FARMINGTON – At Kemp Field on Thursday evening, shrieks rang out, mixed with laughter.

Parents sat in lawn chairs shielding their eyes, looking out at the clusters of men and boys huddled under goal posts in the distance. Boys ran to and fro, balls popped into the air, and down again.

Robert Lake stood in a concession stand looking out, a faint smile on his face.

Mt. Blue Area Youth Football was finally home.

Independent of both school districts and local government and operating solely on donations and season fees, the club has served SAD 9 kids for years.

They’ve never had a field to call their own.

They’d play and practice wherever they could, Lake, the club’s treasurer, said. But after Hippach field was made primarily into a baseball game venue and the countless games and practices began to wear on the Mt. Blue High School field, finding a place to play got harder and harder.

“It was crazy,” said football mom Debbie Matteson, eyes on the field.

In good weather, it was here, there, and everywhere, trying to remember which field which of her two boys was supposed to be playing on, said Bethany Storer, of Chesterville.

In bad weather, it was always a gamble whether or not the owners of the allotted field would let them play.

In either 1999 or 2000, the club got a break, in the form of the Kemp family and their lower field.

Mark Kemp, of Kemp Enterprises, Inc., remembers when he learned of the club’s need for a field.

“I’ve got a piece of land if you’re interested,” Kemp remembers saying. His family donated their lower field to the club.

But finding a location was just the first of many hurdles.

The land wasn’t useable immediately, Club President Steve Haley said. He and Vice President Tim Burnell tried roto tilling it to make grass grow, but the grass all died.

Then they were told the Army Corps of Engineers could help them out. Sept. 11, 2001, changed all that.

Then, two years ago, Kevin Vining, of E.L. Vining and Son, came to the rescue. The work he did must have been worth $100,000, Lake said.

Vining moved thousands of yards of loam onto the field, creating two regulation football fields out of what used to be a cow pasture. He built a road leading out to the fields. He excavated a hole for the outhouse waste, donated the tank. He built a parking lot.

And he did it all for free.

Coming off the field from coaching Thursday evening, Vining smiled, looking embarrassed, and said anything to do with helping kids was a good cause. “Everyone else has given so much, we just want to do our part,” he said of his company.

This is the first year both fields are ready for players. Parents and coaches may have been basking in the newfound freedom and enjoying the sunshine, but the players themselves had a different perspective.

“It’s great,” said Robert Matteson, 9, squinting as he looked back at the field. “It’s better,” he said.

But it wasn’t the field that had his attention, it was the game itself. “It’s fun,” he said. Then a grin spread slowly across his face. “You get to tackle people,” he said, and turned toward home.


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