The state government shutdown has left Brewer High School athletic director David Utterback in limbo.
Utterback is waiting to see what the state will allocate to the Brewer School Department because that will dictate whether it can add girls volleyball and boys lacrosse to its curriculum this coming year.
The two teams would be considered varsity teams but they wouldn’t be included in the Maine Principals’ Association’s Heal points standings and wouldn’t be eligible for postseason play.
Utterback said the hope would be to have MPA-sanctioned varsity squads for the fall of 2018 that would be eligible for Heal points and be able to compete for a postseason berth.
For the time being, Utterback said, “I would love to be able to hire a volleyball coach right now.”
Volleyball is a fall sport while lacrosse is played in the spring.
There are currently 36 varsity volleyball teams in the state and Utterback would like to put a team on the court this fall to play 14 exhibition matches.
He has already contacted athletic administrators at Sumner High of East Sullivan, Bucksport, Ellsworth, Washington Academy of East Machias, Mount Desert Island and Cony High of Augusta about scheduling matches and he also intends to contact officials at Narraguagus High School in Harrington this fall.
There is plenty of interest in volleyball, he said.
“We had a meeting in June and 27 girls signed up. And that was without incoming freshmen and I know there are some who are interested,” said Utterback.
He pointed out that the gym floor at the Brewer Community School, which was built in 2011 for grades K-8, was designed so that it was volleyball-ready.
He said if Brewer receives the necessary financial allocation from the state, it would have varsity and junior varsity players which would give approximately 25 girls an opportunity to participate.
“We want to tap into a new clientele of girls who aren’t doing anything in the fall. It’s good for kids to get into a routine and be part of a team,” said Utterback.
Brewer offers volleyball in gym classes but there is no feeder system.
However, Utterback said that isn’t a concern.
“We don’t have a feeder system for indoor track but we get 70 kids out every year,” he said. “We don’t have a feeder system for swimming and we get 25 girls every year. We also get 32 kids out for tennis and we don’t have a feeder system for that, either.”
There are three statewide classes in volleyball.
Brewer is dropping to Class B in most sports this fall so if the Witches were to become a Class B participant in volleyball, they would be joining Brunswick, Cape Elizabeth, Cony, Ellsworth, Falmouth, Gardiner, Greely of Cumberland Center, Kennebunk, Lake Region of Bridgton, Mount Desert Island, Wells, Yarmouth and York.
However, Brewer could also schedule a number of Class C schools which would include Bucksport, Calais, George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill, Jonesport-Beals, Lee Academy, Machias, Narraguagus, Sumner, Washington Academy and Woodland. The only Class C team that isn’t based in eastern Maine is North Yarmouth Academy.
The closest Class A schools are in Portland (Deering, Portland High and Cheverus).
“Volleyball is one of the most fun sports to play. It’s competitive but it’s different. You aren’t chasing a ball around for 60 [field hockey] or 80 minutes [soccer],” said Utterback.
He believed $16,000 has been allocated in the Brewer budget to start up its volleyball program and $32,000 for boys varsity lacrosse.
Bangor High School is looking to add boys and girls lacrosse but Utterback said there wasn’t much interest shown in girls lacrosse at Brewer.
There are 45 varsity teams in both boys and girls varsity lacrosse across the state.