Former Chariho girls’ soccer standout Maddie Potts would have turned twenty-one on Sunday. In the three-and-a-half years since her passing, friends, family and even strangers continue to celebrate her life.
“I hope they remember a girl who gave everything to everyone ahead of herself,” Maddie’s mother, Stephanie Potts said. “Who worked hard every day of her short seventeen years to make those around her better.”
Potts is dearly missed, but she is not gone. She will never be “gone.” Her character, values and spirit are ever present in the Chariho community, and her livelihood is now taking new form at Chariho high school.
“The field house currently means everything,” Stephanie Potts said.
On Sunday, April 11th at 11:00 am, the Chariho High School Athletic Stadium will host a groundbreaking ceremony for the Maddie Potts Memorial Field House, which will be fully funded by the Maddie Potts Foundation. The elevens in the event’s date are no coincidence. Forever Eleven means always. Potts was born nearly twenty-one years ago on April 11th, 2000, and she departed this world on September 23rd, 2017.
In response to this unthinkable loss, Chariho continues to honor its promise to the Potts family, and Maddie’s mother, Stephanie, has also kept her word.
“I made a promise to Maddie’ in the last moments of her life that I wouldn’t let anyone forget her, all her hard work and sacrifice,” Stephanie said. “This community has already assured me that Maddie will never be forgotten, which is why we are giving them this field house. And we’ve only just begun to give back in all the ways Maddie would have done herself.”
September is BRAIN ANEURYSM AWARENESS month. Our daughter Maddie died in September💔. She was 17, Capt of her teams & athlete of the year. So please, be kind, reach out, put others before yourself & think of Maddie. Bc that’s always what she did 💙#maddiementality® #Forever11 ® pic.twitter.com/cG5kxFlllr
— Maddie Potts Foundation (@mpfoundation11) September 2, 2020
The plans for the field house are as ambitious and well-intended as the young girl behind its inspiration and cause. The building will span over 3,000 square feet and be accessible for all the sports who utilize the stadium side of campus, particularly for their home games, including football, baseball, field hockey, track, cross country, men and women’s soccer and lacrosse. The field house will include an athletic training room, home locker room, private visiting team area, private referee locker room, six indoor bathrooms, an upgraded concession stand and a central “Maddie Mentality” Atrium to host senior nights and small community events.
“Maddie always gave 111% to everything she did, particularly athletics.” Stephanie said. “Not everyone can be a better athlete, or a better artist, but we can all be better people. That is what the ‘Maddie Mentality’ is really all about.”
When first thinking about how to honor Maddie, the Potts family started to plan “The Maddie Potts Indoor Track and Practice Facility.” Except, they couldn’t find enough land on campus, and they realized it would be a multi-million-dollar venture. That goal was put on hold as it will likely take several years to achieve.
“We then thought about what Maddie would have wanted and what the school and athletes really needed.” Stephanie said.
The Maddie Potts Memorial Field House grew from there, and the Maddie Potts Foundation raised upward of $700,000 to make it happen.
Maddies “Senior night”, 2017. The one she never had 💔. But we’ve been surrounded by so much love that has fueled us to continue her legacy & already accomplish so many amazing things. $530,000 raised for her Field House, still much more to go. Donate at https://t.co/fZdh2EcYXX pic.twitter.com/E1nikUBEN5
— Maddie Potts Foundation (@mpfoundation11) October 9, 2020
“This community is unstoppable. They have given their time, their thoughts and their memories of Maddie in the most amazing ways,” Stephanie Potts said. “They’ve expressed openly how our loss has helped make their lives more worth living. I’m repeatedly told stories of many that never knew Maddie, but somehow, they feel like they do. That is an incredibly priceless gift.”
The field house means so much to the Potts family and the Maddie Potts Foundation, a group of people who have endured tremendous losses over the course of the past few years. Maddie’s best friend, Hallie Linacre, passed away on May 8th, 2020 due to a cardiac arrhythmia. Most recently, the Maddie Potts Foundation Treasurer, Keith Frost, died from an acute cardiac arrest.
On THEIR special night they thought of us 🥰.This group are warriors! Freshman on 9/23/17, now their senior yr. They’ll do incredible things simply bc of what they’ve seen, survived & persevered to accomplish. & now a 7-0 win! Thank you💙. #forever11 #foreveryourcaptain ⚽️💚 pic.twitter.com/IVJWafGbaw
— Maddie Potts Foundation (@mpfoundation11) October 11, 2020
There are no words to provide comfort to those who mourn loved ones, only a feeling of hope that fills a small portion of the gaping hole left behind. When people come together to show their support, to share memories and celebrate life, it’s a reminder that the departed are not gone. Their spirit lives on in different ways that are hard to explain.
The Maddie Potts Memorial Field House is a symbol of a new beginning for the Potts Family and for Maddie herself.
“From the moment I walked up the press box stairs to Maddie’s vigil on 9/25/2017, I knew I needed to help these kids – Maddie’s teammates, friends and peers – find a way through this most tragic of losses,” Stephanie Potts said. “I needed to help them heal in order to help my younger daughter as well as myself survive this. It seemed unbearable, but we did it, and the only way is by doing it together.”