Honoring Junior Bernal Bath ’04

Last night I joined a contingent of Hyde folks for a 2-1/2 hour drive north to Orono, Maine to watch Junior Bernal Bath ’04 play his last home game for The Univ. of Maine Black Bears. While it was great fun to watch Junior lead his team as both captain and point guard to a victory over U Albany, it was inspirational to see the pre- and post-game tributes in his honor.

At the reception, Coach Ted Woodward spoke of Junior’s many accomplishments:

  • The only UMaine basketball player to accumulate the combination of 1000+ points, 500+ rebounds, 300+ assists, and 150+ steals over a career.
  • He never had less than a 3.0 GPA in any semester. (Having already graduated with a degree in Child Development & Family Relations, he’s now studying toward a Masters.)
  • Five-time Maine Scholar-Athlete Award winner.
  • The only 3-time captain in school history.
  • 2-time America East Conference All-Academic Team.

Beyond the impressive stat line, there was a lot of love and admiration in the room: Junior’s family, his buddy and Hyde classmate Richie Ortega ’04, his teammates, our Hyde contingent. You could feel it.

When it came Junior’s time to speak, he was his usual honorable self, giving all credit to his coaches, his teammates, the PG year he spent at MCI, and those who helped him along the way. He gave special mention to his time at Hyde, stating that had he not experienced those years, he doubts that he would have been standing there at that very moment making “this speech.”

At one point, his cousin pulled the Hyde group together and said, “On behalf of our family, I want to thank each and every one of you for making the long drive up here and for all you did for Junior while he was with you. He speaks of Hyde often. Our whole family deeply appreciates it.”

I replied with the first thing that popped into my head: “Thanks for sending him to us. Hey, this is a lot of fun for us too. After all, Junior is sure making us look good tonight!”

Yeah, it was a lot of fun to be a Hyde teacher last night. Congratulations Junior! Good luck on the post-season and I hope you get a bad case of March Madness!

Onward, Malcolm Gauld