OTISFIELD — Students attending an assembly during Otisfield Community School’s fall book fair Nov. 3 gave a raucous welcome to former student Stephanie McCoy Mulligan, who brought her husband, former New England Patriot tight end Matthew Mulligan, to read his 2022 children’s book “Just a Kid from Maine.”

McCoy Mulligan founded McSea Books in 2019, at first as a self-publishing venture for her rhyming picture book, “How to Catch a Keeper.”

By the time she was ready to release her second book, “How to Tap a Maple,” McSea Books was an established children’s publisher. Currently the company lists 17 contributing authors, including the Mulligans, and 13 illustrators. The couple collaborated to write Just a Kid from Maine.

During their visit to Otisfield, Mulligan talked to the kids about the importance of encouragement and hard work, which he relied on as a student athlete determined to play in the National Football League. Football was a sport he had never even played until he went to college and joined the University of Maine Orono Black Bears team.

Stephanie Mulligan, left, and her husband, Matt, visited Otisfield Community School on Nov. 3. The former New England Patriot tight end read his book “Just a Kid from Maine” to students during the school’s book fair week. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

“I made it, because of encouragement,” he stated. “It is the key to success. And if you don’t succeed the first time? You try, and try, again.

“I was cut from [football] teams 11 times. And I went back each time. Being cut was a setback for me, not a failure.”


He added that it is easier for anyone to keep working and trying to reach their goals with encouragement: “Don’t ever quit,” he said. “It’s okay to ask for help. Never be afraid to ask for help. It will never be over if you’re willing to work hard.”

Mulligan also shared his very first meeting with former New England quarterback Tom Brady, who immediately greeted him on his first day at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro to thank him for being on the team.

“He said, ‘hey Matt, I’m glad to have you. We are so excited for you to be here. I’m excited to see what you can do for our football team.’

“What he [Brady] did, the first day there was a new player he knew was going to be on his team, he said, ‘I’m going to know his name, and I’m going to encourage him.'”

Mulligan’s rally in Otisfield was an interactive one, with a short obstacle course and scrimmage exercise set up in the gymnasium and a call for three volunteers to participate while the rest of the school encouraged them from start to finish.

The student volunteers, Dylan Dyer, Mia Harps and Carter Boyce, each suited up in Mulligan’s number 88 Patriots jersey, pads and helmet. Mulligan guided each one through the course and assisted as they attempted to throw touchdown passes.


The amount of encouragement provided by the young audience of about 100 was close to deafening.

Encouragement is a recurring theme in both Mulligans’ careers and their family.

As commencement speaker at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School’s 2023 graduation last June, McCoy Mulligan recalled the encouragement she got from her family, friends and Oxford Hills educators from a very young age.  Without the ongoing support that continued into her adulthood, she could not imagine that the poem she wrote in high school, How to Catch a Keeper, would someday make her an author and launch her career as a publisher and entrepreneur.

The Mulligans work as a team, traveling to area schools promoting McSea Books’ mission to publish stories that provide positive lessons to children and young readers. Without encouraging each other, neither may have ever published any books.

“I never thought about it at any point,” he admitted to the Advertiser Democrat. “[But] I always say what I wanted to teach the reader was to have pride in who you are and where you come from.

Former Patriots tight end Matt Mulligan signs a football for Carter Boyce during a rally and book reading at Otisfield Community School on Nov. 3. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

“My wife is a very passionate person and when she expressed this was something she wanted to do, I wanted to support her fully.”


McCoy Mulligan added that they are gratified by the response Just a Kid from Maine has received, and not just from children.

“Although this is a considered a picture book with comic book style art – the message can be encouraging for ALL ages,” she wrote in an email statement. “We even have folks from older generations purchasing our book because they have followed Matt’s journey all along. For school visits – the message of encouragement doesn’t differ according to age group.”

Among the reactions of Otisfield students following the Mulligans’ rally and reading:

“Matt encouraged me to try out for show choir!” 

“Now I know I can do it because I am just a kid from Maine!”

“It was the best assembly the school has ever had, and meeting Matt will be the highlight of my 6th grade year!”

Mulligan’s rally of encouragement ended on a celebratory, and jubilant note. He signed footballs for the three student who made their best effort to throw touchdown passes. Then he and McCoy Mulligan joined the students for a group photo with cheers and poses to show their strength echoing through the school gymnasium.

Otisfield Community School welcomed two children’s book writers and publishers during their book fair earlier this month, former student Stephanie Mulligan and her husband Matt, a former tight end who played with the New England Patriots. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

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