PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Principals’ Association last week reversed course and approved a waiver allowing Deering players to compete with the Portland boys’ ice hockey team.
After denying a request for a co-op team in 2010 and 2011, the MPA’s Interscholastic Management Committee gave the OK, by an 11-1 vote, for the co-op team in 2012-13.
Deering made the request because it lacks numbers to form its own team. The prior requests were denied because the MPA’s maximum enrollment rule stated a co-op program couldn’t exceed a number greater than the state’s largest high school (Deering and Portland, combined with Casco Bay High School, easily crossed that threshold).
This time around, the MPA took a different view.
“This year mirrored the situation a year ago with the girls [when the MPA approved Deering’s girls playing with Portland],” MPA Executive Director Dick Durost said. “Deering had to drop its boys’ program last year. That had an impact. We’re seeing more and more ice hockey programs having numbers issues across the state.”
Additionally, the MPA granted a waiver to alter its rule that one of the schools needed to be without a program for two years (Deering only lacked one for one year) and it also waived its rule that the team’s uniform needs to reflect both schools.
Deering athletic director Mel Craig said that the Portland uniform will be worn, but that there may be a patch of some kind to reflect Deering’s participation.
Craig said that school dynamics were a factor in the decision.
“It’s not the Deering and Portland of 10 years ago,” Craig said. “Our populations have changed dramatically. Hockey is an opportunity available to only a few. It won’t limit kids’ choices whether to go to Deering or Portland.”
Two Deering players are expected to play with Portland, but Craig hopes more will show interest.
“Now that we’re approved, we hope to see a few more kids play,” Craig said.
Portland athletic director Mike Connolly said the Bulldogs are pleased with the decision as well.
“I think our players and coaches are excited,” Connolly said. “We see it as a positive. That’s the read I’ve gotten. This helps us out in the long run.”
Durost said that MPA waivers are for two years and are reviewed every two years. So for the next two seasons at least, boys at Deering High will be able to return to the ice.