ella kellogg soccer 2019

Ella Kellogg, left, of Oxford Hills competes for the ball against Jenna Boucher of Leavitt during a 2019 soccer match. Kellogg is a team captain for the COVID-19 restricted 2020 fall season. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

PARIS — All but one school board director approved a plan committing to a fall athletic season after parents, students and coaches addressed them at Monday night’s meeting and Athletic Director Kevin Ryan presented a plan that prioritizes safety protocols and management. Stacia Cordwell of Oxford cast the lone vote against fall sports.

Football teams will play a reduced roster, seven on seven. Field hockey, girls’ and boys’ soccer, golf and cross country will also take place. SAD 17 athletes will only play against teams from communities in close proximity, like Poland, and in western Maine, like Fryeburg Academy.

At the start of Zoom meeting, several directors were opposed to student sports taking place. But the rigorous work that Ryan and district coaches put into planning how to monitor, manage and execute safety procedures that, in Ryan’s words, exceeded Maine Department of Health and Maine Principals’ Association guidelines swayed their positions towards approval.

“At the start of this meeting, I meant to vote against this,” said Lewis Williams of Hebron. “But I believe the kids have done what they’ve been told and they will work to maintain it. I am concerned about the others they will interact with.”

Kristin Roy of Otisfield also changed her mind, although she stressed that she was deeply concerned that exposure to athletes, referees and coaches from other communities meant increased exposure to Oxford Hills residents.

“I have reluctantly changed my mind,” she said. “Many of our students are being raised by their grandparents who are vulnerable. The only stable family those students have are at risk.”


Dr. Kate Herlihy, a pediatrician with Western Maine Health who has consulted and advised SAD 17 administrators throughout the pandemic spoke in support of the plan she helped develop.

“There has been a tremendous amount of work done for this plan,” Herlihy told directors. “The superintendent, athletic trainers, school nurses and coaches have all come together and put safety at the very top. Oxford Hills has done extremely well throughout COVID-19. It is important for students to be able to play.”

Outdoor gatherings are limited to 100 people under current Maine Center for Disease Control mandates. Ryan estimated that after counting athletes, team staff and referees that about 30 spectators would be allowed on the sidelines. That number spurred some debate, as many districts in Maine have already stated that spectators would not be allowed to watch games.

Bob Jewell of Paris wanted to amend the proposal to disallow spectators. He also said that students competing for their school should not be allowed to play on travel team leagues that increased their exposure in less secure playing environments.

“How do you decide who can come?” He asked. “It will be a hard decision on who is allowed tickets.”

A vote on Jewell’s amendments were voted down by a vote of 16 against and five for. Barry Patrie of of Waterford at first spoke in favor of the two changes but then voted against them after hearing more from Ryan.


“We need to trust our administrators and athletics department,” Patrie said before voting against the amendments. “We are not here to micromanage them.”

Colin Edwards, a senior offensive lineman on Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School’s football team will not be able to play his final season on a reduced roster. But he attended the meeting to speak on behalf of his team.

“As an offensive lineman, my position will not be on the field,” Edward said. “But 60% of our guys can play on a seven-on-seven team. I want them to be able to play.”

Ella Kellogg, a senior and captain of the girls’ soccer team went through a range of emotions as she spoke about the importance of the sport to her.

“I feel empty thinking I won’t be able to play soccer,” she told directors as she struggled to continue and had to stop to fight tears. She then added, “I don’t know if I can do this.”

After a moment she started over, her tone changing from sadness to steely determination.


“It is so important,” she implored. “We will do anything to play. Please let us play.”

Other speakers included parents from Paris and Bethel with kids at Oxford Hills. Senior cross-country teammates Kaylynn Johnson of Otisfield and Jade Martel-Bixby of West Paris talked about the importance of competition to all athletes and its part in helping them test their abilities, develop work ethics and just escape from other pressures and set their own goals.

“Our team is our family,” they stated jointly.

After directors voted to proceed with fall sports, a hearty round of applause came through on Zoom as meeting attendees expressed their gratitude and relief.

Comments are not available on this story.