Ledyard - If the honorees for Wednesday's dedication ceremony were alive, former Ledyard High School principal Lou Gabordi was saying, he doubts they could have been coerced to go anywhere near the gym.
Judy Standish and Bob Arsenault were described several times as "legends" as Judy Dowe Standish Gymnasium and Bob Arsenault Court were christened prior to Ledyard's 58-25 girls' basketball victory over St. Bernard.
"Bob wouldn't have wanted it alone and Judy wouldn't have wanted it alone," said Patty Arsenault, Bob's widow. "Together, it makes it perfect."
Arsenault was boys' basketball coach at Ledyard from 1967-73 and started the girls' program, coaching it from 1975-82. He also was well known as the boys' cross country coach from 1966-95, compiling a record of 235-157-3. He died in 2002 at the age of 65.
Standish, a physical education teacher at Ledyard, as was Arsenault, taught and coached there from the time the school opened in 1963 until she retired in 1997. She was a longtime assistant coach in girls' basketball - going 316-128 as the program's junior varsity coach - and girls' track. Standish died in March, 2012, at the age of 70, after a nine-year fight with cancer.
"As long as Ledyard High School stands, you hope that the students that come into this gymnasium that see Bob Arsenault's name, see Judy Standish's name and ask, 'Who are they?'" Gabordi said. "... They had genuine passion and expertise. Somewhere deep in the recesses of our minds, we understand the sacrifices that coaches and educators make."
A wooden plaque honoring Standish is placed over the door of the entrance to the gym, bearing a basketball net and a winged track shoe on either side of a Ledyard Colonel.
Arsenault's name is emblazoned on both sides of Ledyard's court.
"It's with great pride and great humility that I stand here tonight," said Patty Arsenault, who was humbled to have former Ledyard students travel from New Hampshire and upstate New York for the ceremony.
"... One year I kept track of when Bob left the house and came home. At the end I told him, 'You got paid 19 cents an hour this season.' He said, 'Trish, you just ruined the whole season.' But he loved every minute of it."
The Arsenaults' son Tim is the boys' basketball and golf coach at Old Saybrook High School. Granddaughter Amy Bishop, who was in attendance Wednesday, is the boys' varsity and girls' junior varsity volleyball coach at Maloney of Meriden. Maloney is scheduled to play at Ledyard this fall, Bishop said, on her grandfather's court.
Ledyard athletic director Jim Buonocore said in a press release announcing the dedication earlier this winter: "I believe it is very important to honor the past teachers and coaches who have played such a vital role in establishing the great tradition at Ledyard High School in education and athletics."
Principal Amanda Fagan, a 1994 Ledyard graduate who was a member of the track team under Standish, referred later to Buonocore's comments.
"I love what Jim was saying, to have our current kids get to know them. I think it's important to do things like this," Fagan said. "... It's a little sad. The sadness is that we have this incredible core of athletes right now who don't get to know them, not just as a coach but even in passing. I'm glad I get to see things put to right."
Ledyard coach Adam Baber, also a graduate of the school, watched the ceremony from the bench with his players, as did the St. Bernard players and coaches.
Bill Standish of Preston, Judy's husband, used to be the Ledyard boys' JV coach under Arsenault for 10 seasons.
"It was done first class," Standish said of the evening's celebration. "I couldn't ask for anything more. I'm as proud of Judy as I can be."