Chariho community mourns death of girls’ soccer captain Maddie Potts

Chariho community mourns death of girls’ soccer captain Maddie Potts


WOOD RIVER JCT. — The Chariho community is mourning the sudden death of senior Maddie Potts, captain of the girls’ soccer team, who collapsed on the field during a game Saturday night and was later pronounced dead at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence.

Maddie is the daughter of Dan Potts, a science teacher at Chariho Middle School.

Reached Sunday, a shaken Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci said he had left the hospital Saturday night believing that Potts would recover and found out early Sunday morning that she had passed away, the victim of a brain aneurysm.

“I cannot believe it,” he said. “We left the hospital at about 11:30, and I left thinking she was going to make it.”

Chariho was playing Middletown when the tragedy occurred. Ricci said Potts was taking a penalty kick when she suddenly went down.

“She was kicking a penalty kick, and she just collapsed,” he said. “Everything that could be done for her on the field was done. There was a parent who was a doctor who resuscitated her.”

The girls’ soccer team held an emergency meeting on Sunday morning, and members of the boys’ team joined them as a gesture of support. Chariho Director of Administration Susan Rogers contacted members of the School Committee Sunday morning to tell them the news.

“She was always at School Committee meetings, getting awards,” committee member Catherine Giusti said. “She was a wonderful kid. What a tragic loss for the parents and for the community.”

Potts, 17, was a resident of Richmond and played on both the soccer and lacrosse teams.

“She was the heart of both teams, always enthusiastic, a great leader, had an amazing work ethic and always was a phenomenal teammate,” said Brittany Godbout, head coach of the girls’ soccer team. “All of the girls, from seniors to freshmen, looked up to her and idolized her. She will be impossible to replace, but we will utilize the energy and spirit and work ethic that she brought every day to practice and games throughout the rest of our season.”

Mike Shiels, Chariho’s athletic director, echoed those sentiments.

“In the 23 years that I have been involved in Chariho High School sports, Maddie Potts was the best of the best and would be my all-time favorite student athlete. She was the toughest female athlete that I had ever seen play on the field,” Shiels said. “She had an enormous, positive and encouraging personality that made her such a great role model for the younger players. She always helped the lesser-skilled players at practice and encouraged them in the games.

“The positive effect that she had on her coaches and teammates could never be measured. It never mattered to her who scored the goals or got the assists or what position she played, she just wanted the team to be successful. That was Maddie Potts.”

Keith Kimberlin, sports editor at The Westerly Sun, said he was stunned to hear of Potts’ passing.

“I knew her, and I’m shocked,” he said. “I’ve interviewed her. She always had a smile on her face. She was always very outgoing and encouraging of her teammates. It’s a tremendous loss for the Chariho community.”

Ricci said counseling would be available to students and staff in the middle and high schools beginning Monday morning.

“We’ll have counseling services for any student or staff member who needs it in both the high school and middle school,” he said. “Flags will be at half-staff throughout the district starting tomorrow [Monday] morning. Teachers will read a message to all the kids about what occurred.”

The Middletown soccer team has offered its support to Chariho, and Ricci said he had also heard from Westerly Superintendent Mark Garceau.

“The Middletown team has reached out, ‘What can we do? How can we support the girls?’” Ricci said. “I’ve heard from Dr. Garceau in Westerly. There’s been an outpouring of support. She was a tremendous athlete and a compassionate person. She’s kind of a legend around here.”

Late Sunday, the Chariho Youth Soccer Association announced on its Facebook page that a candelight vigil to honor Maddie’s memory will be held Monday night at the Chariho High School soccer fields at 7 p.m. Organizers are asking participants to be there by 6:30 p.m. and to bring a candle.


Statement by Chariho Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci

“It’s with great sadness that we announce the passing of Chariho High School senior Maddie Potts. Maddie’s sudden passing is a tragic loss to our school community. Maddie collapsed on the field during a soccer game on Saturday night, was supported by a responsive team of health professionals and treated at South County and Hasbro. Her passing was unrelated to the game. Maddie represented the very best of our school as an artist, an athlete, a classmate, a teammate and a friend. Counselors are available in the library for students who need support and in the Maker Space for faculty and staff who need support. We all grieve differently, but we encourage you to remember Maddie as a bright light in Chariho, and share stories that speak to the meaningful impact she had on our community. We will work together with students to pay tribute to her life and the positive presence she was in our school.”

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