys' basketball team faced off against his college roommate, Ira Wheeler '00, and the Twinfield Trojans in the state championships where they came out the runner-up.
Nelson assisted in starting and continues to work for a soccer program for three to seven year olds and a kindergarten - second grade basketball program, both at BMU. He also coaches little league T-ball for the school and is an avid chaperone for school field trips, both as a teacher and parent.
Nelson served as a camp counselor at LSC's Hornet Hoop Basketball Camp for five years and has played in eight of the last 10 alumni games.
Nelson resides in Ryegate, Vt. with his wife, Christy '03, and his daughters, Kolby and Kyra.