Leslie Guenther has called Hebron Academy home for the past 29 years.

Leslie Guenther is retiring as Hebron Academy’s athletic director. She has worked at the school in multiple capacities since 1991. Submitted photo

Now she’s stepping away, retiring at the end of the school year as the school’s athletic director, a position she has held since 1998.

“It’s hard to leave a place that has been your home for more than half of your life,” Guenther said. “I have worked here for 29 years, and I am not quite 56. I have spent more of my life here than anywhere else.”

Guenther will be replaced by Hebron’s boys lacrosse coach, Caddy Brooks, whose first day will be June 10.

In late January, Guenther and her husband, David Stonebraker — a longtime skiing and golf coach and English teacher, who has been at Hebron since 1976 — informed the school that they will be retiring.

Guenther, whose nickname is “Mitzi,” said she and Stonebraker will be able to enjoy their hobbies without the constraints of the school schedule. They will be moving to Bowdoinham soon to be closer to their grandchildren.

“I think it’s the right time for the both of us,” Guenther said. “We are looking forward to spending time together, we enjoy all the same things. He’s an avid skier, so I ski. I am an avid golfer, he’s a good golfer. We love fly fishing; we have a camp in Rangeley. There’s a lot to do and we realized for our entire lives — both my husband and I — not only do you grow up going to (elementary) school, high school and college, you are on a school schedule, and our whole lives we have worked in schools. As long we have been in a school, we have been on a school schedule. It’s kind of interesting, you can go to the Fryeburg Fair (for example) on a Tuesday because you felt like it.”

Leslie Guenther prepares to hit a tee shot. The 2016 Maine Golf Hall of Famer is retiring as athletic director at Hebron Academy. Submitted photo

Guenther said she will also extend her golf season by a couple of months. She was inducted into the Maine Golf Hall of Fame in 2016. Stonebraker, meanwhile, was inducted into the Maine Ski Hall of Fame in 2018.

Guenther started out as the middle school athletic director at Hebron Academy in 1991, a post she held until 2001. She served as the middle school and high school athletic director from 1998 to 2001. She also was an assistant coach for the high school field hockey team for 28 of her 29 years.

Along being an athletic administrator and coach, she also was a middle school math teacher until 2018.

As the high school athletic director, she was able to get the school to offer the same amount of varsity sports for boys and girls.

“We added girls hockey in 1999,” Guenther said. “We always had boys hockey, but adding girls hockey gave us sort of equal number of offerings for males and females. We have had more interest in soccer over time. We have boys varsity, JV and third team.

“One of the big things for us was the building (of) and moving into our new athletic center. We moved from our old Sargent Memorial Gymnasium to the new Williams Athletic Center in 2008. … This facility had an immediate impact on not only our athletic programs and teams, but our entire campus community. It’s a spectacular building that serves athletes and non-athletes alike.”

Under Guenther’s leadership, Hebron teams have won multiple Maine Association of Independent School Athletic Directors Championships and have had success in New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NESPAC) competition — the boys soccer team won the Class C championship in 2016 and 2017. Additionally, the boys lacrosse team claimed the New England Small Schools’ McCoy Cup championship in 2014; the boys hockey team won the New England Small School Championship in 2006; the football team was the Evergreen champion in 2005; the girls hockey team won the New England Division II title in 2000; and the boys alpine ski team won the New England Class C championship in 2018.

The success on the field isn’t what Guenther said she will remember the most from her time as the Lumberjacks’ athletic director.

“It’s easy to focus on wins, victories and championships; I think for me, we require our kids to be involved in an afternoon activity or athletics in all three seasons — the kids have to do something after school each day, that’s the nature of a boarding school,” Guenther said. “I think I am very proud, I think it depends on the trimester, that 80 or 90 percent of our kids are involved on some athletic team. They are choosing to be active in a team way. … I am very pleased so many of our kids make the active decision to be active.”

Guenther also is proud that most of the athletic programs have junior varsity teams, which allows students to try a sport a first time.

Guenther isn’t completely leaving prep athletics. She will remain on the NESPAC executive board, of which she has been a member for the past eight years.

CADDY BROOKS NAMED NEW AD

Stepping into Guenther’s position will be Caddy Brooks, who was hired at the start of the 2019-20 season as boys lacrosse coach. He’s also the boys hockey JV coach along with being a faculty member and dormitory advisor.

Caddy Brooks, Hebron Academy’s boys lacrosse coach, has been hired as the Lumberjacks’ next athletic director, replacing Leslie Guenther, who is retiring after filling the post since 1998. Submitted photo

“This was my goal for my career,” Brooks said of becoming an athletic director. “Personally, I am very excited for the opportunity and for Mitzi, she has been athletic director at Hebron for a very long time. One of my first days at Hebron last year, during orientation we were walking up the stairs and they showed us all the faculty who have been here for longer for 25, 30 years, and Leslie’s face and her portrait is on the wall. She has just done an incredible job with the athletics program here at Hebron. She leaves some big shoes to fill, but I am excited for her retirement and it’s well deserved. I am excited to step into the role.”

Prior to coming to Hebron, Brooks, who grew up in Darien, Connecticut, was an assistant boys lacrosse coach at the Groton School in Groton, Massachusetts. Brooks has also worked at Cardinal Newman School in West Palm Beach, Florida, as an assistant lacrosse coach, and at multiple lacrosse camps in the past decade.

It was at Groton that he first heard about Guenther, from the school’s athletic director and lacrosse coach Robert Low.

“I remember when I told him two years ago about this opportunity at Hebron to coach lacrosse  … I was like, ‘Coach, I am going to have to miss a day of practice on Friday because I have this interview at Hebron,’” Brooks said. “The first thing he said to me: ‘Oh, my gosh, you have to tell Leslie hello for me, she’s such a great person.’ Really, Leslie was the first person I heard of at Hebron. To her credit, her reputation proceeds her.”

Low worked with Guenther a lot during his time as the AD at the Holderness School in Holderness, New Hampire, in the mid-2000s.

Brooks played lacrosse at Colby College, from which he graduated in 2009. He was named NESCAC Rookie of the Year, All-NESCAC, and All-New England, and he was elected to the Division III North vs. South All-Star game. In 2013, he returned to playing competitively, briefly making the 40-man roster for the Boston Cannons of the Major Lacrosse League. One of his teammates was Brunswick native Kit Smith, who at the time was Hebron’s boys lacrosse coach.

Brooks’ 170 career points at Colby College is seventh in school history.

Guenther said she was looking forward to seeing what Caddy was going to do with the lacrosse team this year before the season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am only just getting to know Caddy. Obviously, this year I was really excited to see him as lacrosse coach because he was a really excellent and outstanding lacrosse player at Colby,” Guenther said. “He has gotten rave reviews as a coach and, unfortunately, the lacrosse season got canceled. I am going to have to come back to watch him in action next year when I am not even working here.”

Guenther said Brooks has great energy and great with students.

Brooks isn’t going to change much in the athletic program, which has 18 varsity sports.

“We have a long history. First and foremost, it’s upholding those things that made us successful over time,” Brooks said. “It’s about maintaining and hiring coaches that are in line with our vision, and from there it trickles down to the vision of the (particular team), whatever that is.”


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