Sense of Direction
John Webb ’83 was a dogged competitor on the MMA wrestling team while attending the school as a marine engineering major.
“I was never a great athlete, but I was certainly a determined athlete,” he says.
Webb’s perseverance has defined his success and approach to adversity, and he gives substantial credit to his experience at MMA.
“It was a great fit for me academically and socially,” says Webb, “and it gave me the butt kick I needed at that stage of life.”
Webb is a successful trial lawyer with his own practice in Southern Maine, held in high regard by his peers, “and the kind of guy you want in your corner,” says one classmate.
Although he aspired to be a lawyer from the age of 12, Webb calculated that his best chance was to attend MMA for not only self-discipline, but also leadership and learning ability he would later leverage to succeed at the University of Vermont Law School.
“When I graduated I had a ready-made set of skills, and quickly found a job as a mechanical engineer at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard,” he says.
His work initially focused on steam line piping, but he was drawn by the complexity and capability of the Nimitz class aircraft carriers produced by the yard and worked his way into a multi-disciplined field engineering position that allowed him to travel the world and troubleshoot onboard problems.
“I loved, loved, loved every minute I spent on those carriers,” he says. “They’re a fascinating city that floats on water. And I marvel at how great they operate and are still being built.”
But he was eventually inspired to pursue his law degree, followed by a three-year internship with the York County, Maine District Attorney’s Office that introduced him to the specialty of criminal law.
He was soon faced, though, with a life-changing decision. Because of congenital problems with his legs, he was forced to choose between a life dependent on a wheelchair for mobility or amputation and the use of prostheses that would challenge him to learn to walk anew. He chose the latter.
“And not surprisingly,” he says, “the same kind of hard work, self-discipline and mindset to succeed no matter what, that I learned at MMA, got me back on my feet and walking into the courtroom instead of rolling into the courtroom.”
As his law practice continues to progress, “nothing has changed,” he says. “The same focus and attention to detail I learned in 1983 still applies. It’s the thread that weaves its way through the last 30 years and, hopefully, the years to come.”█
Photo: Billy R. Sims