It’s official: The Georges Valley and Rockland District high school field hockey programs will become one cooperative team this coming fall.

According to Rockland District High School Athletic and Student Activities Director Jim Leonard, he received an e-mail Friday morning from Maine Principals’ Association Executive Director Dick Durost, indicating that the motion that both Leonard and Georges Valley Assistant Principal/Athletic Director Ed Hastings had jointly sent to the MPA last month had passed.

The passing of the motion will allow Georges Valley field hockey players, who would have otherwise not been able to participate this upcoming season because the programs were eliminated in a cost-cutting measure during a Regional School Unit 13 Board meeting Feb. 4, the opportunity to play varsity field hockey this fall.

“I’m very pleased with the decision of the MPA,” said Leonard. “This will give a number of kids who otherwise wouldn’t have had an opportunity to play field hockey that chance in a competitive setting. I’m happy for the kids, and it’s a win for them.”

“The MPA got this one right, and its great for the kids,” said Hastings. “I support them and commend them in their decision.”

Friday marked the four-week period in which the MPA outlines in its guidebook administrators will be notified about a decision in such matters. Leonard contacted Durost Friday and quickly heard back about the approval.

That means next season, the cooperative team will function under the name “Rockland-Georges Valley” and will compete in the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference’s Class B division. Rockland is active within the conference, while Georges Valley has participated in the Mountain Valley Conference’s Class C division.

Home games will be played at Rockland District High School, and will also use RDHS uniforms for the upcoming season.

The cooperative team will only be for one year, as Georges Valley High School and Rockland District High School will be combining on all fronts both academically and athletically at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year, presumably under a new school name and mascot.

Additionally, Georges Valley student-athletes will also be able to play football this upcoming season at RDHS, but only in sub-varsity games due to the fact that the Rockland football team is not a cooperative team.

Thomaston Grammar School and St. George Elementary School students will also be able to play both field hockey and football at RDMS in the fall.

Numbers for the Georges Valley field hockey team have been down in the past few years, with the program nearly eliminated in spring 2008 under similar circumstances. Cutting both the GVHS and TGS field hockey programs will save RSU 13 $7,000 to 10,000 dollars, according to Leonard.

Leonard commented last month that a cooperative team would likely ease the transition of consolidation for many of the students in both schools, giving them a way to come together.

“This will give fans from Georges Valley and Rockland a chance to cheer together,” he said.

The motion asked the MPA to waive the rule that states both teams will have completed two years in a non-varsity capacity, which is the norm for all teams either consolidating, returning to or initially joining the MPA. Given the fact that the two schools are heading to consolidation in the 2011-12 school year likely swayed the MPA to grant the motion.

The team will be coached by Rockland coach Joanna Hall, as Georges Valley Coach Lisa Hall withdrew her name from consideration.

Village NetMedia Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at mhaskell@villagesoup.com.