ROCKPORT, Maine — Saying it’s time for a change, Bill Hughes is stepping down after six years as the athletic administrator at Camden Hills Regional High School.
Hughes, 56, submitted his resignation to school officials Friday but will continue in the post until the end of the current school year.
“It’s all very positive,” said Hughes. “I feel very good about the position the Camden Hills athletic program is in right now, and proud to have been a part of it for the last six years.
“But I’m ready for a change. This is totally a personal decision. I’m getting a little bit older and time’s becoming a little more precious.”
Hughes, an Oneonta, N.Y., native who played first base and catcher on the University of Maine baseball team that finished fourth in the 1976 College World Series, has been employed in education for 24 years in SAD 28 and the Five Towns CSD that serve the Camden-Rockport area as well as the former SAD 50 in the Thomaston area.
He returned to the Camden Hills area in 2006 after serving as a teacher, coach and athletic administrator at Thomaston Grammar School.
Since then he has overseen an athletic program that has been arguably one of the most successful in Class B statewide, with the Windjammers winning multiple state and regional championships in such sports as boys basketball, tennis, wrestling and mountain biking.
He also has steered the program through an expansion that has included the addition of ice hockey, lacrosse and football to the school’s interscholastic sports offerings.
Hughes also is proud of the percentage of the Camden Hills student body that participates in interscholastic sports. This spring, for instance, nearly 260 of the school’s 660 students in grades 9-12 are participating on a sports team.
“I feel like I’m going out on top,” said Hughes. “We have one of the highest participation rates as far as the percentage of kids participating in sports, and all our teams are doing well. I feel like the next person will be coming in to a pretty good situation.”
Hughes is just the fourth athletic administrator Camden Hills — or its predecessor, Camden-Rockport High School — has had since SAD 28 formed during the mid-1960s, following Beryl Leach, Earl Sprague and Dave Cook. Hughes got his coaching start at Camden-Rockport under Sprague in 1980.
“I’m very proud to be part of that lineage,” said Hughes.
Hughes coached baseball for three years at Camden-Rockport, then went on to coach the sport at Georges Valley High School in Thomaston for seven years and at the middle-school level in Thomaston for 16 years.
Hughes said he is not retiring and is pondering several options as to what he’ll do next professionally.
Applications for Hughes’ replacement at Camden Hills are being accepted through April 25, and Hughes hopes to be able to help his successor in the transition process before he leaves the post at the end of June.
Houlton football plans on track
All systems are go for the introduction of a subvarsity 11-player football program at Houlton High School this fall.
Marty Bouchard, the school’s principal, said Wednesday that the Shiretowners plan to pursue a schedule of games this fall through the Eastern Maine Class C LTC ranks.
“At this point we’re set to go,” said Bouchard. “We’ve talked with kids in the school who are potential players about getting everything in order. We want to make sure we’ll have the numbers to sustain the program.”
Bouchard said a poll was conducted among students in grades 8-11 to determine interest in adding a high school football team at Houlton. Some 60 students responded positively to the possibility, and while fewer students turned out for a subsequent introductory meeting, school officials are optimistic they will have at least the 30 to 35 players deemed necessary to forge ahead with the pursuit of eventual varsity status.
The RSU 29 board of directors gave its approval to the proposal last month.
The Houlton area in recent years has been home to a thriving eight-player football program that has competed in the Aroostook Football League, a non-school-affiliated league that also includes teams from the St. John Valley and central Aroostook County.
The Houlton Knights AFL team, which also included players from other schools in the region such as Hodgdon and Katahdin of Stacyville, had approximately 35 high school-aged players last fall when it won its third straight league title.
In addition, the Knights’ middle school-age (grades 7-8) and peewee (grades 5-6) teams have averaged between 20 and 25 additional players each, providing an established feeder system for the fledgling high school program.
The start-up Houlton high school football program will be funded by the Houlton Football Association boosters group as well as through a pledge of support from the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians.
Plans also call for the team to play games and practice on a new field soon to be built on land owned by the Maliseets.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded $600,000 in grant funding to the Maliseets last year through its Indian Community Development Block Grant Program for the construction of football and baseball fields and an athletic track.
That new facility, which will be used primarily by tribal members, would replace a smaller field that has been used as a practice facility by the Houlton eight-player AFL entry.