RDHS graduate inducted into USM Hall of FameSusan (Ware) Page among Huskies' all-time greats
Gorham — Being named to the hall of fame of a school or organization is perhaps the most significant achievement a former athlete can receive.
For former Rockland District High School and University of Southern Maine basketball standout Susan (Ware) Page that dream became a reality with her induction into the Husky Hall of Fame Sept. 29 during the school's banquet and induction ceremonies.
Page was one of seven inductees for various sports. Page was honored for her performances on the basketball court.
"This recognition is something I never expected to get," said Page. "Then when I received the phone call from [USM] athletic director Al Bean, I was really surprised. It's a wonderful honor and I'm certainly very appreciative of it."
Page, who graduated from RDHS in 1995 and from USM in 1999, with a degree in business administration, received the phone call about her induction near the end of August.
She was inducted by USM women's basketball coach Gary Fifield.
"I feel very fortunate that Susan chose to attend the University of Southern Maine and play for our women's basketball program," said Fifield. "I couldn't have been happier or prouder that Susan received this honor."
Page was an integral part of the Huskies' success over the years and, as a junior, was a key member of the1998 team that competed in the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III basketball championship.
The Huskies led the game at halftime and then, despite trailing by 14 points, nearly rallied before falling to Washington University of St. Louis, Mo. 77-69. The game was played at USM in Gorham as the higher seed earned home-court advantage for the title game.
Page, who ended the game with eight points and nine rebounds, scored the first basket of the game on a reverse layup.
"When I came down the crowd just erupted," she said. "It was so loud. You couldn't hear yourself speak, you couldn't even hear yourself think. It was absolutely incredible."
The Huskies finished 29-3 that year, with the entire team being inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame in 2004.
Over Page's four-year career, USM amassed a 104-15 record and secured four Little East Conference championships. She finished her collegiate career the following season with 659 points, 521 rebounds and 79 steals.
According to the hall of fame induction program, Page often drew the top defensive assignment and did the "little things" that made the Huskies a dominant team. The team won at least 25 games and lost no more than four each season Page was on the roster.
What makes Page's ascension up the ladder to play basketball at the collegiate level more impressive was as a senior at RDHS, she blew out her knee during a midseason basketball game.
"We were 7-1 my senior year and contenders for the state championship," she said. "We were doing very well and then I came down on a fast break in a game at Rockland and when I jump-stopped to shoot the ball my right knee gave out."
Page suffered a complete tear of her anterior cruciate ligament and her medial meniscus, effectively putting an end to her stellar high school sports career.
"I never thought I'd come back to play again after that because it was such a devastating injury," she said.
She had complete reconstructive knee surgery and it took seven months of rehabilitation for her before she was permitted to play basketball again.
As it turned out, her next time on the court was during preseason at USM.
"When Susan tore her ACL in high school, I never gave up on her and was confident that she had the work ethic and dedication to overcome this injury," said Fifield. "Susan worked very hard during her first two years to overcome her injury. Obviously, she did, and USM was the beneficiary."
Then University of Maine women's basketball coach Joanne Palombo-McCallie, now the women's basketball coach at Duke University, had interest in Page joining the Division I Black Bears, but that changed when Page, a tremendous all-around high school athlete, suffered her knee injury.
"It was kind of hard to hear, but she said, 'I don't know if you'll be any good to us anymore?' " said Page of Palombo-McCallie.
Page, vice president of Maritime Energy in Rockland (a business started by her father, John), mentioned coach Fifield's support as a determining factor in her decision to join the Huskies, saying she really did not think she would ever play competitively again.
"He really reached out to me," said Page. "He was a very good support system and he assured me that the injury was something I could return from and overcome. And that's when my relationship between coach Fifield and I started to strengthen."
Page, who lives in South Thomaston with her husband, Charlie, and their son, Jack, 10 1/2 months, said she still has a strong relationship with her coach to this day.
"A lot of times with coaches, after you're done playing for them and you're no good to them [anymore], sometimes that relationship ends," she said. "But with coach Fifield, after all these years, we've still kept in touch. We usually play golf once a summer together. He just cares so much about his players and that speaks volumes to the kind of coach and person that he is."
Fifield said of Page that "statistics and records don’t really tell the whole story about a person's character, passion, desire and pride."
"Susan is simply an outstanding young woman," he said.
Outstanding — and now a hall of famer.
Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.