After pleas for needed players proved unsuccessful, Old Orchard Beach Athletic Director Jack Trull made the decision Friday to cancel the school’s field hockey season.
“We had been having between seven and 10 girls show up for practice,” Trull said. “We had spent a lot of time contacting girls who had signed up in the spring to encourage them to come out. The players on the team were asking their friends. We had an open house (Thursday) night and made a pitch for the field hockey team, and the bottom line was seven (players) made it to practice this morning.”
Trull said the Maine Principals’ Association deadline for submitting a team is Tuesday. In fairness to the schools on Old Orchard Beach’s schedule who now will have to find another opponent, Trull felt it was important to make the decision Friday.
The MPA made a ruling Friday that OOB’s would-be opponents can schedule a third game against the same team. MPA Assistant Executive Director Mike Burnham said teams will not be required to fill their schedule vacancies.
Burnham added that Trull had given his conference peers forewarning that Old Orchard Beach might need to suspend its program.
“I’m thinking conversations of who they would pick up just in case (have) already taken place,” Burnham said.
Schools have until Wednesday afternoon to revamp their schedule.
Trull said he believed there were 17 players on the 2012 Old Orchard Beach field hockey team that went 3-12 for a second straight season, losing in the Western Class C quarterfinals. In the spring, about 25 students signed up to play.
Attempts to reach longtime Coach Carolyn Mehlman by phone and email were unsuccessful.
“The fact is, sign-up and show up are two different things,” Trull said, adding that injuries and choosing soccer over field hockey explained part of the unanticipated reduction in roster size.
Field hockey is a middle school sport in Old Orchard Beach. Trull said he anticipates the program will return as a varsity sport at the high school.
“Field hockey has been strong in the past,” Trull said. “We’ve made the playoffs most years.”
In 2012, OOB did not field a softball team because of lack of participation. The Seagulls returned this past spring with both a varsity and junior varsity squad.
With an anticipated enrollment of 268 students, Old Orchard Beach would have been the fifth-smallest school in Western Class C field hockey. Telstar, Waynflete, St. Dominic and North Yarmouth Academy are smaller. Eastern Maine schools Winthrop, Piscataquis, Boothbay and Stearns also have smaller enrollments and field hockey teams.
Trull noted participation in most other fall sports is “about the same,” and the football team’s roster is larger than last year.
FOOTBALL: The Winthrop-Traip Academy scrimmage was canceled Friday night, spawning a rumor that Traip had canceled its entire season because of low player turnout. But Traip Coach Richard Ross said in a text Friday night that his team is “fine” for the season opener at Old Orchard Beach next weekend.
“We do a lot with a little,” said Ross.
The Rangers have dressed 20 or fewer players for games in recent years but reached the Western Class C final in 2011 and made it to the semifinals last year, when they finished with an 8-2 record.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at: