KENTS HILL — The alarm blares at 6:45 each morning, but Kyle Bean tries to squeeze in another 15 minutes of sleep before his weekday begins. It’s hard to blame him, because his day won’t end until close to midnight.

There’s school. There’s a mid-afternoon meal. There’s an hour ride to and from a hockey practice that won’t begin until nearly 9 p.m.

“I don’t usually need a nap. I get enough sleep at night,” said Bean, a freshman at Madison who is skating with the Maranacook/Winthrop hockey team.

It’s the only opportunity Bean has to play at the varsity level in a high school hockey landscape that’s as spread out as Maine’s road maps themselves. Bean is the only Madison representative for the Hawks, who practice regularly from 8:50 p.m. to 9:50 p.m. at Bonnefond Ice Arena on the Kents Hill School campus.

The defenseman is one of three players in Maine who individually represent a school in a co-op. Greater Houlton Christian Academy and Old Orchard each have one player on their respective co-ops.

“I’m kind of used to it from traveling to Augusta (for youth hockey),” Bean said. “Sometimes, late at night, I’ll get home and I’ll be tired when I get up in the morning and wonder why I’m doing this, but I just love the sport.”

The only people who have it more difficult than Bean are his parents, Shawn and Lisa. Kyle’s not old enough to drive himself to and from after-school activities yet, so that duty falls to Shawn.

When the roads are free of ice and snow, he said he can make the trip from rink to driveway in 50 minutes. By the time practice ends and Bean changes out of his hockey gear to hop into his father’s vehicle for the ride home, it’s almost 10:15 p.m.

On a school night.

“I coached (youth hockey) for the last four years and he played there, and when we had bantams it was late at night, too. It’s normal,” Shawn Bean said. “Anything so he can play the game he loves. He had an older brother who went through Madison and he didn’t get to play (varsity hockey), so we wanted to make sure (Kyle) got his chance.”

This is the first time Madison has offered ice hockey to its students since the early 2000s, when it had a few players join Class A Skowhegan, Madison athletic director Chris LeBlanc said.

“I think this is an isolated situation,” LeBlanc said. “You don’t find many kids or parents willing to do what Shawn and Lisa are doing. Kyle is committed to hockey.”

Shawn Bean approached LeBlanc in April about finding a co-op so Kyle could keep playing hockey. They tried the new Waterville/Winslow with no success and also looked into joining the Lawrence/Skowhegan/MCI co-op, which didn’t work out, either. Ultimately, Maranacook/Winthrop was the best fit, as Kyle had played youth hockey with several members of the Hawks. Furthermore, Bean — and not Madison — was able to pay a fee to the program to help offset costs.

“I knew my parents were going to be dedicated to finding me a place to play hockey wherever I could,” Kyle said. “I think it’s pretty good here. It’s been easy settling in.”

The Lawrence/Skowhegan/MCI team typically practices at 5 a.m. at Colby College in Waterville. Though the drive to Kents Hill from Madison is longer, making that drive at night — instead of at 4 a.m. — appealed to the Beans.

Maranacook/Winthrop/Madison coach Jack Rioux hopes that as his program continues to grow — with an influx this year of Maranacook Youth Hockey players and more expected next year — Madison could be another avenue for keeping numbers at a healthy level for varsity hockey.

“I think Shawn and Kyle liked the idea that this was growing here,” Rioux said. “There’s always opportunity. Kids get used to traveling to play hockey now. If we can pick up a handful of kids from outlying areas that don’t have a school program of their own, absolutely. If they’re willing to make the commitment to come to us, absolutely we’ll accommodate them.”

Count Kyle Bean as one of those who is more than willing to commit.

“I think the biggest thing to be learned here is that if you’ve got a kid who’s committed and wants to do it,” LeBlanc said, “there’s always a place for them to play.”

Travis Barrett — 621-5621

[email protected]

Twitter: @TBarrettGWC

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