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Low numbers and the hopes of being more competitive have compelled McAuley and Waynflete to join forces in field hockey this autumn.
The team will be known as CMW (Catherine McAuley Waynflete) and likely will go by the nickname, “The Flying Lions.”
It is believed that CMW is the first field hockey co-op team in Maine.
Waynflete made the playoffs in 2014, for the fourth time in five seasons, but the roster was small.
McAuley, meanwhile, endured its third straight 0-14 campaign in 2014 with a similarly small roster.
At a scrimmage prior to the start of the 2014 campaign, McAuley athletic director Joe Kilmartin and Waynflete athletic director Ross Burdick began a conversation.
“We only had 13 (players) and their team only had 11 and they were losing seniors,” said Kilmartin. “One thing led to another. Both of our leagues (the Southwestern Maine Activities Association and Western Maine Conference) understood and Ross and I met with the Maine Principals’ Association and they endorsed it.”
Burdick said that Waynflete might not have been able to field a varsity team this year if not for the co-op option.
“The program struggles for numbers every few years and we have very few subs, which puts us in a tough situation,” Burdick said. “We anticipated only 11 kids this year and no subs and I didn’t want to do that. We have kids at Waynflete who love field hockey and it’s great to have that program for them to participate in and represent the school, but our options were to try and field a varsity team with just 11 players and worry about illness or injury, field just a junior varsity team, field no team at all or go with the co-op. Joe was in a similar situation.”
McAuley traditionally plays a Class A schedule, while Waynflete is in Class C. By merging, the co-op team will be assigned to Southern Class B (the MPA no longer classifies by East and West, but by North and South).
“We’re playing more of a Class C schedule, but we’ll be eligible for the playoffs,” said Kilmartin.”
“We expect to have between 20 and 22 kids and maybe even play some JV halves or games,” Burdick said.
CMW opens the regular season Sept. 8 at Waynflete versus Sacopee Valley.
The Flying Lions, who will play four home games at Waynflete and three at McAuley, will be coached by Stacey Sevelowitz, who served as a Flyers assistant for three seasons.
CMW is locked into a two-year scheduling cycle, meaning the schools will combine again in 2016. By the fall of 2017, the hope is that the two schools might be in a position to go their separate ways and return to competing as separate entities.
“It’s definitely an experiment,” Kilmartin said. “We felt it was worth a look.”
“It’s a good two-year experiment,” Burdick said. “The two schools are so close (geographically). It will be easy to get transportation to games. We’re excited.”
Despite making the playoffs four of the past five seasons, the lack of suitable numbers has compelled Waynflete’s field hockey program to form a co-op team with McAuley this fall.