In a league of his own: Rectory record holder Theron Foley ‘87
When does greatness first appear in life? And what allows some to maintain this greatness as the ponds get bigger and bigger? These questions are easily answered when considering Theron Foley, this year’s inductee into the Rectory School Athletic Wall of Honor.
Greatness for Theron appears to have begun pretty much at birth. His application to Rectory, completed by his parents when Theron was but 10 years old, lists more accomplishments and accolades than many of us will acquire in a lifetime. These include notable distinctions in:
● Soccer, where his elite team had already won three conference championships. During this run, Theron was high scorer all three years and was twice selected as a Southeast All-Star.
● Swimming, where Theron received invitations to the county meet for freestyle and butterfly 3 years running, in Georgia no less, where swimming is especially competitive.
● Track, where Theron was a finalist for the Fulton County meet as well as a finalist at the Georgia state meet where he competed in the 50, 100, 220, and 440.
To no one’s surprise, in response to the Hobbies question listed on Theron’s Rectory application the answer was: all sports.
Despite playing against older, more physically advanced competition, Theron’s Rectory years only further cemented his fame. In four years, across three sports—football, hockey, and lacrosse—Theron demonstrated excellence and was an integral part of the success his teams achieved. This is most evident in Theron’s final stunning ninth-grade season in football. In addition to being voted captain and receiving the MVP award at season end, along the way, Theron set the following records:
● most yards rushing in a season (1154)
● most points in a season (108)
● most touchdowns in a season (17)
● longest run from scrimmage (91 yards)
● most touchdowns in one game with four, which he did twice, tying the school record.
● As a defensive back, he was the second leading tackler on the team with 39 tackles.
This was all accomplished over a six-game season. Rectory won them all achieving its first undefeated season in football.
Outside of records, the comment Coach (Walt) Dagle wrote summing up Theron's performance more importantly noted, “The above statistics tell a glorious story about a very dedicated young athlete. His intensity, dedication, loyalty, and toughness are the best I've seen in 26 years of coaching. This boy is a fine person. He knows what discipline is all about. He knows how to lead.” Coach (Tom) Washburn echoed this sentiment in Theron’s hockey comment sharing, “If there is one boy who shows leadership and good work ethics through his own efforts, Theron is the one. He enjoys working hard in practice and is always trying to improve his individual as well as team play.”
While Theron’s Rectory years are a highlight reel of greatness spilling across all of his sports, what stands out more is the effort and attitude fueling his success. In Theron’s secondary school recommendation, Mr. Cassell, Rectory’s secondary school counselor, noted, “There are few boys who are dedicated enough to give up a portion of their Summer's Day, I do mean every single day, to come back to campus and run the fields and cross country trails.” Theron’s drive was legendary and earned him the John Frazer Austin trophy given to the student who “best exemplifies the Rectory fighting spirit that will not allow him to quit.” Earning this award once is one of Rectory’s highest honors. Theron did it twice—in eighth grade and then again in ninth. No other student has ever received a named award in successive years.
Theron’s success at Rectory is legendary, but even in the bigger ponds at Avon Old Farms and then Ohio Wesleyan University, Theron stood head and shoulders above the rest. At Avon, Theron received the Lance Odden Award given to the Division 1 high school offensive player of the year in football, and he was selected as an All-American and played in the Brine East/West Lacrosse all-star game serving as captain for the east team.
At Ohio Wesleyan, Theron led his lacrosse team to Midwest Lacrosse Association and North Coast Athletic Conference championships and a spot in the NCAA Division III championship game against Hobart. During his career at OW, he earned All-NCAC and All-American selections multiple times. He was also invited to play in the college North-South all-star game. Even in the biggest of ponds, Theron achieved standout success.
Returning to Rectory, then Headmaster John Green expounded on the broad impact Theron had on school life, “No boy in the school has received any stronger reports than Theron. On the field, in the classroom, everywhere, Theron is an outstanding example of the value of persistence and determination—qualities Theron could have invented.”
Today we induct Theron Foley into the Rectory School Athletic Wall of Honor. In doing so, we put his athletic accomplishments front and center. In the process, Theron’s achievements, as detailed by his coaches, remind us of two crucial lessons. The first lesson is that while Theron was a gifted athlete, he excelled because of his hard work and effort. The second lesson is that sports provides a training ground for who we are or want to be as a person. It is clear Theron’s stature as a person equaled if not exceeded his otherworldly athletic statistics.
In hindsight, though Rectory was one of Theron’s smaller ponds, that does not diminish the importance of these formative middle school years. As he shared with us recently, “One of my greatest achievements that helped set the stage for my interest in athletics was the Rectory Athlete of the Week Award. I hold 18 of them and have them tucked away in a box.”
Those 18 player of the week awards now have good company with this plaque as we proudly add your name to Rectory’s Athletic Wall of Honor. Congratulations, Theron Foley.
- Athletic Wall of Honor