It is a transitional period at Searsport High School, and Ruth Fitzpatrick is back as the athletic director and dean of students (assistant principal) at the high school and Searsport Middle School.

She has been the dean of students since 2005 and was also the athletic director until Jim McGinn took over the athletic director duties for three years leading up to this year. McGinn teaches history and is now the event manager at the school.

The transition for Searsport involves going from Eastern Maine Class C to Western Maine Class D.

The Maine Principals’ Association is trying to create more equity between the number of teams in the east and west.

For example, Searsport’s inclusion in Western D upped the number of boys soccer teams to 12 and the number of girls teams to nine. In Eastern Maine Class D, there were 22 boys teams and 19 girls teams. In Eastern C, where Searsport played a year ago, there were 16 teams in each the boys and girls divisions.

In basketball, there are 16 boys teams in Western D and 24 in Eastern D. On the girls side, there are now 15 Class D West schools and 24 in D East.

Fitzpatrick said the move hasn’t made a big difference because they have kept an Eastern Maine-heavy schedule.

The basketball teams will play just four of their 18 regular-season games against Western D opponents: two games apiece (home-and-home) against Islesboro and Valley High of Bingham.

The other schools on their schedule are Eastern teams Bucksport, Stearns of Millinocket, Penobscot Valley of Howland, Sumner of East Sullivan, Bangor Christian, George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill and Deer Isle-Stonington.

“It isn’t that big of a deal,” said Fitzpatrick. “When we travel to Stearns, it’s a two-hour jaunt. I don’t think it really matters where we are (East or West). One class may be strong one year and another year it isn’t.”

She said playing in Western D was beneficial for her soccer team, which finished 8-4-4 and lost to top seed and eventual Western champ Richmond in the semifinals.

“It was great because there were so few teams in D West,” said Fitzpatrick.

The boys soccer team wound up 4-10 and missed the playoffs.

“The girls were fun to watch. They were very skilled,” said Fitzpatrick. “The boys never gave up and improved tremendously. And they didn’t have a senior.”

Fitzpatrick is enjoying her role. She had previously been the athletic director and field hockey coach at Hampden Academy and served as the director of the Maine Center for Sport and Coaching at the University of Maine before coming to Searsport.

“Sports are a passion of mine. They are so beneficial for young people. I enjoy working with student-athletes,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s great to go out and see the players’ growth. And there is nothing better than seeing a sport played well.”

Redding returns to coaching Calais girls basketball

Dana Redding is glad he is able to return to coach the defending Eastern Maine Class C Calais High School girls basketball team this season.

Redding, 61, underwent open-heart surgery at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor in July and didn’t know if he could return to coaching.

“The first thing I asked the doctor after the operation was could I coach and he said, ‘No problem,’” said Redding, who is in his sixth year guiding the Blue Devils.

“I look forward to coaching. It passes the winter for me. I feel so much better when I get in the gym. It gives me energy,” he said.

He added that he feels good and is anxious to go a step further this year after losing to Waynflete of Portland 59-55 in last year’s state title game.

“We can’t be happy with what we did last year. We fell short. We’ve got to be hungry this year,” said Redding.