Ted Heroux has spent more than half of his life coaching at Belfast Area High School. So long, in fact, that his name is synonymous with both Belfast and wrestling and he is viewed, by many, as one of the most respected and successful athletic coaches in state history.

Now Heroux, who will turn age 70 in April, can expand that geographical pat on the back from Maine to all of New England, after being honored over the weekend by the Council of New England Secondary School Principals’ Association.

Heroux was named to that organization’s New England Wrestling Hall of Fame and was one of four inductees to be honored with the award, including Ted Neil of Massachusetts, Steve Konopka of Connecticut and Steve Soares of Rhode Island.

The ceremony took place at the Providence Career and Technical Center in Providence, R.I., prior to the 2012 New England High School Wrestling Championships.

As it turned out, it was not a problem for Heroux to attend the event, as he already was on hand to coach BAHS junior Brandon Waterman, who went on to win the 132-pound weight class, in the New England championships.

It was the third individual New England champion Heroux has coached.

The New England Wrestling Hall of Fame has “roughly 40” members and has been in existence for “roughly three decades,” according to Council of New England Secondary Schools Principals’ Associations Executive Director William Savage.

Heroux certainly has had a storied coaching career, which began when he took over the Lion wrestling program from coach Harold Violette in 1967.

Forty-five years later, Heroux still is coaching — and at a high level.

“Coming right out of school from playing sports and jumping right into coaching sports is probably the most gratifying thing I’ve ever done,” said Heroux, who graduated from BAHS in 1961. “And it also rubbed off on my family. I’m just ecstatic about getting this award. There aren’t that many of them out there and you have to live forever, I guess, to get it.”

Heroux’s career accolades begin with his overall record, an impressive 602-168-3 (.782 winning percentage). Heroux has coached the Lions to eight state Class B titles and six state runner-up finishes, while winning 11 Eastern Class B championships and the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference crown 13 times. He also has been named KVAC coach of the year five times and state coach of the year three times.

On an individual level, Heroux has coached 71 state champions and 60 state runners-up. Two of those state champions were his grandsons, Kornealius Wood and Kote Aldus, the latter of whom also went on to win a New England championship.

Aldus is one of three New England champions Heroux has coached, along with Dennis Sprague and Brent Waterman, the latter of whom was crowned last weekend. Heroux also has had 11 grapplers place one through six at the New England championships.

He also is a member of the Maine Wrestling Hall of Fame, in addition to his latest induction to the New England Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Heroux is only the third Mainer to be nominated to the New England Wrestling Hall of Fame, joining Ted Reese and Wally LaFountaine.

Despite suffering a heart-related physical issue that sidelined him for the latter half of last season, before he returned to coach the regional tournament, Heroux’s spirit — along with his ability to mold young wrestlers — appears stronger than ever.

Heroux said he has contemplated wrapping up his coaching career a few times over the past decade, but the constant cycle of “good kids” that come up through from middle school to high school makes that nearly impossible to fathom.

“You start with a group of kids in fifth, sixth, seventh grade,” he said. “So you’ve got seven years with those kids and you get to know them quite well as they go through. So that group comes to you in high school and it’s like a big family [and] you get to really know the kids. Then all of the sudden the next group is coming that you’ve got all this time invested in and it just keeps snowballing.”

“We’ve never had a losing season and we always have a lot of fun,” he said.

When asked if he plans to walk away from coaching any time soon, the answer quickly became evident as the veteran coach continues to show no signs of slowing down.

“We have a great middle school program and Jeff Lovejoy, who wrestled for me, is in his second year [coaching] down there … we run the concessions and we get to see [the middle school kids] wrestle,” he said. “There’s a great group of kids coming [to high school] next year and we’re only losing two seniors this year. Belfast wrestling is alive and well.”

Sounds like a man who has accomplished so much, but is not yet ready to walk away from the mat.

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.