In the past, the only time you’d see Mattanawcook Academy student-athletes kicking balls is on the football field.
Now, the Lincoln school has officially added the European style of football, as the local school board approved boys and girls soccer as varsity sports, starting in the fall of 2009.
The interest in the game is blossoming already, as more than 60 students are involved with the Lynx’s club programs, which have been around for the last two years.
“The numbers this year suggest we’ll also have boys and girls JV teams as well,” said Mattanawcook athletic administrator Dean Libbey.
The Lynx will play in the Eastern Maine Class B ranks, against foes such as Mount Desert Island, Bucksport, Presque Isle, Ellsworth and Foxcroft Academy.
In order to make the program possible, the students themselves had to participate in fundraisers to pay for equipment such as balls, nets, uniforms and shinguards while also raising enough to pay officials.
“They raised all the money that was necessary. I couldn’t tell you exactly a figure,” Libbey said.
Stephanie Thurlow is coaching the girls club team and David Ham the boys squad.
Both teams have been playing against junior varsity opponents.
The program got its jumpstart from local parents who wanted their children to participate in sports.
Besides football, MA’s other fall sports include field hockey, cross country and cheerleading, while cross country had been the only other option for boys prior to the soccer program’s arrival.
“The kids took an interest in soccer and that’s how it got going,” said Libbey. “There were a large number of kids who had parents who wanted kids on some athletic [team].”
He added that the school board voted unanimously to accept the programs’ move to varsity status.
Libbey doesn’t think the addition of soccer will affect participation in any of the school’s other fall sports, at least not in the near future.
“It’s going to take a couple years anyway to see if [there are] any effects in participation moving from one sport to another or just locking into soccer,” he explained. “I think its too early to tell that.”
With another athletic program for students to choose from, participation in athletics should boom at Mattanawcook.
“We’ve got some 185 students that are involved in sports,” said Libbey. “Just about 50 percent of our student body is involved in some form of athletic program which I think is great.”
Track sites staying put
This decade, the state Class A and B indoor track and field championships have rotated between the University of Southern Maine in Gorham and Lewiston’s Bates College.
For the foreseeable future, those sites will be fixed.
The Maine Principals’ Association indoor track and field committee agreed at its recent meeting that the Class A state meet will remain at USM and Class B at Bates, based on spectator seating, parking, and the number of qualified athletes.
The committee also agreed to provide coaches seating on the infield at the long and triple jumps, high jump, pole vault and shot put.