ORONO – Waldo “Wally” Covell spent the better part of 60 years coaching throughout the state of Maine at multiple different levels. Friday night, members of his longtime community came together to pay tribute to all of his contributions to sports in Maine.
Dozens came together Friday night at Orono Middle School to celebrate Covell’s life, after he died at age 84 on June 7. A member of the University of Maine football squad from 1951-1954, Covell would star in football and baseball, receiving a chance to play professionally for the Philadelphia Phillies, but turning it down in order to stay in Maine with his wife Janet. After that, he turned to coaching.
Covell would then embark on a coaching career that would take him through Colby College, the University of Southern Maine, Orono High School, Lawrence and elsewhere. His success in baseball earned him induction to the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003, further cementing his legacy in sports.
His oldest son Brian spoke at the service Friday, and said beforehand this would be a way to allow those impacted by his father to reflect on his life.
“I think we’re celebrating and recognizing a way of being in the world,” Brian said. “And to the young men and women who he’s had contact with, is there something that he did that touched them that’s going to perhaps inspire them to live and interact with their community similarly?”
Wally put in his will he desired to have a public memorial service in Orono, as memorabilia lined the auditorium. Among the items was a game ball from Orono’s recent Class C State Championship win, with “For Wally” written in permanent marker on it. As Brian said, Wally loved sports, and if he had his way, would have gone out in the game.
“He told me that he would absolutely have no problem passing away with a whistle on his neck standing on the third base line in the coaching box, and he came pretty close to doing just that,” he said. “I think [coaching] was an integral part of who he was, and as long as he was healthy to do it, he was going to do it.”