Dexter field hockey team opens to Central players as co-op

DEXTER — A rivalry will be set aside for the good of the student-athletes as Central High School in Corinth field hockey players will have the opportunity to suit up for the Dexter Regional High School Tigers this fall. The Central Red Devil program lacked the numbers for a full squad during the first week of preseason practices.

A field hockey cooperative agreement between the two schools connected by Route 94 was approved by the SAD 46 school board during a meeting at the Ridge View Community School on Aug. 24. 

Across the state there are dozens of similar arrangements to allow schools to combine teams rather than go alone or not be able to offer the sport. For Dexter, students from neighboring Piscataquis Community High School of Guilford — which does not offer football — have been part of the Tiger gridiron team for a number of years.

This will be the first season Central has not fielded its own field hockey team. The cooperative agreement with Dexter has not yet come before the RSU 64 school board, which had its last regular meeting on Aug. 16 (the second day of the fall preseason.

Observer file photo/Stuart Hedstrom
CLOSE CONTACT — Dexter’s Preslee Dow and Kaitlin Lord of Foxcroft Academy fight for position in the corner of a 2021 game. This season the Dexter field hockey roster will be open to players from Central High School under a cooperative agreement.

Superintendent Kevin Jordan said cooperative teams need board approval. 

“Our feeling is it continues to give those kids an opportunity and there may be a time when we are in a similar situation,” he said.

Dexter Principal Steve Bell said Central began practices with just eight players, three fewer than are on the field in a game. He said this number went down to six the next day and at the moment just two Central students have indicated a willingness to travel to Dexter to be a part of the field hockey team.

“Everybody helps everybody else when needed,” he said about cooperative agreements. The principal said he was unsure if the field hockey co-op would just be for 2022.

Bell said the Dexter field hockey coaching staff is fine with the arrangement. “If hearts and minds are in the right place, it should be easy,” he said. “It’s about the kids.”

The principal said field hockey head coach Brittany McAllister teaches health at Central, so she already knows many of the students there. He also said Hannah Farrar, who had led the Red Devil program, teaches art at Dexter.

Board member Leilani Cyr, whose daughter plays field hockey, said some parents originally were not in favor of the co-op, but are now fine with the arrangement as only a few Central players will be on the roster.

In 2021, Dexter finished ninth in the Class C North standings with a record of 6-8 while Central was 11th at 2-12. In the lone matchup between the two, the Tigers won in Dexter 3-0. Both teams lost in the prelim play under the then open-tournament format.

In his report Bell said fall sports are in the second week of the preseason and most teams have had a first scrimmage.

He said Dexter will be fielding a boys soccer team after not doing so a year ago due to low numbers. He said the 2022 roster features 16 players, part of 100-plus students who are playing on the seven fall sports teams.

“We’re close to a full staff for the opening of school,” Bell said, saying other schools in Maine and across the nation still have positions to be filled just before the start of classes.

Ridge View Principal Jessica Dyer said middle school football practices began the week prior and other sports will start next week. She said numbers are low for field hockey and boys soccer, and later in the meeting she was given the go-ahead by district officials to allow fifth-graders to play on these teams to bulk up the rosters.

“This morning I was bragging, we filled all of our open teaching positions,” Dyer said. This changed later in the day with a Jobs for Maine’s Graduates teaching position vacancy being created.

Dyer said School Nurse Crystal Greaves has been named Nurse of the Year by the Maine School Nurses Association. 

“We were extremely proud and honored,” Dyer said, as she and Jordan attended a Maine Schools Nurses Association event for Greaves. Dyer said a celebration to honor Greaves with the students is being planned.

In other business, Jordan said the regional comprehensive high school committee is scheduled to meet next month. “We have some initial project costs around the architectural and engineering work,” he said.

The Maine Department of Education will not provide up front funding for these estimated $800,000 expenses on the $100 million project.

“We don’t have a plan for how we’re going to cover that debt,” Jordan said, with this to be discussed at the September meeting.

The local districts, SAD 46, SAD 4 of Guilford, the Milo-based SAD 41, and RSU 64 of Corinth, will need to cover the costs of an engineering study and other planning efforts before receiving the $100 million in state funding to build the project. The school would be voted on via referendum should progress be made to determine a facility location somewhere in the region.

Two renovations projects at the high school are proceeding. 

Funding is in place to replace a portion of the roof. Engineers are preparing bid documents to secure a contractor to begin the work in June 2023.

At last June’s referendum, SAD 46 voters approved receiving a bid of a little less than $375,000 from the Maine Department of Education’s School Revolving Renovation Fund for the project. In order to receive the money from the state, the district would need to contribute nearly $160,000 toward the project but this would be bonded over 10 years at a 0 percent interest rate.

The chairlift will no longer pass inspection and this will be replaced with an elevator for $200,000 (which is part of the 2022-23 SAD 46 budget).

Jordan said this project has gone out to bid and “we anticipate that will be done early this fall.”

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