May 15, 2021
I was probably the worst athlete in the history of Thornton Academy, some may argue that. However, I have a pretty good grip on that statement because I used to bring my own bat and baseball to pick-up games and I'd still be the last person picked. I never stopped trying though because I loved sports.
After I graduated from TA, I went to Bentley College and earned an Accounting Degree. I knew I didn’t want to do accounting right away so I bought a pizza place. After that stint, I spent some time behind the counter at Saco Main Street icon, Rapid Rays. After Ray passed, I started substitute teaching at TA with the intention it would be temporary. I’m 62 years old, and I’m still here.
When I was in high school, track had always amazed me. My homeroom teacher was the coach and he asked me to be the team's manager. I think what I loved most about it was that everyone participated and it didn’t matter if you were good or bad; the goal was to be better than you were in the last meet. Track, I learned, was a barometer for a person's character: as long as you continue to try to be better, that’s enough.
My role models were my Uncles and my Father, but my inspirations were former coaches Dick Agrestee and Paul Mondor. They embodied two of the most important characteristics every coach and educator should have: encouragement and compassion. They deeply cared about the kids, not just in the classroom, but beyond those 4 walls as well. Teachers and coaches alike instill values, and to me, I can’t think of many other careers that offer that opportunity.
I enjoy it all. When you have great teams and a chance to win championships, that’s obviously a good time. But, there are certain meets when kids step up and do better than they’ve ever done. Earlier this year, I had a senior score in a meet for the first time in his life. It’s not always about winning, it’s seeing the kids work hard and not give up. The reward isn’t always tangible and when you see that resonate with the athletes, that’s when you know you’ve made an impact.
The past year has been no doubt challenging, a year full of ups and downs. The first day we went out to practice, we were all so excited you could feel the echoing rejuvenation. The simplicity in restored togetherness and the positivity the athletes show revives your spirit.
- George Mendros, Thornton Academy Track