Bryan Lambert puts up a shot for the Brandeis University basketball team in January 2003. Lambert also played baseball at Brandeis University after graduating from Edward Little High School in 2000.

Seven seniors and their teammates sat in the Cumberland County Civic Center locker room in 2000, completely dejected at how their high school basketball careers had just come to an abrupt and gut-punching end.

“That’s a scar that I still live with today,” Bryan Lambert, one of those seniors, said last week.

The Edward Little boys’ basketball team tore through its 1999-2000 schedule with an 18-0 record (22-0 counting the annual Christmas tournament in Portland). Two of those wins came against Portland.

But, in the first round of the playoffs, the Red Eddies’ shooting went cold, and they lost to that same Portland team, 46-38.

“That one still bothers me,” Lambert said. “I think that loss bothers me more than when I was released by the Washington Nationals.”

That isn’t Bryan Lambert’s best memory, obviously, but it’s evidence of how much Auburn sports mean to him.

Lambert will be inducted into the Auburn-Lewiston Hall of Fame on Sunday at the Ramada Inn in Lewiston.

It’s the second such honor for Lambert in the past seven months. In October, he was inducted into the Brandeis University Hall of Fame.

“I think the Auburn-Lewiston one has a deeper meaning,” Lambert said, “because, just growing up there as a kid, the foundation of the youth programs and the high school programs, all that allowed me to play in college, to play professional sports.

“So it’s really meaningful.”

College, then pro

Following his graduation from Edward Little High School, where he was a tall (6-foot-8) three-sport standout, Lambert became a baseball and basketball star Brandeis in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Offers to play basketball overseas followed his college career, but Lambert instead decided to accept a deal to become a pitcher in the Washington Nationals organization.

He spent three years in the Nationals’ minor league system, and advanced to the Advanced-A level. Then, the organization decided to release him to make room for newly drafted players.

Rather than kick around the minors some more, Lambert decided to move on with his life.

Soon, he started working in the insurance business at Jim Mooradian and Associates in Boston, and is now a partner at the firm. He and his wife, Joanna, whom he met at Brandeis, have two kids, Hannah (4) and Teddy (2).

Technically, Lambert’s sports career started in Texas, where he was born. But it blossomed when his family moved back to Auburn (his dad, Bryan Sr., was an Edward Little graduate before joining the Air Force and moving away) when Lambert was in fifth grade.

“I played everything,” Lambert said. “I played soccer, I played football for the first time in seventh grade, played baseball and played basketball.

“Whatever season it was, that’s what I played.”

Some of Lambert’s most important sports experiences came while playing Auburn Suburban Little League.

In 1993, he was on the All-Star team that won its district and the state championship, then advanced to Eastern Regionals in Bristol, Connecticut, and got within two games of the Little League World Series.

“That experience,” Lambert said, “playing in front of even maybe 1,000 people, having great coaches, great friends, that experience was really impactful on me as a young athlete.”

Thanks to the power and reach of social media, Lambert said he still keeps in touch with everyone from that team, and each year when the Little League World Series rolls around, a conversation starts up and old photos are shared.

He might not keep in touch with all of the coaches he had while growing up, but he still remembers them and their impact — from his Little League coaches, Rick Camire and Dave Rollins, to those at Edward Little: Bruce Lucas and Scott Annear, baseball; Mike Francoeur, basketball; and Gene Keene, football.

“I truly mean this, I feel really lucky, some of the people that I played for,” Lambert said.

Annear, now the principal at Edward Little, and Fancoeur, who coaches at Bonny Eagle, have similar feelings about Lambert.

“He’s one of the most special young men I’ve been lucky enough to coach,” Francoeur said.

“He was one of those kids where you felt like you don’t get many opportunities to coach this caliber of an athlete,” Annear said.

‘Gifted athlete’

By the time Lambert reached high school, he wasn’t just among the tallest basketball, baseball and football players, he also was among the best, on his teams and in the state. And he could do everything, and did them well.

Annear coached Lambert’s freshman baseball team in 1997. Lambert, no surprise, was the Eddies’ top pitcher, but the team had no depth at catcher.

“He willingly said, ‘Coach, I’ll catch. Enough of this,’ and he caught the whole year,’” Annear said. “Nobody stole a base the rest of the year, we never had a passed ball the rest of the year.”

During American Legion baseball, Annear moved Lambert, when he wasn’t pitching, to shortstop, outfield or first base.

“He could play any position, Annear said. “He was a gifted, gifted athlete. And he wasn’t just athletic; he’d be the guy that would be in the right position to back up the next throw. He was very intuitive about where to be on the next play.”

Lambert also was a heart-of-the-order hitter.

Lambert even helped his teams win when he wasn’t playing. Annear, who became the Edward Little varsity coach Lambert’s senior year, also coached him when he was in eighth grade.

Lambert suffered an ankle injury and couldn’t play. So, he took over the team’s scorebook.

“He was so in-tuned that he found a mistake in (an opponent’s) batting order … and we ended up not having to go to extra innings. The other team thought they scored the tying run,” Annear said.

“He was on top of it, and we had to go show the umpire, no, they’re behind one run. ‘All right, game over. Auburn wins.’”

Lambert made the Edward Little varsity basketball team his freshman year, which Francoeur said was fairly uncommon in the 1990s. It was a down time for the Red Eddies, so Lambert received a lot of playing time on a team that finished 2-16.

The next season, they went 4-14. Lambert’s junior season, 1998-99, Edward Little started 5-4 before winning its final nine games to finish 14-4.

That was followed by the 18-0 senior season, during which Lambert averaged 21 points and 14 rebounds per game, and was one of the top players in the state.

“One of the things I don’t think he gets enough recognition for was how good of a basketball player he was his senior year,” Francoeur said.

“(The success) was a big part because of him. He was almost a triple-double guy, he basically ran our team. We had some great players with him, but he was the glue to everything we ever did.”

On the football field, Lambert started at quarterback as a junior and senior and led the Red Eddies to the postseason both seasons.

“He was the starting quarterback and was tremendous,” Francoeur said. “The teams that he played on were very successful.”

Lambert has chosen Francoeur to introduce him at Sunday’s induction ceremony. Francoeur is excited to talk about and hear others talk about Lambert.

“He was the epitome of a student-athlete,” Lambert said. “I said this when he graduated from high school, I’ll say it again on Sunday: I could have only asked that my (own) kids turned out to be close to how he is.”

Bryan Lambert pitched and played basketball for Brandeis University after graduating from Edward Little High School in 2000.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.