It’s an even year, so Gardiner is hosting Cony is the annual Drive Out Cancer Challenge. The event, which benefits the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care in Augusta, began in 2009.

For a while, the plan was to have a week with Cony playing Gardiner in every fall sport. When Cony moved to Class B in football and began playing Gardiner in the regular season, that became more difficult. Last year, there was a field hockey game only, and that was held in mid-season.

This year’s Challenge is closer to the previous format. Gardiner hosts Cony in a girls-boys varsity soccer preseason doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m. on Sept. 2. The schools play an exhibition game in field hockey Sept. 6, with the JV game at 5 p.m. and the varsity game at 7.

Gardiner field hockey coach Sharon Gallant said the schools are trying to make arrangements to move their volleyball match to that week. One twist is that the football game in the Challenge won’t be between Cony and Gardiner. The teams don’t play until Oct. 24, so to keep everything in the same week, the Challenge football game is Gardiner’s home meeting with Lawrence on Sept. 5.

“We were just going to take whatever team fell in that week,” Gallant said.

Gallant said black will be the color added to the team uniforms, to represent melanoma.

“That was chosen because we have so many athletes who end up with skin cancer,” she said. “They have these practices out in the sun, and they forget to put sunscreen on. Unfortunately, the majority of their damage is done now, and doesn’t show up until years later.”

• • •

Maine Central Institute doesn’t have many sporting events on its campus. Baseball, softball and field hockey, among others, are across the street at Manson Park.

That will change in the coming years, as an anonymous donor gave the school money to build fields on campus.

“There’s enough room for two soccer fields and a field hockey field,” MCI field hockey coach Nancy Hughes said.

The fields aren’t ready for this season, and as part of the process of getting the fields ready for next year, players were asked to arrive on a certain day and remove rocks. They’ll repeat that in the spring, Hughes said.

It’s not only a benefit to the programs — Manson Park’s surface isn’t well-regarded in the field hockey community — but Hughes thinks it’s a benefit for the school.

“It will bring people to campus who would never see the campus,” Hughes said. “We have such a beautiful campus. It will be nice to showcase that a little bit more.”

• • •

In all high school sports, there is a disparity between the best and worst teams. In sports like baseball and softball, there is a mercy rule to deal with that.

At its most recent meeting on July 31, the Maine Principals’ Association field hockey committee explored whether to institute a mercy rule in field hockey. Paula Callan, the assistant principal at Messalonskee and chair of the committee, said this was at the suggestion of some coaches.

“The coaches, at one of their meetings, it came up as a topic of conversation,” Callan said.

And the end result?

“Basically, we said no,” Callan said. “The reason is, we want to leave the decision up to the coaches. They do a pretty good job of making sure they don’t run up the score. We didn’t even move on it.”

Matt DiFilippo — 861-9243

[email protected]

Twitter: @Matt_DiFilippo

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