Coach Keyes, I Want to Thank You for Taking a Stand for These Kids - Granite Grok

Coach Keyes, I Want to Thank You for Taking a Stand for These Kids

Group of female track athletes on starting blocks

Dear Coach Keyes,

I saw your story on ReBuildNH and Granite Grok.  I want to thank you for taking the stand you did and wish you were not alone.  Maybe you will inspire a movement.

We’d like to thank Vicky Gulla for this op-ed. If you have an Op-Ed or Letter
you want us to consider please submit it to Skip@GraniteGrok or

I am a stay-at-home mom of an 8-year-old and a 3-year-old. Sadly, homeschooling, as I will never mask my children and all the schools in Cheshire County have gone full mask madness.

I myself became terribly sick last spring and summer with mask-induced chronic bacterial pneumonia. Every time I thought I had recovered, I’d have to go shopping and wear a mask. Each time, my cough would roar back. I had x-rays, a cardiology referral for heart palpitations, 2 rounds of medications including 2 varieties of antibiotics, oral steroids, an albuterol inhaler, and 3 months of daily allergy meds.

My lungs, a year later, are still so sensitive that when I was outside speaking in an elevated voice for a few minutes, my lungs went back to needing the inhaler, and my body was completely exhausted for days and heart palpitations returned.  Mask injuries are no joke.

I was a student-athlete and ran some slow 800s and two miles in my day. But not many girls ran the two-mile so I scored points.

I don’t like the heat so I was one of the only Spring track athletes who got slower as the season went on. Some of those meets over in your hot section of the state were brutal to me.  I cannot imagine doing that with covered airways.

I’ve read all the mask studies and know they do nothing except make people sick.

I wasn’t much of a runner, but was the cornerstone of the ConVal Ski Team for many years, skiing up and scoring points starting in 6th grade. My thing is ski racing. That is my love.

I helped coach at Sunapee during college breaks and raced at McGill in Quebec, where I was secretary of our self-funded, independent team.

I coached 2 years full-time at Wachusett when I lived in Boston, before moving into officiating.

I was a Technical Delegate in NH for 17 years, and also a few in VT.  The TD is the representative for the United States Ski Association at the race and is responsible for all the rules being upheld, scoring, and course safety. The TD chairs the jury and is the tie-breaking vote.

The TD completes all the paperwork with the Race Administrator and his signature is required for scoring and recording the race with USSA and NHARA.

But the most important role of the TD is safety. If the TD says it isn’t safe and it can’t be cured, there is no race. While this mostly refers to course set, fencing, and conditions, the TD can actually pull an athlete from the race if their ability or condition is not at the level where it would be safe to compete.

I took a 3-season break from TDing when I had thyroid cancer during my pregnancy and then because the commitment with 2 little ones and a traveling husband were too much. I was geared up to officiate again this year and started signing up for licensing and classes when I read the insane mask rules.

Athletes weren’t required to mask during the actual race, but everywhere else. All workers and spectators would also be required to mask at all times. I could not and would not be the official enforcing that insane rule.

Healthy people do not spread coronavirus, outdoor spread does not happen, and kids younger than 13 are not vectors of the disease.

Our youth racing age range is 6 through college and some masters, too. Meanwhile, except for doctor appointments, I haven’t worn a mask since August, nor will I. I physically can not cover my airway without my lungs constricting and tickling into a cough.

I can not be a part of a system that could cause this same lung damage to a child.  Sadly, the coaches, officials, bureaucrats, teachers, parents, and the administrators who will do that are legion.

Until you came along, Coach Keyes, I had been outraged and sickened that no adults were standing up for these kids.  And here you are speaking up loudly.  You deserve the Coach of the Year Award.


Thank you,
Vicky Gulla
Spofford, NH