FA - John Weston gets the Larry Lebrie Distinguished Service Award

Fryeburg Academy Nordic Coach John Weston has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s Larry Lebrie Distinguished Service Award Outside the Field of Athletic Administration. (SUE THURSTON PHOTO)

FRYEBURG — Fryeburg Academy Nordic Coach John Weston has been selected as this year’s recipient of the Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association’s Larry Lebrie Distinguished Service Award Outside the Field of Athletic Administration.

Weston was recognized virtually on Thursday in the conference room at Fryeburg Academy. His dad, George, and FA Athletic Director Sue Thurston took part in the ceremony.

“I was obviously very happy,” said Weston by phone Monday, and jokingly added: “If you’re stubborn enough to do something long enough, they’ll give you an award for it. Just kidding.”

He added: “To be recognized at the state level by the athletic directors who see what you do first hand is very nice.”

Thurston bestowed the honor on him.

“The Larry Lebrie MIAAA Distinguished Service Award Outside the Field of Athletic Administration was established to recognize a community person, who like Larry, has made significant contributions to Interscholastic Athletics,” Thurston said. “I am very proud to represent the Western Maine Conference and the MIAAA in presenting this year’s Award to Mr. John Weston.”

The Larry LaBrie Award for Outstanding Contributions to the MPA Interscholastic Division, according to the Maine Principal’s Association, “was created by the Interscholastic Management Committee to honor former Assistant Executive Director Larry LaBrie, who retired in June 2008 after sixteen years of service to the association. The award recognizes individuals who make outstanding contributions to the Interscholastic Division of the Maine Principals' Association. Up to three recipients are selected each year and honored at the annual MPA Spring Conference.”

One of last year’s three recipients was Fryeburg Academy alumni Gerry Durgin, Class of 1968, who is the current executive director of the Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.

Weston, a 1993 graduate of Fryeburg Academy, owns and operates Weston’s Farm in Fryeburg with his family.

“Part of their family’s 200 acres included Stark’s Mountain, a former alpine hill that John, his father (George) and the loyal Fryeburg Academy ski community have built into one of the finest Nordic areas in Western Maine,” said Thurston during the presentation. “If you are not familiar with Fryeburg, well, the saying is, ‘Be prepared to Fry in the summer and freeze in the winter at the Berg.’ But those colder temperatures have allowed Starks to be open well before many venues in Western Maine and usually remain open into April vacation. That said, it’s John who grooms each day and sets the courses and maintains the entire trail system the entire year.

“John has been our Nordic ski coach for the last 22 years and was inducted into the Academy’s Hall of Excellence in 2012.

“John has hosted at least one, if not both ends of the Western Maine Conference Championships, for 21 years and also hosted the Class A State Championships for two years. John actually groomed the course as a senior in high school for that conference championship race.

“Stark’s Hill has been the site of the Regional Meet for the Middle school level since 2009 — that started as the Maine Junior Ski Club Class B Meet and now is called the ‘Final Race.’ He has hosted the New England Bill Koch Youth Festival and the New Hampshire Meet of Champions.

“John is also a certified U.S. Ski Association race official (technical delegate)

“In 2010, he received the New England Nordic Ski Associations Caldwell Award for his contributions to New England skiing.

“John has also worked with a former assistant coach to design user friendly racing software that is used at any race within our conference. He is often now called upon to help at many of the NCAA Championships Nordic races.

“When I arrived at my first Western Maine Conference meeting as a new AD, I was told by Marty Ryan that Fryeburg was responsible for all things Nordic. I was in a bit of a panic as anything that involves outside, freezing in the cold and also involved cardiovascular activity was, shockingly, not in my wheelhouse. Marty went on o talk about classic versus skate and at the time, I had no idea he was still talking to me.

“Fortunately, I had Paul True beside me who said, ‘Don’t worry, John Weston does everything.’ And Paul was right. Later that fall, I met John and during these last 14 years, he has done it all, but in true Weston Family-style, he has taught me along the way to learn the sport. This season when I asked about him finding a way to create two venues out of the one at Starks so we could hold the WMC Championships in one day, he made it happen. It was just amazing to see the kids racing and teammates cheering.

“I couldn’t be any prouder to present John with the Larry Lebrie Award and thank him on behalf of our athletes, our community, our conference and the MIAAA for his service to interscholastic athletics.”

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