More than three decades later, Deb Loveless was able to finish what she had started — generationally speaking.

The longtime Oxford Hills cheering coach made this season her last after 35 years leading the Vikings program.

Oxford Hills cheering coach Deb Loveless. Brewster Burns photo

“It was just time. You know, after a while, it’s just time to go,” Loveless said. “(Assistant coach Jess) Brooks has been here with me, and she’ll carry it on, and she’ll be fine. And I have grandchildren to watch, so I’ll be driving around, traveling around watching them.”

Loveless said she knew at the beginning of the season that it would be her last, “before any of this.”

The “this” Loveless speaks of was her memorable final season. The Vikings swept the KVAC, Class A North and Class A state championships, and capped off the year with a fifth-place finish in Division 1 at the New England championships.

At the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference championship competition, Loveless revealed to the team her plan to retire after the season.


The announcement held special meaning to some of the team’s seniors, including Maddie Striegel.

Striegel, speaking to Loveless during a recent roundtable interview, said: “At KVACs you said, ‘You know Maddy, your mom was my first team I coached, and you’re going to be my last.'”

Loveless’ retirement helped fuel the Vikings during championship season.

“Not only it being our seniors’ last year, it also being Coach Love’s last year, we wanted to go out huge,” Striegel said. “So it was a pretty big goal of ours to win states.”

Striegel, whose mother Angela was on Loveless’ first team, was joined by classmate Lizzy Hallee as second-generation cheerleaders under Loveless. Hallee’s mother, Kathy, was also on Loveless’ first team.

The Vikings’ latest state title was their fourth under Loveless, but their first since 2000, when Oxford Hills won its third championship in four years (also winning in 1997 and 1999).


She said this year’s team was among her most special.

“They have a lot of heart. They work together. They’re friends. They were very supportive of each other. If something didn’t go right, there wasn’t any blame going on. They just figured out how to get it done. No grudges. No ill feelings,” Loveless said. “If one day was bad, then the next day they would come in, figure it out, work it out, and make sure that it would keep working.”

The Vikings’ mindset also impressed Loveless. They worked already knowing that she was going to tell them to practice their routine not until it wasn’t wrong, “but practice it till they got it right — all the time. And they would keep practicing and practicing,” Loveless said. “Other teams, after a while, would get bored with that and not do it, but this team would just keep going over and over.

“… Just always learning, always getting it better, and always wanting to learn. And always wanting their teammates to get better. Not thinking of themselves, but thinking of the whole team as a whole of their school, of their community, of everyone. Which makes a very special group of kids.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: