Sarah Williams Credit: Contributed

HODGDON, Maine — Much of the Hodgdon area was already aware of the fact that first-grade teacher and high school softball coach Sarah Williams was a valued member of the community.

Now, Williams has the award to back it up.

U.S. Cellular officials on Tuesday, Nov. 20, announced Williams as the third-place finalist in its Most Valuable Coach contest.

“It’s really been a very humbling experience,” Williams said Wednesday. “I never imagined myself in a position like this, and the way everyone came together to support Hodgdon really says a lot about who we are as a community. We have certainly put Hodgdon on the map, showed how we support one another here, and most importantly, created a positive experience and outcome for the students.”

U.S. Cellular’s Most Valuable Coach program honors current coaches of K-12 school-affiliated sports teams who connect to the good in people by inspiring their players through true leadership and community involvement.

“U.S. Cellular congratulates and commends these coaches for their influential work in their athletes’ lives, schools and communities,” said Matt Kasper, director of sales at U.S. Cellular in New England. “As a company that strives to be a part of our local communities, we are honored to celebrate and recognize our very own Coach Sarah Williams, as well as Chris Metzger and Matt Chance for their commitment.”

The support from the Hodgdon area students and residents continues to amaze Williams.

“The community was the driving force behind the outcome of the MVC contest,” she said. “We all worked together to promote the contest and cast our daily votes, all for the good of the Hodgdon school district. Not only did the community promote the contest within our greater area, but many people reached out to family and friends across the nation and even Canada to help stack the votes.”

U.S. Cellular will present the school’s athletic program a $10,000 check on Williams’ behalf in honor of her coming in third. That amount will be added to the $5,000 she received for the school from the company for making the top 15.

Chris Metzger of Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines, North Carolina, was the grand prize winner. He received a $50,000 donation for his school and will be awarded with a Samsung tech prize package, valued at $30,000, for Pinecrest High School. Matt Chance of Bowling Green R1 High School in Bowling Green, Missouri, placed second and received $20,000.

“Many people have been asking how we will use the now $15,000 we have won,” Williams said. “I have spoken to Wayne [Quint, athletic director] and the other coaches in our department, and we have agreed that we would like to steer clear of materialistic use of the funds for the most part, and put it back into our youth and feeder programs as needed, as well as fund middle school and high school athletes wishing to attend camps and clinics in their off season.”

“We are very proud of Coach Sarah Williams and think she is No. 1 even if she did come in third in the nationwide voting,” Superintendent Scott Richardson said. “We are very thankful for the support Sarah and SAD 70 received in the recent vote. The community pulled together and really rallied to bring out the vote. The monies will be utilized by the Athletic Department to promote and improve the sports programs here at school especially in developing young athletes.”

U.S. Cellular’s Most Valuable Coach contest began Aug. 21 and gave people the opportunity to nominate, vote and honor current coaches of K-12 school-affiliated sports teams. A panel of judges including Green Bay Packers wide receiver, Randall Cobb, and WNBA All-Star, Maya Moore, helped determine the winning coaches. Along with online voting, the judging panel evaluated the Final 15 coaches based on the positive impact they have on their teams, school and city, as well as their leadership qualities.

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