Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of profiles on the Class of 2007 inductees.

They aren’t twins. They deny the presence of any underlying sibling rivalry.

Peter and Paul Slovenski say a fabulous family and supportive community shaped their parallel athletic lives. That they put up such competitive numbers in track and field and essentially followed the same career path, well, that’s purely coincidental.

“We were never teammates,” said Paul, who is five years younger. “My brother’s legend, and my father’s history in the sport comfortingly preceded me wherever I went.”

“My goal,” said Peter, “always was to use what I learned about pole vaulting to help him surpass whatever I had been able to do.”

Teammates, no. Opponents, hardly. But for everyone who knew the offspring of late, great Bates College track coach Walter and Ruth Slovenski, it has always been impossible to praise Peter without paying Paul.

It’s easy to understand why they’ll share the dais at Lost Valley on Sunday evening, when Peter and Paul Slovenski join their dad in the Auburn-Lewiston Sports Hall of Fame.

“Being inducted into the same Hall of Fame as my father is a credit to him and what he made me into,” said Paul Slovenski, who is in his first year as athletic director at Bayview Glen, a private college preparatory school in Toronto. “I worshipped the man and wanted to grow up to be just like him.”

Shadowing dad

Paul ultimately followed Walt’s footsteps to Bates, starring in soccer and track and field and earning a varsity letter in all 12 seasons of his varsity career. He was a track All-American after finishing fourth in the pole vault at the 1985 NCAA Division III championship.

That passion for small-college track took Paul to Bowdoin, Tufts, Bates and finally Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a five-time Coach of the Year in MIT’s conference and mentored three All-Americans before changing direction and relocating north of the border.

Coaching isn’t quite out of his blood, yet. Bayview Glen’s AD spoke with a reporter Thursday from his bus seat, on his way to a track meet.

“This experience has brought me the most joy I could ever imagine in my professional life,” Paul said. “I thought when I finally became a coach that I had reached the holy grail, but guiding multiple sports programs is the mother lode.”

“It keeps me young,” he added. “Running around for a living is expected of me here. I always try to hire or surround myself with volunteers who still teach me what I haven’t learned yet.”

Living up to the name

Peter put the second generation of Slovenski athletes on the map with his stellar high school, prep and Division I collegiate career. He lettered in football at Lewiston High School but achieved regional notoriety in track, in which he won the 1973 and 1974 state championships in the pole vault and backed them up with runner-up finishes at the New England meet.

After smashing the school record and winning the New England prep title at Phillips Exeter Academy, Peter took his craft to new heights at Dartmouth College. All-New England and All-Ivy League honors came in 1976 and 1977, respectively.

“I was a little bit ahead of my time in specializing pretty seriously in one sport,” Peter said. “I loved playing about six sports, and if I had six lives, I’d like to see how good I could become in each of them. But I could see the athletic world changing in 1970, and I knew the best thing for me was see how far I could go with the pole vault.”

That choice assisted the elder Slovenski’s smooth transition into the real world. After brief stints coaching with his father at Bates, at Hebron Academy and at a school in California, Peter has headed the track and field program at Bowdoin College in Brunswick for two decades.

Walt Slovenski steered Bates’ program for 43 years, achieving 726 meet wins and five undefeated seasons. That family tradition lives on. Peter was New England’s cross country coach of the year in 1991. He received the same honor for men’s track in 2000.

“I go to work every day with the idea that I am going to give Bowdoin the kind of track program my father gave Bates,” he said.

No place like home

Both Slovenskis credit their parents and their formative years in the Lewiston school and athletic systems for much of their adult success.

“I’m blessed to have born to my mother,” said Paul, whose father died in September 1999. “Dad always praised her contributions way beyond his part in our upbringing. They teamed up to provide a nurturing, supportive environment in a loving household. My parents were always looking for the fun in life.”

Peter fondly remembers being a gym rat at Bates, tagging along with Walt to watch Bob Hatch (football), Chick Leahey (baseball) and George Wigton (basketball) conduct their practices.

He also credits Mike Beaulieu, who coached his Lewiston football team from junior high through high school, as the best coach he has known in 35 years as a student-athlete, teacher and coach.

“Lewiston school coaches of the 1960s and ’70s spent a lot of time emphasizing that the world did not revolve around athletics,” Peter said. “A lot of Lewiston athletes in those days had jobs because their families needed the money. It made me appreciate that participation in sports was a great privilege.”

An equal privilege: Being remembered nearly two generations later by the community where it all began.

“I’m honored to be in this group that includes so many mentors and heroes of mine,” said Peter.

“I was absolutely overwhelmed with pride when I got the news,” Paul echoed. “I was groomed for the family business, quite literally, in my backyard and at Bates College.”


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