As one of the veteran athletic administrators in the state of Maine, Craig Sickels had earned a reputation as one of the finest in the state.

Now, Sickels is earning kudos on an even higher level.

Next month, Sickels, along with seven other administrators from around the country, will be given a citation from the National Federation of State High School Associations at the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators’ Association’s national conference in Orlando, Fla.

The citation is presented to individuals associated with categories of professionals who have made significant contributions to the NFHS and/or other national organizations, which have impacted high school activities.

Among the factors which may be considered are:

* Individual has a long-standing and distinguished record of involvement with high school activities programs at the local and state levels.

* Individual is recognized as among the best in their profession by their colleagues.

“It speaks to longevity,” Sickels said, modestly. “The turnover in this profession is quite high.”

Sickels is the second-longest serving administrator in the Western Maine Conference, behind only Ted Welch at York. He joins fellow Mainers Bob Lahey, Marty Ryan, Dwight Hunter, Gerry Durgin, Don Wilson, Jim Murphy, Jeff Benson and most recently, Cheverus’ Gary Hoyt (2009), as national award recipients.

“It’s an honor to be included with past winners,” Sickels said. “I’m in good company. I think Maine does things right. It’s a reflection on Freeport High coaches and kids and staff.”

“Craig is most deserving as a longtime athletic director and leader in Maine Interscholastic Athletics,” said Yarmouth athletic administrator Susan Robbins. “What impresses me most about Craig’s accomplishments is his constant regard for the student-athlete. As the president of the MIAAA this year, his theme is ‘There is more to be learned from athletics than athletics itself,’ stressing the importance of educational-based athletics. Craig has been a member of the Western Maine Conference for many years and represents the historical perspective in our league. Craig has been a wonderful colleague and friend and I am very proud excited to watch him receive this prestigious award.”

Sickels, 51, has been an athletic administrator for 27 years, including at Freeport since 1994. He’s also served time as the high school’s assistant principal and principal. He coached the boys’ basketball team for 12 seasons, was named The Forecaster’s Coach of the Year in 2008 and won a Class D boys’ hoops title at Buckfield in 1992.

Sickels grew up in Farmington the son of teachers and accomplished athletes. His father is a member of the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame. His mother 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 played football, basketball and baseball at Mt. Blue High School. After graduating from Springfield College, he got his Masters degree in sports administration at Biscayne College in Miami.

“Both my parents were in the classroom 30 to 35 years and I wanted to be connected to education, but I decided to get my Masters as an administrative option,” Sickels said.

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 team. There are now 57.

“The position has changed in my 17 years,” Sickels said. “The changes have kept it new and provided new challenges.”

Sickels is currently the president of the Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrators’ Association and is in his second stint on the MIAAA Board of Directors. He also served as president of the Western Maine Conference and East-West Athletic Conference, as well as the Maine Principals Association’s Chair of the Lacrosse Committee.

Sickels was the MIAAA Athletic Administrator of the year in 2009 and won an NIAAA State Award of Merit.

Sickels lives in Durham with wife Dona and is the father of two boys.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]

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Longtime Freeport athletic director Craig Sickels will earn national honors next month.