READFIELD — Her team’s identity has changed a bit during her time playing lacrosse. When she can, though, Sienna Beauchesne appreciates being able to wear a little bit of green.

The Winthrop High School junior now wears a Maranacook uniform on game days as part of a co-op team between the schools. In practices, though, she and a few of her teammates are often sporting their old uniforms incorporating Winthrop’s green with Maranacook’s black and gold.

“I like it,” Beauchesne said. “I like being able to wear that little bit of green and feel like I’m representing my school and my team. It makes us feel more combined, like we’re more together as a team.”

It’s a common scene at Maranacook this spring. After all, Maranacook and Winthrop now compete together as co-op teams in girls lacrosse, softball, boys lacrosse and boys tennis.

The arrangements, athletic directors say, are necessary because of low participation numbers.

The softball team is the latest co-op between the two Mountain Valley Conference schools. The Black Bears were looking at just 10 players this spring, while the Ramblers had six. Neither would have been able to field a standalone team.


“This year was definitely a down year for us just in terms of numbers,” said Winthrop Athletic Director Joel Stoneton. “We have some good numbers coming up next year, so we may be back, but if things go well, we’ll certainly see how it goes.”

The 2024 season marks the 13th that Maranacook and Winthrop have been together for boys lacrosse and the fifth in girls lacrosse. Maranacook has 26 boys lacrosse players to Winthrop’s eight. Maranacook has 23 girls lacrosse players to Winthrop’s five.

Maranacook, with an enrollment of 361, is larger than Winthrop (220 enrollment) and is the primary team in three of the four co-ops — softball and both lacrosse programs. Winthrop hosts Maranacook and Monmouth Academy in boys tennis.

“When I started here in January 2019, we had the boys lacrosse co-op already, and we wanted to form a varsity girls team,” said Maranacook Athletic Director Brant Remington. “We knew there was a lot of interest from some of the girls here and at Winthrop, so we formed that co-op.”

The co-ops are a natural fit geographically, as the schools are separated by a mere 8 miles. It became an even better fit once Maranacook left the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference for the MVC last year.

Although both of Maranacook’s varsity lacrosse teams would be big enough to stand alone, the co-ops, Remington said, allow for  junior varsity teams. Both teams were initially known as the Hawks, though the girls team is now the Black Bears as it is now funded through Maranacook. (The boys will make the same change in a few years.)


“There’s more Maranacook kids, but they’ve all been super open and nice to us, and it’s been really fun to be combined,” said junior Ella Rice, one of the six girls lacrosse players from Winthrop. “(Our team vibe) is very silly. We are an extremely goofy team.”

Maranacook and Winthrop’s lacrosse teams are also combined at the middle school level. Many of the Hawks and Black Bears have been playing together for several years, providing a level of continuity that’s often hard to find among co-op programs.

“That definitely makes the relationships and the chemistry easier,” said Maranacook junior Emerson Davis of the Maranacook/Winthrop girls. “You’d think it would be a little more cliquey because it’s a high school team from two schools, but we get along so well. It’s a great dynamic.”

Both lacrosse programs have enjoyed success in recent seasons. The girls have had winning campaigns in all four seasons to date, going 38-18 over that span. The boys team, which also includes players from Spruce Mountain, has posted five straight winning seasons and was Class C state runner-up in 2019.

The softball arrangement is new. Both teams fielded their own squads last year with Maranacook finishing 14-4 and Winthrop going 9-9. 

Prior to the season, the co-op softball team ordered new black uniforms with both school names featured on the front. Maranacook’s bear logo is featured on the left sleeve, while Winthrop’s famous Rambler bus is displayed on the right. The team has also taken on a new nickname, the Rambling Bears.

The ties between the two aren’t limited to spring sports. Last fall, four Maranacook players played on the Class C state-title winning squad. In the winter, the two were formerly part of the now-defunct Capital Region boys hockey co-op, and Winthrop has also sent alpine and Nordic skiers to train at Maranacook in the past.

“We’re only a few miles away from each other, and a lot of our kids have relationships with each other,” Stoneton said. “We’ve been teaming up together here and there for a while, and it just works.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.