Carlisle squads benefit from cooperation

8 years ago

   PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — The Maine Principals Association, as the governing body of high school athletics, has as one of its prime goals to have as many students participating as possible. With decreasing enrollments, and smaller schools being prevalent, the MPA recognized that cooperative programs would be a positive way to ensure more kids could be involved.

Aroostook County had benefitted from this cooperative arrangement in the past, as Hodgdon and Houlton had been working together for several years in fielding an ice hockey program. With the expanded opportunities, this seemed like an ideal time for Presque Isle, Caribou and Limestone, with the Maine School of Science and Mathematics, to combine their efforts with swimming.
Leading up to this season, Caribou and MSSM had already been working together sharing coach Erin Tateishi. During competitions, however, the athletes were not able to form relay teams, which severely limited their opportunities.
On the Presque Isle side, participation numbers have dropped over the past several years, due in part to the lack of a feeder system. No outdoor pool and the loss of the indoor pool had cut down on the opportunities for Presque Isle athletes to be involved in a summer swimming program, which in turn created interest and improved numbers. Without combining, the status of the Presque Isle program was in doubt. At times over the past few years, they had difficulty even being able to field full relay teams or fill events at meets.
When the opportunity arose for these local teams to combine, SAD 1 Athletic Administrator Mark White, Caribou Athletic Administrator Dave Wakana and Sarah Stackhouse of MSSM decided to get on board. The squads had done some travel to larger events together in the past, so it was a natural progression to combine.
“It (this cooperative opportunity) saved the swim programs, at least for now,” explained Wakana, “and it may save other programs too.”
While the positives of the situation are many, it is not without its challenges as well. The teams have alternated their practices between the pool in Limestone and the pool at Gentile Hall in Presque Isle and that has involved bussing students to the others venue. It has also been a challenge to get teams who were rivals for years to combine and work together.
Coaches Erica Hemphill of Presque Isle and Tateishi have worked hard to build the camaraderie and teamwork amongst the athletes and it has paid positive dividends.
“We have had success as a team in meets,” explained Tateishi, “which we struggled with before. Having relay teams in nearly all events, especially on the boys side, has also been a plus.”
Leading into the season, Tateishi and Hemphill had some broad goals for the athletes.
“We wanted to see each individual able to improve and set their own personal record. So far, they have worked hard and shown considerable improvement,” stated Hemphill.
Tateishi said team members have bought into the concept of cooperation.
“It has been great to see individuals from different schools set aside school rivalries and immerse themselves in the Carlisle team,” she said.
Also of note is the fact that Fort Fairfield, while not a member of the cooperative team, also has two athletes practicing and competing with the Carlisle squad.
Participating this season are seniors Austin Scott and Adrianna Bither, both captains, as well as senior classmates Laura Doucette and Alexis Coiley. Juniors Leigh Buck, Nate Gere and Kristyn Maley, sophomores David Giovani, Elizabeth Deschenes, Libbee Currie, Maddy Wing, Kyra Thibeault and Abby Raymond; and freshmen Abby Espling and Cassidy Coiley are also part of the co-op squad.
The results have been positive with many different athletes putting up career best times, and many of them qualifying for the states. Alexis Coiley, Wing and Cassidy Coiley all have qualified for the states in the 200 free, while Scott. Wing and Alexis Coiley have also qualified in the 200 IM along with David Giovani.
Gere and Leigh Buck have put up qualifying times in the 50 free, and in the 100 butterfly, Wing, Scott and Giovani have posted qualifying times. Scott and Buck also have qualified in the 100 free.
Alexis Coiley, Wing and Scott have put up qualifying times in the 500 freestyle and Cassidy Coiley and Abby Raymond have posted state times in the 100 backstroke as have Scott and Giovani.
Giovani and both Coileys have also qualified in the 100 breaststroke. In addition, both boys and girls relay teams have put up qualifying times in a number of their events.
“We are really looking forward to the PVCs and the States,” explained Tateishi. “More of the swimmers will qualify as they are working hard, and they should really start seeing positive results.
“This has been a positive experience,” she added,” and hopefully it will translate into even more athletes getting involved next year.”