Ellis, Coffin, Cooper, Lane To Enter MBHOF
Later this month the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame will open its doors to 29 new members, including four to the top female players from the high school and college ranks. Liz Coffin, Emily, Maureen Burchill Cooper and Marcia Lane Schulenberg.
The 2nd ever induction ceremony takes place Sunday, August 23rd at the Cross Center in Bangor.
From third grade through sixth-grade, when boys in Emily Ellis' class played organized basketball games on weekends, she sat on the bleachers and watched.
Structured basketball wasn't offered for girls until seventh grade. “I didn't know about Title IX or I'd have been playing with the guys,” she says
Ellis was 7 when she fell in love with the sport, shooting at a hoop attached to a pine tree outside her house. Ellis also played at school recess; she had a quality basketball and took it to school so the boys would play with her.
“I think basketball was love at first shot,” she says. “I honestly cannot remember a time when I wasn't in love with basketball.”
And when Ellis finally got the opportunity to play on a team, people quickly took notice. “I think the suffering through and wanting the chance to play so badly fueled the fire that was to come,” she says.
Ellis was a natural, pouring in more than 1,000 points for the Mt. View High School girls team and leading the Mustangs to their first-ever Class B Eastern Maine Championship. Ellis, who graduated in 1981 and played before the three-point shot was introduced in high school or college, still holds a number of EM Class B tournament scoring records.
Her talents earned her a scholarship to play Division I basketball at the University of Maine. “The first UMaine women's game I ever saw, I played in,” Ellis mentioned. “The exposure is so different now.
Ellis helped bring recognition to the women's game at UMaine. She had a stellar four-year career, rewriting the record books. Among the 20 school records she set: most points in a career (1,696) and most points in a season (596). Her No. 40 jersey was the first to be retired at UMaine in any sport.
Before the days of the WNBA, Ellis traveled to Finland and Austria to play professionally
Today, she still hits the hardwood a few times a week. “It is so fun to play and doesn't feel like you're working out,” says Ellis, who also is in the University of Maine Hall of Fame, Maine Sports Hall of Fame and New England Basketball Hall of Fame.
“Basketball is a microcosm of life,” says Ellis, a Realtor. “I can't tell you a lesson that didn't come from basketball. ...I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the game I loved [and] that has loved me back. The lesson: follow your passion; be true to yourself and everything will fall into place as it should.”
Marcie Lane Schulenberg
Marcie Lane Schulenberg, who once ran circles around the competition, now runs marathons and competes in Ironman competitions.
Those who saw her play basketball for Cony can testify to her tenacity, competitiveness, relentless energy and will to win. Schulenberg was a 5'-2” whirling dervish when she began her career at Cony, where she proceeded to rewrite the record books, dazzle fans and terrorize opposing teams.
“I was always so competitive,” says the 1989 Cony graduate. “I never wanted to let myself or my teammates down.”
Paul Vachon, her high school basketball coach and fellow Maine Basketball Hall of Fame and Maine Sports Hall of Fame inductee, credits Schulenberg with starting him on his hall of fame coaching path, and for setting the standard for female high school student-athletes and for helping to popularize girls basketball in the state.
“I truly believe that the intensity that Marcie played with changed the landscape of schoolgirl athletics for the state of Maine," Vachon says.
On the hardwood, the All-American and All-State guard pumped in 1,544 points and dished out 657 assists during an astonishing career in which she led the Rams to a four-year 83-4 record. Two of those 83 victories resulted in Gold Balls.
She says her Cony teams had incredible community support, amazing and exacting coaches and talented teammates, including her sister, Meaghan.
In college, after starting her scholarship career at Boston University, Schulenberg transferred to the University of New Hampshire to again team up with Meaghan. Schulenberg, a captain and All-North Atlantic Conference Player, tallied more than 1,000 points and completed her career with the Wildcats — she graduated in 1994 — with the school record three-point field goal percentage — .488.
She calls her husband James, who introduced her to Ironman competitions, an inspiration. She says her parents — Roy Lane and Linda Lane — are inspirations, as well.
Schulenberg extends similar support to her young boys, Connor, an avid golfer and flag football player, and Jonathan, who plays soccer. “We have a hoop at home but they don't have any interest at this time. You never know,” she laughs.
Liz Coffin's basketball career started at age 10 in Portage Lake, Maine, population 391. Her brother and his friends let her fill in during pickup games at the Town Hall. Before long, though, she was one of the first chosen when teams were picked.
Her career culminated playing professional basketball in Spain and the Canary Islands. In between, Coffin garnered a slew of accolades for her skills, including high school All-State and college All-American.
In addition to playing at the Town Hall, Coffin honed her skills in all kinds of weather at the outdoor basketball hoop at the general store her dad operated in northern Maine.
Her diligence paid off — at Ashland High School, Coffin poured in 1,857 points and snared more than 1,000 rebounds. The 1984 graduate was twice named All-Tourney and was twice named to the Bangor Daily News All-State squad. Ashland has since retired her No. 44 jersey.
Her favorite game in high school was her sophomore season during a play-in contest with Narraguagus. Coffin drained more than 40 points and grabbed more than 25 rebounds to lead the Hornets past the Knights and clinch a quarterfinal appearance at the Bangor Auditorium.
At University of Maine, Coffin continued to dominate, earning Seaboard Conference Rookie of the Year honors in 1985 and 1st Team All-Conference Honors in 1986, 1987 and 1988, including Player of the Year her senior season. She also earned All New England accolades three times and All American honors twice. She was the first player in New England to score 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds in a career; she concluded her UMaine playing days with 2,132 points (ranks fourth all-time) and 1,326 boards (first all time).
The Black Bears also retired her No. 44 uniform. Her favorite game in a Black Bear uniform was a come-from-behind win over Boston University in the raucous Pit; Coffin remembers UMaine rallying from a 20-point halftime deficit to defeat the Terriers, 64-63.
In 2009, Coffin was inducted into the New England Basketball Hall of Fame. She says her mentors are her high school coach, Becky Morse; her college coach Peter Gavett; and her parents, Terry and Carleen.
“Basketball taught me the power of hard work to gain success and deal with adversity,” Coffin says. “My successful basketball journey was made possible by the support of family, teachers, coaches and teammates. The influence of these people empowers my life today.”
Maureen Burchill Cooper
That was the call of the game announcer at Hill Gymnasium at the University of Southern Maine when Maureen Burchill Cooper, class of 1985, drained a long-range bomb.
It was a frequent occurrence.
Cooper, who competed before the three-point line was instituted in the women's game, holds records for most points in a game (47), most points in a career (2,357) and highest career scoring average (19.3) for the perennial powerhouse USM women's program.
She set records for most field goals in a game (18), in a season (298) and in a career (1,083), and set the benchmarks for most steals in a game (11) and in a career (438) for the Huskies.
For her prowess, Cooper was twice selected a Kodak/WBCA Division III American.
Cooper, who also played softball for the Huskies, was inducted into the Husky Hall of Fame in 1991.
Before she embarked on her college career, Cooper was an All-Maine selection at Deering High School.
Cooper has plenty of star power company in her family. Her husband, Bruce coached the Lawrence High School girls basketball team to four straight state Class A basketball titles from 1990 to 1994. And their daughter, Cassie, played on two state Class A championship basketball squads at Cony High School and two Ivy League crowns at Dartmouth College.
Cooper is an elementary school teacher.