To The Presque Isle HS Girls Soccer Team; We’ve Got You Right Now
There are times when we can't explain why or how we end up in a particular moment but somehow know in all of the chaos, you are in the moment you were meant to be in. That opening line is confusing, but by the end of this piece you will know what I mean.
There are some moments that unexplainable
Wednesday the 19th of October in 2022 will be a date I may not always remember, but I will always remember the moments I experienced on that evening. I was working a scrimmage between the girls’ soccer teams of Presque Isle and Houlton. Two teams who had fantastic regular seasons and were getting in a competitive scrimmage before getting to the playoffs. It was a mild and breezy fall evening as close to perfect as you can get for the time of year.
There is no playbook on this situation
My partner and I discussed with the coaches what they would like to see throughout the scrimmage and we made a plan to do a few rounds of penalty kicks at halftime. The scrimmage begins and the girls on both sides played and took instruction from their coaches. Everything went smooth through the first half and the penalty kicks at halftime appeared to be fun for the "kids.” I used quotations because after the penalty kicks, these kids were having to become adults in an instant.
As we were getting ready to begin play something was off. The coaching staff and administration from Presque Isle quickly rushed the team into the locker room area and pulled the curtains. As my partner and I started to look at each other to figure out what was going on, assistant coach Kingsbury approached me, quietly and calmly telling me there had been a tragedy. This was the moment when I learned of the passing of UMPI women's soccer coach, Aaron Marston, who has two daughters on the team. (The daughters were not at the scrimmage at this time.) Through our communication system I told my partner that he needed to come out to the field near me and we needed to have a discussion.
Houlton you should be proud of this group
During these moments of chaos, the athletic director and coaching staff at Presque Isle handled the situation flawlessly. There is no training that can prepare you for a moment like this. The girls’ team from Houlton handled the situation as it unfolded with class, dignity, respect, and sympathy. I was extremely impressed with how they carried themselves and the community of Houlton should be very proud of those young ladies.
"A daughter may outgrow your lap, but she will never outgrow your heart"
Roughly 5-10 minutes after the Presque Isle team was huddled into the locker room to be delivered the tragic news they began to slowly come back out to go home. This. This moment. This is when my heart sank. I did not know coach Marston on a personal level; however, I do know some of the girls that were coming out of that locker room into an entire new world for them. As an official and member of the community I have seen some of these young ladies grow up through sports and dance. A few of these girls have helped our little girl and she looks up to you ladies. To see those girls devastated and lost put me immediately into parent mode. I wanted to be able to cure all of the tears but I knew that the only cure would be time and a hug from their dads. Ask anyone who has been a parent to a girl, you know the look when they need a dad hug.
Adding to the sadness was seeing and knowing that these "kids” were losing a little more of their innocence. Until they are out on their own, even in high school these kids still have some innocence left and you want them to have that for as long as possible. With these girls ranging in age from 14-18, they were working with very little innocence left, and the meter took another hit. Surreal is the only way I can describe these moments. You girls were hurting. You were hurting for your friends, teammates, and yourselves. My partner was looking at you the same way. He is also a father and his kids are friends with some of you. He knows most of you and that you are all good kids. He was hurting just like me. Wishing there was something we could say or do, but knowing that's just not possible. The sting will last for a long time.
"To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die" Thomas Campbell
Better days are ahead of you I promise. Just know that no matter what your emotions are that you are feeling in the coming days, weeks, and months, is okay. Be open and talk with anyone about your emotions and what you are feeling. Trust me, as a parent, this will help you now and down the road. I hope that this piece is a part of that hug that I felt you needed on Wednesday evening.
Difficult situations don't build character, they reveal character
Mr. White, coach Michaud, and coach Kingsbury, you did a great job handling the events as they unfolded. MSAD #1 should be grateful and proud of how you handled the entire situation.
Girls, we've got you
To the girls on the team, hang in there. Look around you and know that you have an entire community and county behind you. We are all here to support you. We know it's going to be difficult. You keep being you and keep being kids. Let us handle the adult stuff.