Camden Hills girls’ soccer players celebrate last fall after winning the Class A state title for the fourth consecutive year. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer Buy this Photo

Camden Hills Regional High in Rockport on Friday became the first high school in Maine to opt out of the fall sports season.

The school announced on Facebook that it would not be competing against other high schools this fall. Instead, it will offer a modified fall sports program to its athletes, which will include practices and games among students at the school.

Whether Maine will have any high school sports this fall remains to be seen. The Maine Principals’ Association said it will decide by Thursday on which sports, if any, can be played during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s not a shock, I think we were prepared for it,” said Camden Hills football coach Chris Christie. “I guess I struggle, because I totally get why the decision was made, but then I feel for the athletes that have been working all summer and the seniors that want to go to that next level. … But I respect the decision the school made. Their hearts are in the right places.”

In the Facebook post, Camden Hills officials stressed that “first and highest priority is to keep our schools open for as long as possible. The importance of face to face instruction is not in doubt and all of our decision making this summer has been to maximize the opportunities for face to face instruction. We are trying to balance many needs.

We have reached the point where we can no longer wait to see if the MPA or State of Maine will even allow interscholastic athletics. We feel the path forward is very clear and apparent. We have come to the disappointing conclusion that there is no way to adequately minimize the risks of mixing our student population with other school populations in thinking about league competition. We have, therefore, decided that we will not be providing a traditional interscholastic sports schedule this fall.”


It later stated, “We know this is very disappointing for our athletes and their families and recognize that many of you will be upset, even angry about this turn of events. All we ask is that you give yourself time to think about the bigger picture. This pandemic is asking for sacrifices from everyone in large ways and small. This is a big sacrifice and can only seem acceptable if we remember the larger goal we are trying to achieve, which is to do everything possible to offer in-person instruction through this year. We feel balancing this goal with modified athletics is the best outcome we can achieve.

The post was signed by MSAD 28 Superintendent Maria Libby, Principal Shawn Carlson and Athletic Director Jeff Hart.

The post further stated that “any student who is playing a club sport outside of Camden Hills will not be allowed to participate with the school teams.”

Camden Hills golf coach Mark Wallace had hopes for a season, as golf tournaments have been played in Maine during the summer. While he’s disappointed, Wallace said he respects the school’s decision.

“I am disappointed, as a returning coach, to lose the season,” Wallace said. “Of all the fall sports that had a legitimate chance of survival, golf had the most promise. I’m sure our student-athletes will be very saddened when they hear the news but we will move on and work together as a team on skills and compete against each other. We can do nothing more than make the best of a difficult decision.”

Camden Hills has won the last four Class A girls’ soccer state championships. Its football team planned to transition to eight-man football this fall.

“I feel for my coaches,” said Christie, who was hired as the head coach in July. “My offensive and defensive coordinators have put hundreds of hours (of work) in, because now that we’ve dropped to eight-man, we completely redid playbooks. And they have put so much time into developing these things.

“But this is what life is, and that’s probably the message that I will extend to the kids, that this is what life is, and you have two choices. Of course, we’ll be upset, there’s a time for that for sure. But let’s get creative, and I think the school is allowing for some creativity, but let’s be very mindful of the guidelines. Let’s be upset for a little bit, but let’s keep this program moving forward.”

— Kennebec Journal sports writer Dave Dyer contributed to this report.

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