Richard “Doc” Labonte, a well-known athletic trainer in southern Maine, died Nov. 27 at his home in Venice, Florida, after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 76.
In 1974, Labonte became the first certified athletic trainer in Maine when he joined the staff at Biddeford High. He also served as the athletic trainer at Thornton Academy in Saco and Massabesic High in Waterboro before retiring in 2008.
“Prior to Doc, coaches taped kids, coaches diagnosed injuries, which they weren’t supposed to do,” said Don Wilson, the former athletic director at Biddeford. “He brought a lot of knowledge to the first aid of athletic injuries.
“He brought professionalism to athletic training is what Doc did.”
Labonte, who also worked with the U.S. Olympic luge team in Lake Placid, New York, was known for his wit on the sidelines. He would often joke with the athletes as he treated them.
He was born in Portland on July 22, 1939.
Biddeford High athletic director Dennis Walton said the school would hold a moment of silence for Labonte before each of its varsity basketball games this weekend.
Visiting hours will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 11 at Hope Memorial Chapel on Elm Street in Biddeford. A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Dec. 12 at St. Joseph Church in Biddeford.