Coaching duo Terry Thomas and Tom Lavoie headed to Alpena Sports Hall of Fame
ALPENA — As many former players can attest, Terry Thomas and Tom Lavoie made their mark during their time coaching the Alpena High girls basketball team.
Thomas and Lavoie dedicated a lot of years to coaching Alpena youngsters the finer points of basketball and it’s hard to argue with their success.
For 13 seasons, Thomas and Lavoie were inseparable as co-coaches of the Alpena High girls varsity basketball team and presided over one of the most successful periods in program history.
Now, following in the footsteps of many of their former players, Lavoie and Thomas are headed to the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame.
They will be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with Bob Kelley, Bruce VanderWall, Jim Hubert, Eric Puls, and Shannon Woloszyk during the 37th annual banquet tonight at the APlex.
The banquet has been canceled each of the last two years due to COVID-19 concerns.
“I’m quite excited and I know Terry is too. I know so many who have gone in,” Lavoie said. “I’ve had people ask how we made it work when we coached (as a duo). I did a lot of coaching and if there was a problem, Terry could solve the problem. We got to know each other real well and he knew how to get (the team) back on track.”
From 1987-1998, Alpena won 147 games and the duo led the program to its first district and regional championships. Along the way, players like Jodi Harbson, Mitch Thatcher, Tara Sherman, Becky Jore, and many others shined on the court as Alpena developed a reputation for being a scrappy, well-conditioned program.
“They were quite the crew. It was a lot of fun,” Lavoie said. “There was a lot of talent there and those kids worked. We gave them a hard time, but they gave us a hard time too; it was a fun time.”
Under Thomas and Lavoie, the Wildcats became a tough, defensive-minded team that was also loaded with some of the best offensive talents the program has ever seen. Their players set school records; many of which still stand, including career records for points, free throws, rebounds, assists, and blocked shots.
While several Wildcats earned individual all-state and all-conference honors, Thomas and Lavoie’s teams knew how to play together too. Alpena’s 1988 team still holds the school record for points per game in a season (70.6) and Alpena’s 1991 team still holds several program records.
All of that talent was shown on the court, where Alpena won a lot of games. Lavoie and Thomas led the Wildcats to a pair of regional and district championships during the 1990 and 1991 seasons.
During the 1990 season, the Wildcats won district and regional championships for the first time, finishing with a 15-9 record. After starting the season 2-6, Alpena caught fire, playing with grit and heart to eventually beat Marquette for a district title. After they weren’t expected to do much in the tournament, the Wildcats kept winning, beating Forest Hills Central and Bay City Western to win a regional title.
With every starter back in 1991, Alpena hit the ground running. The Wildcats went 20-4 and won district and regional crowns again before their season came to an end.
“I’m quite proud of it and I know Terry is too. We’re real good friends and for the two of us at that time, you couldn’t find two better guys in the program,” Lavoie said.
Thomas and Lavoie’s passion for the game and teaching youngsters the fundamentals extended beyond the season and into the summer where they put on their annual Triple T basketball camp.
Over the years, the impact left on Alpena’s program by Thomas and Lavoie has endured, especially as it relates to the Hall of Fame. Harbson was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007, Sherman was inducted in 2009, and even Kristi Mercer — who was mentored by the duo at the youth level — was inducted in 2005.
Tonight, Thomas and Lavoie will join their former players and be honored and take their place in the Hall of Fame.