WOOD RIVER JCT. — Chariho’s long-awaited field house is on its way to being built, with nearly half the money already raised by the Maddie Potts Foundation.
Maddie, the captain of the girls soccer team, collapsed on the field during a game on Sept. 24, 2017, and later died. Her parents, Stephanie and Dan Potts, started a charitable foundation in Maddie’s name, and its most ambitious project so far has been raising money for a new field house.
John Dobson of the Chariho Sports Boosters, a group of coaches, parents, and other volunteers that raises money for athletics through a concession stand, said the boosters had been trying to raise the funds for a field house for several years.
“The boosters have been trying to build a new concession stand since well before I joined, and the current concession stand at the football field is basically just a garden shed,” he said. “There’s a need for bathrooms with actual running water, bathroom facilities, especially at football games, soccer games, lacrosse games. Right now, we’re using porta potties, so I think it’s vitally important for the school for sanitation and just overall comfort of the spectators.”
The field house is expected to cost up to $500,000. The foundation has raised about $125,000 over the past year and recently received a large contribution from an unnamed corporation.
“We have also been awarded a $50,000 grant by a national sportswear company,” Potts added. “We are awaiting finalization of this, therefore I am not at liberty to reveal the donor, yet. So in total, we have close to $200,000 currently. We will likely need between $350,000 and $500,000.”
Potts said the family wanted to give back to the Chariho athletics community and the people who had supported their daughter through her noteworthy athletic career.
“Soon after Maddie died, we knew we needed to find ways to give back to athletics, to the people that supported Maddie over the years, and helped her become the young lady that everyone has read about or was fortunate to have known,” she said.
The original goal of the foundation was to build a large indoor training facility, but that campaign will take several years.
“Our initial goal of the Maddie Potts Indoor Track and Practice Facility proved to be a multimillion-dollar venture, plus there is not enough space on or near the Chariho campus currently. This is still our ultimate goal and will be years in the making,” Potts said.
In the meantime, the family wanted to do something that would be achievable in a couple of years, so the foundation launched the Maddie Potts Memorial Field House campaign.
“We have since formed a well-rounded building committee, including parents, a track coach, an engineer, our athletic director [Mike Shiels], a school committee member and a male and female student athlete,” Potts said. “ We want this to be as inclusive as Maddie herself was. This isn’t just based on soccer needs. This will be for all sports that utilize the stadium and surrounding fields for their home games, including football, baseball, field hockey, track, cross country and lacrosse.”
In addition to a concession stand, running water and indoor restrooms, the new field house will have a locker room and an athletic training room.
Dobson said the foundation’s adoption of the field house project had kick-started the campaign.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “We’ve had a building fund and we’ve always talked about doing a new concession stand. It didn’t look like it was going to happen in my lifetime with the limited funds that we had, and when Stephanie came to us and said she had all these funds and wanted to do something in Maddie’s name, it was a perfect pairing.”
Because the field house would be built on Chariho property, the project must be approved by the three Chariho towns. The proposal will be presented at the Chariho public budget hearing on March 5.
The field house will be entirely funded by the Maddie Potts Foundation and therefore will not require any taxpayer contributions.
Potts said her goal was to break ground on the field house in April 2020.
“Maddie would be turning 20 years old on April 11, 2020,” she said. “This is our goal to break ground … Under the circumstances, I can’t think of a better present to give to her, and those that have supported her, on her 20th birthday.”
Information on the Maddie Potts Foundation and the field house campaign can be found at www.maddiepottsfoundation.org.