DIXFIELD — After enjoying a highly successful and competitive athletic career, Deb (DiConzo) Mooney found herself at a crossroads that had her briefly contemplating retirement from the sport of field hockey.

Instead, much to the delight of everyone who came to know her, Mooney traded her stick for a whistle and used her knowledge of the sport she loved to continue in the game.

That decision, and her dedication to the game, is being honored this weekend with her induction into the Maine Field Hockey Association’s Hall of Fame.

The ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center during the MFHA’s annual awards banquet. Also being announced is this year’s Miss Maine Field Hockey award winner.

Sunday will be special for Mooney.

She played four years of field hockey, basketball, and softball at Dirigo High School under legendary coach Sally Clark. The abilities and lessons learned in athletics proved to be invaluable.

“We, the class of 1978, were an athletic class, so many of us saw a lot of playing time,” Mooney said. “Upperclassmen feared losing their positions because Sally wouldn’t hesitate to play an underclassmen.

“We were aggressive, not much finesse,” Mooney added. “I think there was a cross country team, but most played field hockey. No soccer in those days.”

“Deb was a very quiet competitor. Her actions and how she played the game showed everyone what kind of a player she was,” former teammate Joanne (Ellis) Weston said. “She never gloated to the other teams. Deb played on the varsity team even as a freshmen. She was a very focused player. Deb was a great teammate. She was always encouraging everyone and she never liked to be in the limelight. If someone talked her up she would always talk about how well everyone else did to make things happen. She was the one that you always wanted on your side.”

Following graduating in 1978, she went on to play field hockey for three years under Paula Hodgdon at University of Southern Maine. During that time, she was contacted by the athletic director at Windham High School, asking if she’d be interested in officiating his middle school games because of a shortage of officials.

“Not a whole lot has changed because we’re still looking for officials,” Mooney quipped. “I just let those middle kids play as long as the game was safe. The fourth year, I moved home and finished my teaching certificate at (the University of Maine at Farmington).”

Pam (Spaulding) Newton is the one who encouraged Mooney to go to an officials’ rating session in 1984. She didn’t get a rating the first time. Newton, a Dixfield graduate herself, continued to mentor the Mooney, while providing numerous opportunities to get experience.

“She knew the game, knew what to watch for and where to position herself,” Newton said. “She was quick — we both were back then. She kept up with the rules changes and interpretations. Deb was always fair in her approach toward the players and even the coaches. She had an amazing ‘ball sense’ in school, and it carried over to officiating.”

“Pam was one to encourage and recruit new officials,” Mooney recalled. “Jay had a summer program for many years where ‘newbies’ could work to gain field experience. Pam mentored not just me, but all of the officials from this area.”

Mooney enjoyed playing pranks every so often, and recalled one she attempted on longtime Telstar coach Gail Wight. She and fellow official Kip Fletcher walked onto the Bethel field to do a playoff game one Halloween, and tried to do so incognito.

“We decided to stop at LaVerdiere’s (drug store) so we could each pick up a mask, but somehow everyone knew who we were when we walked on the field,” Mooney said.

“During my years of officiating, I met some very dedicated, hard-working officials, talented players, teams, and coaches,” she added.

She was hired at Hartford-Sumner School as a special education teacher, for three years. In September 1987, she returned to her alma-mater Dirigo, replacing Joan Brooks, who retired, and starting as a special education teacher. During those years, she officiated field hockey and coached softball until 1996, then got into umpiring softball. Mooney eventually slowed down physically, and trouble moving quickly enough forced her retirement from officiating in 2009. Difficulty walking forced her to retire from teaching last year.

“As teachers, we try to be a positive role model and encourage students to try different activities,” Mooney said. “I’m sure students from the past are passing these positive experiences on to their children. We live in an area where outdoor activities are abundant. Too many kids are glued to their phone, gaming or other type of electronics. It would be fun to continue activities of the past with them.”


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