Article by: Ken Dunn
In the early days of Holliston sports, there was a man who took a relatively successful high school sports reputation, and made it a state-wide sensation. His name was Allan Leon Pond. He was an exceptional athlete. He played baseball and basketball. In fact he was such a solid baseball player that he had numerous baseball scouts offering him professional contracts. Instead, while he continued to enjoy playing baseball at school, he put his concentration into the Holliston High School basketball program.
When he came into the basketball program as a Freshman in 1910, he was joining a team on the rise. The 1909-10 team had a 6’4″ center by the name of Robert Brown who helped that team develop a winning attitude. But, in 1910, with the addition of Ed Brown, another 6’4″ front line giant player for that day (brother of Robert), the Holliston team suddenly had everything they needed to claim a state championship. And that is what they did. Pond was a solid team player, knowing his role to feed the ball into the big guys in his Freshman season.
As Pond’s Sophomore season began, he was looking to score more points so the team could round out their offense to a more balanced attack. Unfortunately, he developed a serious illness from appendicitis that only allowed him to play four games in 1911-12. The Brown brothers had a lot of support on that team, and they still went on to win the Central Massachusetts State Championship. In both of these first two years, the Holliston basketball team was declared State Champions by numerous news sources.
When the 1912-13 season was beginning, Pond became the scorer we know him as today. He still had the two Brown brothers playing with him, but he was taking on more responsibility in the teams offensive production. It was a good transition year for him as he averaged 13.5 points per game. And, again, the team won the Central Massachusetts State Championship with big margins over the best teams in the state. They also were playing and beating larger city schools in the State Tournaments. It was an exceptional team that won their first 15 games and ended the season with 20 wins.
The 1913-14 Senior season for Allan Pond started with some questions regarding the team’s strength. They lost Robert Brown and a good shooter J.L. Shea to graduation, and it was a question as to who would fill their shoes. Well, Allan Pond stepped right in and had one of the greatest seasons a Holliston player could dream of. He started his Senior season with a bang, scoring in successive games 42 ( a new school single game scoring record), 37, 40, 21, 35, 23 and 23 points.
The point totals are even more impressive when you note that they were playing the best basketball teams in the area, and many were challenge matches by independent teams and larger city schools that were ready for the challenge. He scored in double figures in 24 of 28 games. He produced 53% of his teams points over the year and the team won the Central Massachusetts State Championship for the 4th straight year! It was absolutely an exceptional year for the Senior, Allan Pond!
Pond finished his career with 1,003 points and four State Championships. He played against the best competition Massachusetts could put in his way during his career. All that with very limited scoring in his first two seasons. Had he played the full season in his Sophomore year, he would have easily surpassed the 1,100 point total. It was an exceptional high school career for Pond.
After graduation, Allan Pond went to the Massachusetts Agricultural College (now known as UMass-Amherst). He immediately learned how to play football where he became one of the most well-known players in Massachusetts and New England college football. He excelled at the game, earning his varsity letter in his sophomore year. It was only the second year he had ever played the game. He did all the kicking for the Aggies, and became a solid running back and defensive player. He was also playing basketball for the Aggies, and baseball as well. He academics were exceptional. When World War I interfered with the upcoming 1917 football season, he dropped everything and went into the military to defend his country. He joined the 14th Railway Engineers and sailed for France in July 1917. He was a victim of mustard gas, but overcame the ordeal. After surviving the Great War, he came back to the Aggies at the Agricultural College, and was elected Captain of the football team and President of the Class of 1920.
Unfortunately, in February of 1920, he got the flu and it suddenly turned into pneumonia, and he died on February 26, 1920. It was a sudden tragedy that struck at the very heart of the Aggie and Holliston family. He was so loved and respected, the college set up the Allan Leon Pond Memorial Medal that would be awarded annually to the football player “who added the most value to the team and reflects the most credit to the college.” Maybe Holliston should honor his life in a similar way today.
In the end, Holliston High School sports had a solid foundation set for them through the talent, character and life of Allan Pond, our very own Jim Thorpe.