James Soule has a distinction that not many Maine athletes can claim: twice he was the mayor of South Portland.
Okay, he has another rare distinction, this one more based on his athletic skills: in 1977, after graduating from Bowdoin, he signed a free agent contract with the Dallas Cowboys and spent part of training camp with a team that went on to win the Super Bowl, running alongside all-time great running back Tony Dorsett.
No one should be surprised at either distinction. Soule was raised to be civic minded and a leader. He was also one of the very best football players the state ever produced.
Thirty years after he graduated from Bowdoin College, he still holds several school records, including rushing yards in a game (270), season (1,140), and career (2,634), as well as touchdowns in a game (5) and season (12) and career carries (533).
"In 16 years as head coach at Bowdoin College, I had the privilege of coaching a number of very good running backs," said Jim Luntz, who coached at Bowdoin from 1968-84. "Jim Soule was outstanding among these great athletes. Speed and acceleration were hallmarks of his performance on the field. He was a very strong runner with toughness and durability accompanied by an uncanny ability to get the most out of every play when he carried the ball."
He was not only an outstanding football player at Morse High in Bath, helping the Shipbuilders to state titles in 1969, 1970, and 1971, but excelled in track, where he held the state record in the 180-yard low hurdles. He continued both sports at Philips Exeter Academy, where he helped the football team to a New England Prep School championship in 1973 and was a New England champion in the low hurdles in 1974.
Former teammate and long-time friend David Sweetser said Soule's ability to excel in more than one sport was significant.
"He was as comfortable and successful on the track in an individual sport in which he relied upon himself to provide intensity, drive and focus, as he was in a team environment in which he was looked upon for leadership and confidence," said Sweetser in nominating Soule for his honor. "Jim didn't request this responsibility. He simply assumed it."
At Bowdoin, Soule was named the UPI college division Player of the Year, the only Polar Bear to ever receive the honor.
After his tryout with the Cowboys, Soule came home and got into coaching at every level.
He is the president, CEO and owner of A-B.E.S.T. Window, Inc., and is very active in community politics.
In addition to being the Mayor of South Portland in 1989-90 and 1991-92, he has served on the City Council for six years.
Soule and his wife Lydia live in South Portland. They have three children, sons Adam and Jason, and daughter Lindsay, all of whom have excelled in track.
Maine Sports Hall of Fame
P.O. Box 2
Cumberland, ME 04021
Phone (207) 807-7666
The Maine Sports Hall of Fame was established in 1972 for the purpose of: 1) appointing and bestowing recognition awards and scholarships to outstanding Maine high school scholar-athletes; and, 2) to formally honor and memorialize Maine athletes and sports figures who have brought distinction and honor to the state of Maine.