George Evans (Heb)
George Heberton “Heb” Evans was born in October, 1927 in Baltimore, Maryland. He attended the Gilman School in Maryland from which he graduated in 1945. There he was a standout in wrestling, football, and lacrosse, and also wrote for the school newspaper. During his wrestling career at Gilman, Heb was a two-time National Prep finalist, winning the championship in 1945. He went on to Princeton University from which he graduated in 1949. He played varsity lacrosse and wrestled at the JV level for the Tigers. He was a military sergeant (artillery) stationed in Germany from 1951-1953.
Evans went on to epitomize the triple threat as a faculty member at Governor Dummer Academy (GDA) in Byfield, Massachusetts from 1949 to 1985. Evans was a math teacher, dorm parent, and a legendary wrestling and lacrosse coach. As a math teacher, he wrote the computer science text for the school. In his almost four decades at GDA, he built athletic skills and inspired greatness in his students. Of his coach, Lou Higgins GDA Class of 1964 said, “Calling Heb a coach is like calling Everest a mountain, or The Empire State a building - it's true, but inadequate. For almost 35 years, he built athletic skills and inspired greatness. His tools were a relentless attention to fundamentals and a merciless insistence that we always, ALWAYS play our best.” Evans was inducted into The Governor’s Academy Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.
A trailblazer and innovator in athletics, Heb was instrumental in forming the New England prep school wrestling leagues. As head coach of wrestling at GDA from 1958 to 1985, he led his team to four undefeated seasons in 1959, 1960, 1962, and 1963, earned two Class-A Championships in 1962 and 1963, one Graves Kelsey (Independent School League) Championship in 1982, and a New England Championship in 1983. His overall record of 200-115-7 is astonishing.
Steve Ward (a 2009 Hall of Fame inductee) stated, “Heb was one of a kind and at the same time a throwback to an earlier era when student athletes didn’t get much pampering. He was really a tough old bear but with a heart of gold. To those who saw through his tough exterior, he was loved and revered. He was one of the best coaches I encountered during my 40 year career of coaching wrestling.”
From 1958-1984, Evans was the head coach of varsity boys lacrosse, leading his GDA team to a New England Championship in 1966 and a Northern New England Prep School Championship in 1977. He amassed a 235-134-3 record. He was inducted into the New England Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1995. Evans’ book, Lacrosse Fundamentals, is still used as a handbook for coaches and players around the country. One of his former lacrosse players wrote, “Heb made us believe that any game on any day can be won. All it takes is complete mastery of fundamentals coupled with the best conditioning, fired by the greatest desire. Green Bay had Lombardi. We had Heb.”
In the reflections of his students, athletes, and colleagues, it is clear that Evans is a legend for many reasons. His students and athletes recognized his work ethic and dedication to education through his coaching. He spent hours and hours teaching new techniques while studying the sport of wrestling at length. At wrestling meets he could be seen speaking into a tape recorder, memorializing opponents’ moves to better beat them in the next encounter. His signature expression, in his recognizable deep voice, when one of his athletes made a mistake was “Good Lord.” Like all great coaches, he was superstitious and wonderfully idiosyncratic. He always wore Brine athletic socks, the same necktie, the same gray herringbone Harris tweed jacket, and highly polished loafers. His teams were strong, dedicated, talented, always well prepared, and consistently competitive.
An avid outdoorsman, Heb worked at summer camps, where he often led canoeing expeditions. From the 1950’s until the early 1980’s, he guided campers on canoeing trips in northern New England, New York, Ontario, and Quebec. Not only was Heb a technical master of wilderness travel, but he used the outdoor environment to educate and shape the characters of young adults as well.
Evans passed away on February 12, 1985. His legacy was felt long beyond his death.
Lifetime Service to Wrestling