If it takes five years or 30 to get there, the Husky Hall of Fame is worth the wait

Friends and family congratulate Todd Miranda on his induction into the Husky Hall of Fame for his achievements in basketball.
Todd Miranda (back row, second from left) celebrates his Hall of Fame induction with friends and family.

Acceptance into the Husky Hall of Fame is special when it comes in the first year of eligibility. But when the wait lasts more than 30 years, the feeling might be even better.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Todd Miranda. “I’m humbled and I’m honored to be part of this.”

Miranda entered the hall on October 15 alongside six fellow greats from the history of University of Southern Maine athletics. After a dinner at the Italian Heritage Center in Portland, the inductees received their trophies one-by-one. No one waited than Miranda longer for their moment at the podium.

Miranda played basketball from 1986 to 1990. His teams were always competitive, but the post-season run in 1989 was next level. The Huskies won the LEC championship and then made a run at the national title, finishing third in the NCAA Division III tournament. Miranda was a major scoring threat, as evidenced by his 1,163 career points.

Despite his impressive credentials, Miranda was missing one important requirement for Hall of Fame eligibility. He left school to enter the workforce before completing his degree. Miranda went on to build a career in the fields of lending and real estate. Despite decades of professional success, he felt something was missing.

Miranda re-enrolled and graduated last January with a degree in Business Administration. Getting into the Hall of Fame was his initial motivation. But over time, his course work took on added meaning.

“The fact that I went back for my degree ended up being the exciting part of all this because the sense of accomplishment of finishing something,” Miranda said. “I want my kids to see that and I want my parents to see that. And now they all can see me not only get recognized for my athletic achievements, but I have a diploma now that goes with it and it really makes me feel good. It’s the best part of the story.”

Jackson Deupree steals the show during the acceptance speech by his father, Jonathan, into the Husky Hall of Fame for achievements in wrestling.
Jackson Deupree steals the show during the speech by his father, Jonathan.

Even a few minutes to give a speech was too long for Jonathan Deupree to be apart from his family. His young son, Jackson, followed him up to the podium and claimed the Husky trophy for his own. But once the novelty wore off, Jackson surrendered the trophy and grabbed on to his dad’s leg instead.

While occasionally running a calming hand through his son’s hair, Deupree shared a few favorite memories of his stellar wrestling career. He won back-to-back NCAA Division III Northeast Regional Championships in 2014 and 2015. His career record of 66-11 benefitted from a strong finish with at least 20 wins in each of his last two seasons.

After graduating in 2015 with a degree in Business Management, he returned to USM as an assistant coach in the wrestling program. He still mixes it up with his players in practice. They can attest that he’s every bit as tough on the mat as he is gentle with his son.

Volleyball isn’t considered a contact sport in the same way as wrestling, but don’t tell that to Jess Williamson. During her turn on the podium, she talked about one of the most memorable shots of her career. By bouncing it off the head off an opposing player, she sent the message not to get in her way.

Williamson holds the program record for most career kills (1,849), kills per set (4.423), and attack attempts (4,499). She’s the only Husky to surpass both 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs over the course of her career. And she’s the only Husky in program history to earn Little East Conference Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Jess Williamson joins the Husky Hall of Fame for her accomplishments in volleyball.
Now a veterinarian, Jess Williamson helped deliver 12 Dalmatian puppies before attending the Hall of Fame ceremony.

The level of skill it takes to reach those milestones only comes with intense training. Williamson loved to see how far she could push herself. Daily practice sessions weren’t enough for her. When friends wanted to find her, they knew to look in the gym.

“I absolutely loved being there,” Williamson said. “If somebody else is like me in that sense, whatever sport it is, whether it’s volleyball or something else, if you want to be there, then just spend the extra time there.”

Her busy workout schedule didn’t detract from her studies. She graduated in 2018 with a degree in biology. She’s now a practicing veterinarian, working toward a certification in small animal surgery. Shortly before attending the Hall of Fame ceremony, she helped deliver 12 Dalmatian puppies.

The career path that Molly Carl would pursue took several cues from her USM coach, George Towle. Under his guidance, she ran her way to All-American honors in both cross country and track and field. The LEC named her Track Athlete of the Year in 2012 and Cross Country Runner of the Year in 2013.

It’s wasn’t just the miles she covered on foot that she loved. Carl developed a love for travel on trips across the country to meets in places like Green Bay, French Lick, and Salem, Mass. In her speech, Carl credited Towle for broadening her world view by making each road trip an adventure.

“I just had so much fun as a student-athlete,” Carl said. “My coach made it so much fun to be a part of the team. The whole experience was amazing.”

Carl has tried to provide the same experience to the next generation of runners. She supplemented her 2013 Anthropology BA with a master’s degree in Exercise Science and Sports Studies. Carl went on to coaching jobs, first at Smith College and then at Agnes Scott College.

Chris Burleson joins the Husky Hall of Fame for his achievements in baseball.
Sportscaster Dave Eid introduced Chris Burleson (shown here) with an anecdote about being wowed by his baseball talent while he was still a Deering High School student.

The roster of inductees being honored at the ceremony also included standouts in women’s ice hockey (Holly Manning Russo ’05) and baseball (Chris Burleson ’13). As host, WGME sportscaster Dave Eid handed each of them their trophies.

Eid upgraded his usual congratulatory handshake to a hug for tennis star Tyler Adams ‘17. Their meeting at the podium was a reunion of Adams’ wedding, where Eid served as officiant.

The ceremony was also a chance to thank several people who have made a major impact on USM Athletics. The Costello Special Achievement Award was given posthumously to Tom Underwood. John Chandler received the Clifford Weiden Award. And the David Drew Service Award went to Jim Ward for his decades of work in the broadcast booth as the play-by-play voice of Huskies ice hockey.

The Husky Hall of Fame was founded in 1985. With the new inductees, the total membership stands at 251 athletes and coaches representing the best of USM Athletics.