Announcement of Wally Covell’s retirement is like predicting great baseball weather for the first several days of April. It’s a little premature.
In 1995, after seven seasons as head baseball coach at Maine Central Institute, Covell did step down from that position. In 2002 he returned to coaching football at Orono High and baseball at Lawrence High. He is still in both positions.
Playing and teaching athletics is Covell’s vocation and avocation.
Starting in 1947 with the Tri-Corner town team at Greene and continuing with Monmouth Academy,Winthrop American Legion, Lewiston High, 7 Monmouth town team, University of Maine and the Bucksport town team, Covell was a pitcher-infielder-outfielder.
After graduating from Maine in 1955, Covell’s first coaching job was a t Bucksport High where his baseball team won the Hancock County championship.
Over the next four decades, he coached American Legion, high school, college and the Waterville Red Sox and South Portland in the Twilight League.
After Bucksport, Covell coached at Orono for seven years then moved on to Colby College in 1969 as John Winkin’s assistant. When Winkin left to take over the University of Maine’s program, Covell was named head coach in 1975, a post he held until 1984.
“As Athletic Director at Colby, I hired Wally for our baseball and football (assistant to Dick McGee) staff” said Winkin. “I've known him as a fine baseball person for over thirty years.
“To put it simply, Wally Covell has been a steady, excellent, baseball person in various baseball responsibilities in the amateur baseball level, all of which have earned him the highest kind of respect.
After Colby, Covell was an assistant to head coach Dusty Drew at the University of Southern Maine, Salisbury State College (Maryland) and Warren Wilson College (North Carolina) before his appointment at MCI.
Mike Rutherford, baseball coach at Portland High and an outstanding athlete who won the Fitzpatrick Trophy in 1982, was on the first Southern Maine team to win a regional tournament and advance to the world series.
“His passion for the game is at the level it was when I played for him in 1985.” said Rutherford.“ I have had the pleasure to play for John Winkin and Ed Flahery, two of the best coaches Maine has seen. I believe Wally Covell should be included with those two.
Bob Keefe played varsity baseball at Colby 1974 through 1977. Covell was Winkin’s assistant the first year and head coach the last three.
“To this day I consider Wally a mentor and a friend,” said Keefe.“I am always impressed with his passion for the game and his love of coaching, He has had a positive impact on hundreds of young players.
Frank Jordan played on Covell’s first team at Orono High when baseball was revived at the school after being discontinued. Covell was also Jordan’s football and junior varsity basketball coach.
“Coach Covell helped me make it through high school,’ said Jordan.“ Wally helped me make it through Vietnam five years later. I learned more about myself from Coach than from all the rest of the people in my life. I know I owe my life to Coach Covell. | never would have survived my two-year Vietnam experience without Coach Covell as a role model.”
Ron Joseph was a catcher on Waterville’s American Legion team in the late 1960’s. He remembers games and plays “like it was yesterday.’ But playing for Covell included lessons that aren’t included in box scores.
“Every team has mediocre players, said Joseph.“Coach Covell always made them feel an important part of the team by giving them responsibilities during games. He never let them idly melt away on the bench.
“I admire that quality of his coaching more that the fond memory of his teaching me the proper catching and hitting techniques and all the rewards both brought me.”