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Sickels named Athletic Director of the Year

Sports

Sickels named Athletic Director of the Year

Freeport head man also gets State Award of Merit

Athletic directors salivate at the opportunity to head up to the Samoset Resort for their annual convention each spring.

But for longtime Freeport athletic administrator Craig Sickels, this year's event proved to be much more than just an opportunity to catch up with old friends. This time he took home some pretty impressive hardware at the Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrators' Association's annual awards dinner.

Sickels received the State Award of Merit and capped the evening by being named the Bob Lahey Maine Athletic Administrator of the Year.

"It was a great night," said Sickels, now in his 15th year as Freeport AD.

Sickels, who was approaching Susan Lucci territory with seven previous nominations, had an inclination that something was afoot when he saw Yarmouth athletic administrator Susan Robbins sitting at the head table.

"I knew (Susan) was making a presentation," Sickels said. "After I got the (Award of Merit) I thought there's no way I'll get both. Then, Sue got up and I thought maybe Ted Welch of York was going to get it. By her third sentence in, I knew it was me. I was taken aback."

Robbins was happy to make the presentation.

"Craig is a fantastic athletic director and an even better person," she said. "I can't think of a more deserving candidate. I work with Craig very closely being neighbors and he is the consummate professional and the very best advocate for the students he serves."

Sickels is a graduate of Mt. Blue High School, where he played football, basketball and baseball. His athleticism came naturally. His father, Pete, who passed away last year, is a member of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. His mother, Jean, is in the Maine State Field Hockey Hall of Fame and, along with his sister, has been inducted into the University of New Hampshire Hall of Fame.

Sickels got his bachelor's degree from Springfield College and his master's in Sports Administration from Biscayne College in Florida. After working at Buckfield High School for 10 years (he coached the Bucks' boys' basketball team to a Class D championship in 1992), Sickels came to Freeport in 1994.

In addition to serving as the school's AD, Sickels coached the boys' basketball squad for 12 years and was named Forecaster Coach of the Year in 2008 after leading the Falcons to the regional final for the first time in 38 seasons.

When Sickels started in Freeport, he was a half-time physical education teacher and a part-time AD and oversaw 38 combined middle and high school teams (now the number is over 60).

Sickels, who recently stepped down from the basketball position, has also served as Freeport's assistant principal, on the Faculty Council, Pupil Services Team, Curriculum Council, and is a basketball liaison, has served on the Maine Principals' Association's lacrosse committee and is an accomplished schedule maker.

Sickels was previously given the MIAAA Administrators' Special Achievement Award.

The biggest highlight of Sickels' night came after he was named AD of the Year, when he saw that his wife, Dona, and several co-workers had made the trip.

"That was pretty special," he said. "Being able to share it."

Sickels lives in Durham. He is the father of two sons, Matt and Orion.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at mhoffer@theforecaster.net