High school sports

Touchdown: Medomak Youth Football promoted to club status at MVHS

'Hope' is to play varsity football in fall of 2015
By Mark Haskell | Jan 28, 2014
Courtesy of: Beth A. Birmingham Naomi Miller, standing, who has spearheaded Medomak Youth Football from the start, talks to Regional School Unit 40 board members at a Jan. 23 meeting at Miller School in Waldoboro. Football received official support from the board as a club sport at Medomak Valley High School next fall.

Waldoboro — Varsity football at Medomak Valley High School is one step closer to becoming a reality.

At the Regional School Unit 40 School Board meeting on Thursday, Jan. 23, the board approved for the Medomak Youth Football high school-aged program to be recognized for club status.

Naomi Miller, president of MYF, made the presentation and request at the meeting at Miller School.

This is the third year of the MYF program. The first year of the program was for kindergarten through eighth-grade students, while the last two years the program has been for K-12 students.

“It's really just yet another step toward our ultimate goal of becoming a varsity program,” said Miller. “It's been a lot of work. We've been the first three years of K-8 and in 2012 we added the high-school level team. The club status is sort of that mark of approval from the school system, but in addition to that, it really makes available a lot of different resources the school has to offer.”

The MYF high school-aged team has been part of the Greater New England Youth Football League the past two years. Last year the team was the top seed in the league's South Division, but fell to Central Maine in the semifinal playoff round.

Miller said the team's participation in the GNEYFL satisfies the Maine Principals' Association's requirements of having a club team for two years before the team can become a full-fledged high school varsity program.

The MPA governs all member school's varsity athletic programs. Most new high school teams need to hold club status for two years before they can petition the MPA for varsity status.

“They recognize the games played within that league as toward your varsity status,” she said of the MPA. “So we're not held to an additional two years. We actually could become a varsity sport much sooner than [the fall of 2016].”

“I'm pretty excited,” said Medomak Valley High School athletic director Matt Lash. “I know everybody involved is and I know the school is. Based on how well the high school [football] program has done the past few years, it's a positive for the whole community. I'm thrilled. I can't wait to see the next step.”

While Lash is the athletic director of MVHS and Medomak Middle School, the school system's involvement will include only the high school football program.

“Everything below the high school club team will still be run by Medomak Youth Football,” said Lash. “Obviously the high school club will be involved in that as well as far as fundraising and whatnot, but my responsibility will be to the high school club and obviously we haven't even had time yet to sit down and go over that stuff.”

“We've had overwhelming support from Mike Cormier, the superintendent, and Matt Lash, the athletic director, has just been incredibly supportive of our program from the onset,” said Miller. “He's been helpful at every turn, as has Mr. [Harold] Wilson the [high school] principal.”

At the Jan. 23 meeting, the board voted 13-1 to approve the team's move to club status, with Danny Jackson the lone board member to vote against. Jackson said he felt “they didn't need to add another non-academic program that could potentially cost the district money.”

Lash said all funding for the high school football program will continue to come from Medomak Youth Football “until further notice,” which does not mean funding from the school will not be in play in the coming years.

Miller said that when the team is eventually picked up as a varsity sport, as it appears to be on the track to becoming, “there's going to need to be a financial commitment” from the school district.

“We're still 100 percent run by our volunteers and by our fundraising and all the work the kids and the parents do,” Miller said. “So, financially we're not changing anything [now] by being recognized as a club [team].

“That next step [in terms of funding] will have to go before the board again when and if that happens,” said Lash.

Miller said, “There's a lot to be done and there's a lot to prove to the community and the school board.”

Medomak Youth Football has played its games at the Union Elementary School field (formerly D.R. Gaul) the past three years, though the high school team has played its homecoming games on the baseball outfield at Medomak Valley High School. It also practices on the front lawn at Medomak Valley High School.

The team ultimately will need a permanent home field to put up goal posts, but that site has not yet been determined.

“We are discussing with Mr. Lash options for our field of play,” said Miller.

While there are many wrinkles still to be worked out, the hopes of Lash and Miller are clear.

“Our hope is that by 2015 we're playing varsity football,” she said. “I think that's realistic and that gives us something to work toward.”

“My intention this fall is going to be to pursue playing a jayvee schedule, so I need to start that communication within the league and see what we can find out,” said Lash. “But my hope would be that [2015 for varsity] is a possibility.”

The Courier-Gazette reporter Beth A. Birmingham contributed to this story.

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