Craig Sickels. File photo.

Craig Sickels, the longtime athletic director at Freeport High, announced earlier this week that he is retiring, effective June 30.

“Since 1968, I am one of only two people lucky enough to be the athletic director for Freeport High School and I am grateful to have spent 29 years in such a special and supportive school system,” said Sickels, in a letter to his coaches.

Sickels, a three-sport athlete (football, basketball, baseball) at Mt. Blue High in Farmington, who went on to play varsity lacrosse at Springfield College in Massachusetts, was also a longtime boys’ basketball coach, leading Buckfield to a state title in 1992 before spending several seasons coaching the Falcons.

Sickels arrived as the athletic director in Freeport in 1994, replacing Dick Edgecomb, when the school competed exclusively in Class C. The Falcons now compete in Class B in most sports and are even classified in Class A in a couple. Freeport offered 24 teams back in 1994 and now offers 43.

The Falcons’ athletic program has returned to prominence in recent years, going deep in the postseason in just about every sport. A big reason for that has been the addition of the Joan Benoit Samuelson Track and Field complex.

In the fall of 1994, Sickels recalled there were 10 state championship banners, two individual championship banners and seven conference/regional championship banners hanging on the gym wall.

Today, there are 45 state championship banners, 11 individual banners (representing 66 champions), 23 conference/regional banners (representing 71 teams), one New England individual championship banner and 21 Sportsmanship banners from the Maine Principals’ Association.

“I am incredibly proud of all that has been accomplished over the years,” said Sickels, who was named the Maine Interscholastic Athletic Administrators’ AD of the Year in 2009. “Our athletic facilities are state of the art and are the envy of many. I have always believed that there is more to be learned from athletics then athletics alone. Winning isn’t the end-all-be-all, but boy, when it all comes together, it sure is rewarding and fun to see the smiling faces of the student-athletes and coaches as you celebrate while coming off the playing surface. The same is true of the parents and spectators as they hug and high five each other in the bleachers.

“I am excited for the future of Freeport’s athletic programs under new guidance and direction. Freeport High School has become a highly regarded and respected destination. I believe the quality and quantity of potential applicants will be very intriguing and the student-athletes and coaches will be the beneficiaries.”

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