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A 56-Year Wait Ends for Thetford 1,000-Point Scorer

  • Thetford Academy students listen to Bridget Dugan-Sullivan, assistant director of development during an assembly for Rita Brown DeGoosh a Thetford graduate and senior Dylan Thorburn were inducted in to the school's 1,000-point club on May 16, 2018 in Thetford, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Bridget Dugan-Sullivan, Thetford Academy's assistant director of development, announces 1962 graduate Rita Brown DeGoosh's induction into the school's 1,000-point club during a school assembly in Thetford, Vt., on May 16, 2018. At left is Athletic Director Blendon Salls. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Rita Brown, in the front row third from left, stands with her basketball team in a 1962 yearbook photo from Thetford Academy. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • After being inducted into Thetford Academy's 1,000-point club, Rita Brown DeGoosh, of Fairlee, Vt., holds onto the basketball given to her by the school in Thetford, Vt., on May 16, 2018. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Rita Brown DeGoosh, of Fairlee, Vt., a 1962 Thetford Academy graduate, second from left, speaks with her basketball teammate Becky Gray, of Thetford, Vt., before a student assembly that, in part, honored DeGoosh as a member of the 1,000-point club in Thetford, Vt., on May 16, 2018. At left is DeGoosh's daughter Christy Pierson, of Bradford, Vt. Thetford boys basketball coach Jason Gray, right, reached the 1,000-point mark at the school in 2008. Sitting between the Grays is Loretta Gray, of Thetford. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Rita Brown now joins Thetford Academy's 1,000-point club -- 56 years after the fact. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Thetford — Whenever Rita Brown DeGoosh attended a basketball game at the Thetford Academy gym over the years and took notice of the list of 1,000-point scorers hanging on the wall, she always knew that one was missing.

Hers.

That was rectified on Wednesday morning during a a student-run assembly inside Vaughan Alumni Gym when DeGoosh, 73, a 1962 graduate of Thetford who currently lives in Fairlee, was finally recognized for scoring 1,000 points for the Panthers between 1958-62. She joined Dylan Thorburn, the Panthers’ latest 1,000 point scorer, in having their names added to the list.

The names are listed in chronological order, and DeGoosh now stands as the second athlete in school history to have achieved the scoring milestone, one year behind Mickey Mousley, who graduated in 1961. DeGoosh was also given a game ball during the ceremony, 56 years after the fact.

“I did (know),” said DeGoosh, who preferred her maiden name, Brown, on the banner. “Mickey was up there. We were from the same town, but they didn’t recognize women. You just didn’t (get recognized) back then.”

Lynn Hill was the first female athlete to be recognized by Thetford for her 1,000 points in 1982. Since then, seven girls and seven boys have been recognized for reaching the mark.

“I just didn’t expect it after the fact,” DeGoosh said.

Bridget Dugan-Sullivan, a Thetford alumna who works as the school’s assistant director of development and communications, had a hand in helping DeGoosh be recognized and said the honor illustrated just how far back Thetford’s basketball history goes. It helps that the school is celebrating its bicentennial in 2019, a task that has required some digging through the archives.

“We have people here inside the community that go back so far that they know (Thetford’s history),” Dugan-Sullivan said. “We need to be better about writing it down and keeping track of it.

“(Honoring DeGoosh was) really cool,” she said. “I’m really glad we were able to do it.”

DeGoosh came from a basketball family growing up in Strafford. She started playing in fifth grade and turned into a prolific scorer.

“I liked the competition,” DeGoosh said.

Becky Gray, mother of current Thetford boys basketball head coach Jason Gray, was a senior on the Thetford’s girls basketball team when DeGoosh was a freshman. DeGoosh had an immediate impact on the team, she recalled.

“She was good,” said Gray, who graduated in 1959. “I was a senior, she came right in and got onto the team. … It was in their family. Her sisters and her brothers all played. They all came to the games.”

Girls basketball was a different sport back then. Practices took place during physical education classes, not after school like today. The game featured two roving players — a guard and a forward — who were the only players allowed to play in both ends of the court. All others in the 6-on-6 format were designated to one end of the floor, playing either offense or defense. Dribbles were also limited. DeGoosh played as a roving forward.

“We were still pretty rough and tough, we just had different rules,” DeGoosh said. “It was slow. You could only take three or two dribbles before you could throw. ... It had to be really boring to watch. But you had plenty of time to shoot and make it, because (the game) wasn’t so fast.”

DeGoosh also played softball during her time at Thetford, though she admitted she was much better at basketball. She also was a cheerleader during boys basketball games.

Dugan-Sullivan became aware that DeGoosh might have scored 1,000 points when she posted an announcement on Facebook about a Thetford alumni basketball game to be held on Nov. 25. Christy Pierson, DeGoosh’s daughter, commented that her mom should play since she had scored 1,000 points and had never been recognized.

“I was shocked and kind of upset that she had done this and it had not been recognized for all these years,” Dugan-Sullivan said. “Who knows how many others (haven’t gotten recognized)?”

She reached out to Pierson and found out more. The milestone wasn’t exactly a secret, but it hadn’t been publicized, either. Dugan-Sullivan reached out to Dave Fredrickson, executive director of the Vermont Basketball Coaches Association, to try to get some verification. VBCA records do not include DeGoosh, and no other records of basketball statistics go back that far. Still, Dugan-Sullivan and Thetford athletic director Blendon Salls — after speaking with some in the Thetford community — decided to go ahead and honor DeGoosh anyway.

“I talked to some people in the Thetford community that could attest to the fact that she did this,” Dugan-Sullivan wrote in an email this week. “So, we felt that we could go on good faith that she had in fact scored 1,000 points.”

DeGoosh said it is possible that there are others — perhaps at Thetford, perhaps at other schools — that still may not be recognized. Athletics, particularly girls athletics, were thought of differently than they are today. Some accomplishments may have fallen through the cracks and have since been lost to history.

Now, DeGoosh’s success won’t be one of them.

“It’s kind of neat,” DeGoosh said. “I just wonder, there has got to be others that didn’t get recognized. I’m sure there are.”

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.