Colby dedicated the men’s basketball locker room in honor of Matt Gaudet ’95 in recognition of the points he scored on the court and the courage and perseverance he exemplifies off the court in a day-long celebration on Saturday, June 18.
Gaudet and dozens of his teammates, family, and friends returned to Mayflower Hill to attend the Matt Gaudet ’95 Men’s Basketball Locker Room dedication at the Harold Alfond Athletics and Recreation Center. Gaudet, who suffered a spinal cord injury in a diving accident in 2001, thanked his parents for raising him to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat, and said that his teammates’ faith in him helped him overcome his challenges.
“I have so much to be thankful for,” said Gaudet, who lives in Minnesota and works as a mortgage loan officer. “There are so many amazing people who are close to my heart. Your unwavering support means the world to me.”
A group of Colby basketball brethren, dubbed the Locker Room Tribute Team, launched a group fundraising effort in March 2021 to name the locker room after Gaudet. The group included Chad Higgins ’97, past chair of the Alumni Council; David Stephens ’96; Glenn McCrum ’94; Greg Walsh ’95; Trustee Jim Crook ’78, P’11 and Andrea Crook P’11; and Paul Conway ’98. More than 115 people contributed to the campaign.
Colby President David A. Greene talked about “the deeper connections” among teammates and how they always lift each other up. He said the naming of the Matt Gaudet ’95 Men’s Basketball Locker Room is an example of the lasting commitments and lifelong bonds that begin at Colby.
“This building will be here for at least the next 100 years and maybe more,” Greene said, addressing Gaudet, “and everybody who walks through the door of that locker room is going to know your name, who you are, and what you represent to the world. That is a beautiful, powerful, and lasting thing, and everybody who made that possible deserves our thanks and gratitude.”
As a sophomore point guard under the tutelage of head coach Richard “Dick” Whitmore, Gaudet led the Mules to the 1993 Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference title. Colby’s record was 85-16 during his four seasons, with two NCAA appearances. Gaudet, who grew up in Rumford, Maine, scored 1,487 points. He was a two-time Honorable Mention All-American and Maine College Player of the Year in 1995. Colby retired his number 22, and the Maine Basketball Hall of Maine inducted him in 2019.
But it’s Gaudet’s tenacious spirit and his commitment to his friendships that remain in play today. Inspired by the loyalty of brotherhood, coaches and teammates rallied behind Gaudet since his diving accident, hosting annual golf tournaments to raise money for him and supporting him in other ways. When the NCAA Final Four tournament was in Minneapolis, 25 of his friends made the trip to visit him.
Gaudet’s legacy, as written by the Locker Room Tribute Team, is two-fold:
“Matt’s success speaks for itself—85 wins during his career, an ECAC Championship, two NCAA tourney trips, and Colby’s 10th all-time leading scorer. On the court he consistently dazzled with his skill, poise, leadership, and ability to make the important plays when they were needed most. His teammates and fans were consistently in awe of his command on the court and his ability to perform both offensively and defensively. Matt made the impossible look simple.
In addition to Matt being a phenomenal player and teammate at Colby, his performance off the court adds to the beauty of this acknowledgement. Matt suffered a devastating spinal cord injury in May 2001 and has lived the past 20 years as a quadriplegic. His remarkable life is a testament to Matt’s courage, perseverance, humility, and attitude, which continue to astound and inspire all of us.”
Among those who attended the dedication were Gaudet’s parents, Barbara Gaudet P’95 and Stephen Gaudet P’95 and his brother Steve, as well as Whitmore, his former coach. Whitmore, who is also a member of the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame and enjoys his own legendary status at Colby with 637 wins and a head coaching position named in his honor, said he was “proud to be associated with a basketball program with Matt Gaudet’s name on in” and cited Gaudet’s inner strength as a testament to his character.
Walsh, Gaudet’s former teammate and close friend, described Gaudet as tough and selfless, the kind of teammate who made everyone else better. Gaudet received a lot of attention for the points he scored, and rightly so, Walsh said, but he also doled out a lot of assists—close to 500. “Matt always thought it was more important to get everybody involved,” he said. “We were a better team because of that.”
Having a locker room named in one’s honor “is ridiculously cool” because locker rooms are special places with sacred traditions that are passed among generations, Walsh said. “There is no better honor we can give to Matt than to have his name attached to this locker room from now until the end of time.”
Gaudet said he felt a wave of emotions when Walsh called to tell him about the locker room idea. The emotions represented the realization that “the people who know me best despite being so far away for so long understand the challenges that I face every single day and the challenges that I will never escape but that I won’t back down from.”
He said he was “forever grateful and so proud to have my name on a plaque on a state-of-the-art athletic complex at one of the most prestigious colleges in the United States. I hope that plaque inspires Colby basketball teams to always play hard. Go Mules!”
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