Yarmouth senior Adrianna Whitlock fires a shot past York defender Kristen Leroux during the Clippers’ 4-1 victory Sept. 5. New sports passes will give all Yarmouth students in grades 6-12 free admission to games like this one. File / Derek Davis

YARMOUTH — This fall the Athletic Department has distributed about 1,000 all-season sports passes to students to encourage them to come out and cheer for the Clippers and foster more community involvement in school sports programs.

“We want to do everything we can to get students and their parents to attend,” new Athletic Director David Creech said this week. “There are all kinds of benefits, but one of the greatest is peer support and recognition for our players.”

Overall, “we want to grow excitement” for sports in Yarmouth, Creech said. “We hope attending games will light a fire and increase interest in general.”

The passes provide students in grades 6-12 at Yarmouth High School and Frank H. Harrison Middle School with free admission to home games for the varsity boys and girls soccer teams and the varsity football team. As the season progresses, Creech said he wants to add volleyball, field hockey and cross country.

Admission for varsity games is $4 for adults, $2 for those 60 and over and $2 for students over 12, “and we don’t want cost to keep students from attending.” To help generate interest in sporting events, Creech said he’ll also try to schedule back-to-back boys and girls games whenever possible.

Yarmouth senior John Clinton is expected to play a key role for the boys’ varsity soccer team this season. Right now new sports passes for Yarmouth students only apply to home soccer and football games. File

Creech said another benefit is getting students, particularly middle schoolers, interested in playing sports at the high school level.

Michael Burnham, executive director of the Interscholastic Division at the Maine Principals Association, said this week that while statewide participation rates in more traditional sports, such as football, baseball and softball are declining, other sports like track and field, volleyball and girls lacrosse are seeing significant increases and there’s a “very healthy” number of students taking part in sports.

At Yarmouth, Creech said, “we have really good numbers in terms of participation.” This fall the high school is fielding three teams each in boys and girls soccer, two teams for field hockey, three teams in volleyball and two teams in football, which has been fairly typical over the past few years.

Creech doesn’t have concrete numbers for game attendance, but said students have begun to use the sports passes. A new, $15 regular season pass for home games offered to the wider community has also generated some interest, with about 40 residents buying the passes so far.

With all of the passes, he said, “we hope to encourage as many students to go to as many games as possible.”

Avery Buchanan, an eighth-grader at the middle school, said the pass “opens all these doors to learn more about sports they might know nothing about.” She also believes watching high school athletes in action helps younger players improve.

Buchanan plays soccer, ice hockey and softball at the middle school and said she hopes the new program leads to more people watching girls’ events, in particular. “I’d really like to see more people at girls’ games because right now they get less attention,” she said.

Buchanan said the access also gives her a chance to “hang out with friends in a safe place.”

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