RICHMOND – There can never be a definite timeline for turning tragedy into triumph.
This is for Hollywood scripts and fairy tales – a few hours or a set number of pages, then resolution. Margins are rarely this sharp or easily defined in real life.
Sunday morning brought such a moment for the Potts family and the Chariho regional community as a whole. This perfect occasion under blue skies took almost five years to prepare, because the Maddie Potts Memorial Country Home was dedicated on the high school campus.
Ribbons were cut in front of glass doors right next to the football field and behind the baseball net. A two-story atrium welcomes visitors, with photos of Potts strewn on the surrounding walls and his number 11 jersey painted blue on the floor. Changing rooms, restrooms, a concession stand and more—–it’s the type of facility that will meet a wide variety of needs for athletes and visitors alike.
“To see what this stadium represents is an incredible achievement for so many people,” said outgoing Chariho sporting director Mike Shiels. “I’m so proud to be involved.”
Maddie Potts Legacy
Potts was hit on the adjacent pitch in September 2017, died of a brain aneurysm before having the chance to graduate with her classmates. The outstanding soccer and lacrosse player left a legacy of giving and selflessness, a legacy carried on by her family – her parents, Dan and Stephanie, and her younger sister, Julia. It was their passion project that came to fruition with the help of others in the community – some old friends, some who reached out along the way to offer support and empathy.
“We made it as durable and low maintenance as possible, but better looking than ever,” said Stephanie Potts. “We created it to represent our daughter, who will be remembered for how she lived her life even more than how she died.”
The official inauguration took place in April 2021, and the collaborative effort between the school’s booster club and the Maddie Potts Foundation The council raised over $600,000. Design and engineering firms offered their services for a nominal fee. South Kingstown resident Frank Karpowicz reached out to Stephanie Potts via Facebook with an offer to serve as the facility’s architect.
“It’s a testament to the loss, the faith and the emotion they have for this school and their daughter,” said John Dobson, Vice President of the Recall Club.
A suite named after Hallie Linacre
Chargers athletes and visiting teams will find ample space for pre-game, post-game and halftime chats. Wireless Internet access allows coaches to show videos before or during games. Officials will dress in a suite bearing the name of the deceased Hallie Linacrea teammate and close friend of Potts who died in May 2020 after suffering cardiac arrest in her sleep.
“A lot of people ask me how I survived the loss of Maddie, and the answer is simple – you,” Julia Potts said, addressing a crowd that sprawled on lawn chairs and cowered under a handful of standing awnings. “Without you, I wouldn’t be here. I would have lost my fight against grief.
A handful of balloons nailed to the outside wall popped during the presentation. More than one speaker hinted at a possible unseen guest in the crowd doing a little mischief. A frame at the front of the podium featured a white Chariho jersey and a sketch of the facility plans. The bricks on the entrance walkway will be sold as a fundraiser to maintain the facility and support the Maddie Potts Foundation.
“Maddie wasn’t a perfect human, but she was the perfect sister,” Julia Potts said. “To me, she was everything to me.”
“We’ve only just started”
The building replaces a wooden cabin located on the other side of the end zone of the adjacent parking lot. Dobson noted mats on the floor that covered growing holes, a lack of running water, and no heating. Fall nights and spring afternoons tended to be rather chilly. The short side entry didn’t always cooperate with his 6-foot-3 frame—there was always the risk of an unnecessary head bump.
“I made a promise to you on 9/23/17 that all of your hard work and dedication would not be wasted,” Stephanie Potts said, speaking directly to her late daughter during part of her remarks. “Today we celebrate that promise, and we’re just getting started.”
To buy a brick or donate, visit maddiepottsfoundation.org or email [email protected]
On Twitter: @BillKoch25
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