After two years at Scarborough High School, Gary Groves is stepping down as athletic administrator to become a full-time pastor.

Groves announced last week that his passion, ministry, had grown to the point where he can now do it full-time and that he is no longer able to juggle that pursuit with athletic administration.

“It comes down this, my church has quadrupled,” said Groves, who serves as the minister of the West Gorham Union Church and recently took over at the Hiram Community Church. “It’s grown tremendously over the past few years and needs more attention. I’ve struggled to find balance with being an AD and maintaining the church. It’s gotten harder and harder.

“I love the AD job, but I’m passionate about my ministry.”

Groves was a three-sport star (football, basketball, baseball) at Westbrook High and played football at the University of Maine. After college, he became a Renaissance Man, spanning the globe, doing everything from working on the grounds crew at Fenway Park to playing professional football in Italy to overseeing major concerts and sporting events in Anaheim, Calif., to racing motor cars to serving on the Westbrook City Council.

Groves became the athletic director at Portland High in 2001 and stayed until the fall of 2005 when he returned home to Westbrook. He only remained as the Westbrook AD for one school year, then took over at Deering in the summer of 2006. After one year, Groves stepped down to pursue the ministry, but he returned to athletic administration in the spring of 2008 to fill in for Susan Robbins at Yarmouth, while she was out on maternity leave. He then spent two very successful years at Scarborough.

“It’s been an excellent position for me,” Groves said. “I’ve loved the core of coaches we have. (assistant AD) Robyn (Carrier) has been tremendous to work with. (Principal) Pat Conant has been so supportive. I feel like I’ve worked with the veteran coaches to improve their programs and strengthened the coaching staff in some areas by bringing on people like (boys’ basketball coach) Joe Johnson, (girls’ hockey coach) Caitlin Cashman and (new football coach) Lance Johnson.

“I’ve worked hard to have a positive relationship with the parents in the community and I feel that’s been very successul. I’ve worked with Bruce Gullifer at Community Services to upgrade the facilities and offer opportunities for kids at all levels. I’m sad to leave the relationships I’ve made here, but I’m extremely joyful about where I’m heading.”

Scarborough principal Pat Conant, who is also leaving after the school year, praised the way Groves handled his time with the school.

“Gary has been a wonderful member of the high school team,” she said. “His quiet strength has been a model for students, staff, and parents alike. He deals with each student individually while providing consistency and equity between and among programs. His background and experience allowed him to hit the ground running and provide the leadership a program as large and successful as this demands.”

Groves, who has traveled to India several times to minister, will stay in his position through June 30. In July, he’ll make another trip to India, then he’ll return to work with his congregations full-time.

Groves hopes to keep a toe in the athletic water by working as a mentor for new athletic directors and plans to remain the site director for events like the football and lacrosse state championship games.

Groves said he believes there will be many interested applicants for his position, both veteran administrators and in-house candidates.

Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]

Gary Groves served as Scarborough’s athletic director for two years.