They say as you get older,  you start to lose friends, you lose routines, you lose voices. Last week, I lost a dear friend and her voice.

The Topsham Dome collapsed last Thursday night, sometime in the dark January wintry snow/rain. Global warming and new winters of ice age cold were unkind to her and the molten, wet tons of snow and rain up on her roof split her asunder, ungracefully.

I was not there that night. I slept fitfully and at first light, I heard she was gone.

I ran the Dome for many of her 23 years, first with Coastal Soccer Club, then Seacoast Sports Club. So many winters, I slept in the clubhouse next to her, when the most dangerous storms were upon her. I would set my alarm for every hour, shovel a path to the revolving doors, go in and make sure her frame was still intact. If she was listing one way or the other, I would raise the heat or pressure and keep watch till first light to make sure she was out of danger.

One March wet storm, she was cratering down to a bad end. I cut the motors, opened all the doors, and she came down slowly in the storm, like a ship gracing into harbor. All of my best friends came to help. We shoveled like lumberjacks, and four days later, in the March sun and with thoughts of spring, we raised her back up, billowing so hard that our hearts were in our throats. She was reborn to live another season.

Most domes, which are built in Canada, are meant to live 12 to 15 years. Our grand dame lived to 23. In her prime, she could shed blustery January and February snows like a grizzly cresting up over a mountainside.


She was home to so many voices, young and old alike. Soccer games and training. Bowdoin/Bates/Colby/Falmouth ultimate frisbee never played in a better venue. UMaine women’s softball and Madison girls’ softball played games there in spring before their fields were ready. Don Glover’s championship lacrosse teams, Mt. Ararat and Brunswick football and Bowdoin baseball made it their spring training base, as did the current caretaker, Coastal Storm. Brunswick and Mt. Ararat spring track meets. Coastal field hockey, Maine Styx made it their base. Chad Hopkins ran golf clinics during the day and many athletes came to train on their own, from fly fishers to strikers and goalkeepers, sprinters and disc golfers.

The Dome was an integral part of Midcoast sports for 23 years. We thank all her caretakers: Howard Sports, Coastal Soccer Club, Seacoast United, Merrymeeting Soccer Club and Coastal Storm. We have all lost a good friend.

I have woken up in the middle of the night since she came down, listening for the voices. I do hear them, I see all the years of teams playing, coaches and players, parents and dreams. She was home to it all. I am so proud of her that she lasted so long. She was as strong as the hearts of all her boys and girls, men and women, that came to her to play.

If you played in the Dome, my hope is that you left outside the cold, the snow, your phones, emails and headlines of wars and shootings, and once inside you forgot all that, you put on your cleats, bantered with your teammates and played a game that you might have played when you were a child. And you went back out into the January night, ready to take on the week and silently wait for spring. She would like to know that for a few hours, she helped you be a kid again. She would like to know all that.

It was her dream, her reason to stand up tall against Nor’Easter winter skies. She thanks all of you for gracing her.

Jim Wade is a former director of the Topsham Dome.

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