The Amesbury Hall of Fame was established to recognize the greatest athletes in Amesbury High history, but in the eyes of many, there was an entire generation of legends whose contributions risked going unrecognized.
Tonight, many of those legends will finally get their due.
The Amesbury Hall of Fame will induct its fourth class this evening, and more than half of the nine inductees represent the early era of the school’s athletic history. The class in large part reflects the efforts of the Amesbury Sports Committee, which formed in the fall of 2017 and pored through old yearbooks and records compiled by the late Bert Spofford, who is himself being inducted as a contributor.
Among the early era standouts being honored are Bill Clark (’29), Bikes Wallace (’31) and Snookie Gamble (’53), all of whom were three-sport standouts who helped power some of Amesbury football’s best teams in the 1920s through the 50s. Albie Roy, one of the pioneers of hockey in Amesbury and a member of the Mass Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame, is another such figure, as are comparatively recent inductees Desi Desautels (’65) and David Motsis (’74).
The two most recent inductees are Melanie Ward and Nikki Savastano-Gadsby, two of the most decorated female athletes in school history who starred for the Indians on the track and on the softball field respectively.
The induction will take place in the Amesbury High auditorium starting at 6:30 p.m. and all are welcome to attend. Here is more information on the nine inductees, which was compiled by the Amesbury Hall of Fame committee and from available Daily News records.
Bill Clark was one of the greatest athletes of his era, starring in football, hockey, track and baseball between 1925-29. In football he set a career scoring record of 222 points that stood until 1971, and in baseball he was a four-year starter who finished with a career batting average of .385, including a .370 average as a junior and .464 as a senior. He earned 15 varsity letters over the course of his high school career before graduating in 1929, and he would later go on to star at Dartmouth College before becoming a longtime administrator at Exeter Academy.
Vitold (Bikes) Wallace
Bikes Wallace was a standout three-sport athlete, playing football, basketball and baseball before graduating in 1931. Wallace was an all-star pitcher and a captain on both the football and baseball team, and as an adult he returned to Amesbury High and became a longtime teacher and coach. He coached football, basketball and baseball at various levels from 1944 until 1977 and was a key influence on an entire generation of Amesbury students.
Albert (Albie) Roy
Albie Roy was among the top hockey coaches of his era, building up the Amesbury High boys hockey program in the 1950s before leading it to its first state tournament appearance 1957-58. He compiled a 52-42-9 record over his two stints as coach between 1954-59 and 1961-62. Roy, who was a great player himself as a member of the Amesbury Maples club, played a key role in the creation of the town’s first hockey rink at the Amesbury Middle School and later the parks program for Amesbury’s youth. He was inducted into the Massachusetts Hockey Coaches Hall of Fame in 1982.
Willard (Snookie) Gamble
Snookie Gamble was one of the top players from Tony Tassinari’s Amesbury football dynasty in the 1950s. The Class of 1953 graduate earned eight varsity letters in football, basketball, baseball, tennis track, and on the gridiron he scored 192 points in his career, leading the state in scoring to earn All-American Honorable Mention as a senior. He also went undefeated in dual meets in the 440-yard run in track as a senior. And as a junior he played a prominent role in the most infamous high school football game in area history, scoring two touchdowns to help Amesbury beat Newburyport 99-6 on Thanksgiving of 1951.
Paul (Desi) Desautels
Desi Desautels was among Amesbury High’s top athletes of the 1960s, earning eight varsity letters in football, baseball, hockey and golf before his graduation in 1965. He was the team’s leading rusher and a starting linebacker who earned All-Northeastern Conference honors before taking part in the Agganis All-Star Football Game. Desautels was also a three-year varsity hockey player who led the team in scoring all three seasons, as well as a two-year varsity baseball player who earned All-NEC honors. He earned Team MVP in all three sports.
David Motsis was a three-year starter at goalie for the Amesbury hockey team, and he remains the school’s all-time leader in net with 40 wins and 16 shutouts. The Class of 1974 graduate led the Indians to three Cape Ann League championships on the ice, earned CAL All-Star honors in 1973 and received the program’s Outstanding Career Contribution award in 1974. Motsis was also named a Prep All-American by Coach and Athlete Magazine in football as a standout running back and was a three-time CAL All-Star as a four-year starting centerfielder in baseball, helping lead the Indians to CAL titles in each of those sports as well. Motsis went on to become a longtime assistant baseball coach for Amesbury High between 1999-2007.
Melanie Ward was a four-year varsity athlete in soccer, basketball and track, serving as captain in all three sports by the time she graduated in 1996. As a senior she went undefeated in the 400-meter run, winning the CAL championship before going on to finish in the top six at All-States. From there she ran a national qualifying time at the New England Championships, becoming one of the first Amesbury track athletes to compete at nationals. Her school record of 58.6 in the 400 still stands to this day, and she also held the school records in the 100 and 200 for 21 years. “In my 35 years of coaching she’s the toughest female athlete I ever coached,” said longtime Amesbury track coach Ernie Bissaillon. “Just a really dedicated individual.” Ward also earned CAL All-Star honors in both soccer and basketball.
One of the most decorated female athletes in school history, Nikki Savastano-Gadsby was a four-time All-Cape Ann League pitcher and three-time CAL Player of the Year who played a crucial role in leading the Amesbury High softball team to a state championship as a senior in 1997. Along the way she also earned Boston Globe and Boston Herald All-Scholastic honors, and by the time her career was done she had compiled a career record of 62-6. Savastano-Gadsby was also a four-year varsity player in soccer and basketball, and today she serves as Amesbury softball’s pitching coach under head coach Jacquie Waters.
Harold (Bert) Spofford
One of the most influential sports figures in area history, Bert Spofford was a historian responsible for preserving and documenting almost a century’s worth of records and stats for local high school teams. Though his contributions extended well beyond Amesbury, he did serve as the Indians’ head baseball coach for six seasons and earned the Mass Baseball Association’s Award of Distinction, as well as Amesbury’s Citizen of the Year award in 1992. Since his death in 2007, the Bert Spofford Memorial Baseball Tournament has been held annually over Memorial Day weekend in his honor.