Often times in sports, the impact a coach or an official has on young athletes gets lost in the shuffle of wins and losses, and championship triumph and heartbreak.
When it comes to the track and field scene here in Maine, it’s hard to find anybody who has been more of an influence on our youth than Mary Cady.
Cady has been a mainstay among the track scene in Maine, in particular the Eastern Maine Indoor Track League, for decades.
She has been in charge of the EMITL since the early 1990’s.
On Friday, the diehard fan of the Kansas Jayhawks decided to hang up her EMITL official’s badge, directing her final EMITL championship meet.
The league’s athletes, coaches, officials and fans honored Cady in a most fitting way Friday night at the University of Maine, as she was presented with a bouquet of flowers – which she jokingly proclaimed represented the colors of her Jayhawks’ hated rival, Kansas State – was read a touching speech by Orono High athletic administrator Mike Archer, and received a rousing hand and plenty of thank-yous from fellow officials, fans, coaches and athletes.
Whether it’s been as an athlete or a journalist, I’ve been a part of the EMITL since 1999, so I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Cady for 18 glorious years.
As a young athlete, I only knew her as the official who took the microphone if somebody was in trouble, or if an athlete was meandering in a place they shouldn’t be.
I got to know her more my senior year at Brewer High School, as my track career was winding down and it was apparent I was going to soon trade in my spikes for a notebook and a pen, and was working closely alongside her covering meets for this newspaper barely a few months after my final state meet as an athlete.
Cady is as organized as it gets. She runs a tight ship. She always put the athletes first. She was stern and tough, but always fair, and if a coach or an athlete needed any sort of explanation, she would provide it in a classy manner.
Whether you were a coach, athlete or a reporter, if you had Cady directing a championship meet, you knew things were going to be run extremely well.
In her years at directing the EMITL, she witnessed the talents of some of the finest track athletes ever to come through Maine, from Louie Luchini to Riley Masters, from Heather Clark to Tia Tardy, from Tyler Eastman to Austin Lufkin, from Steven DeWitt to John Hassett, and Jen Puiia to Teal Jackson.
Cady will certainly be missed, but as Archer noted in his speech, she is now free to spend her winter Saturdays as she pleases. I’m guessing most of those Saturdays will be spent watching Jayhawks basketball.
Thank you, Mary Cady, for all you’ve done for the track community in the state of Maine. You will be missed. And hopefully your Jayhawks won’t beat my North Carolina Tar Heels too much in the coming years.