After two winning seasons and consecutive playoff appearances the Jay-Livermore Falls soccer program is no more.
The cooperative varsity program has been disbanded, and Jay will continue the varsity squad on its own.
“It was just for budget reasons,” said Sally Boivin, the Livermore Falls athletic director. “When we started out, it was more Livermore Falls girls than Jay, and last year we only had two girls involved. It just didn’t make sense for us to be footing half the bill for so few girls.”
Though the Andies were looking to end their affiliation with the program, the Tigers felt it could continue and field a varsity program by itself. Jay will do so and compete in the Mountain Valley Conference and Western C.
“We’ve had terrific numbers since the program started,” said Mike Methvin, Jay athletic administrator. “It seems like every year we’d send anywhere from six to 10 kids that are playing. This year will be no exception. We’ll certainly have at least seven or eight players that are freshmen.”
The program went from a club team to earning back-to-back playoff appearances in Western B.
“The last four years has been an unbelievable run,” said coach Travis Magnusson. “It could not have been done without the cooperation of Livermore and Jay players over the years. I am very proud of all the girls I have coached and they made some history by being so successful in such a short time. I am happy that soccer has developed in Jay enough that there are enough players to have their own program, but at the same time it is a little sad to see our program change and lose some players.”
Both schools had to appeal to the Maine Principals Association to be allowed to disband. The MPA granted that request last month and Jay was allowed to continue with its own team and do so against Class C competition.
“It was a matter of sending our thoughts and ideas to the MPA,” said Methvin. “We had just renewed our two-year committment last year to play as a cooperative team. We submitted a request to see if they would allow us to disband and allow Jay to field our own team. And if we were allowed to field our own team, if we’d be able to play in Class C.”
The Jay-Livermore Wildcats began as a club team and built up the program over the course of a few seasons. As a varsity club, the team won just two games its first year. In 2008, the team went 6-5-4 and lost in the Western B preliminary. Last year, the team went 8-4-2 and finished seventh in Western B before losing in the opening round of the tourney.
“It was a great success,” said Boivin. “It was a good venture. It was good for everybody involved. “
The two schools split the operating costs of funding the program, but with only two girls from Livermore Falls participating and not many prospective players on the horizon, it didn’t make fiscal sense for the Andies to continue.
“It was a hard decision,” said Boivin. “It was the combination of the two schools coming together for the good of all the kids. With budgets the way that they are, we didn’t want to go through lean years to get to the years to come.”
Girls that are still interested in playing soccer will be able to play on the boys’ team. That was a common occurrence for years before the Andies began the girls’ squad.
“Even before the Wildcats, we had girls that played on the boys’ team,” said Boivin. “Rita Castonguay, years ago, was able to compete and ended up being an all-star on the boys’ team. We played Telstar this year, and they had a couple of girls on that team and they were very competitive.”
The two schools began discussing the program’s future after last fall and prepared their proposal to the MPA in January. Jay’s belief is that they’ll be able to continue the program quite successfully and be able to compete well in Western C.
“It’s definitely sustainable,” said Methvin. “Our soccer programs have had terrific numbers in both the boys’ and girls’ for the last five-plus years. Every year we have 35 to 40 kids that are playing soccer, and it’s almost split between boys and girls.”
Jay rehires coaches on a yearly basis and will have to post the girls’ soccer job, something Methvin intends to do in the next few weeks. If Magnusson chooses to apply, he’d certainly be the prime candidate for the position.
“It’s certainly hoped that he will return,” said Methvin. “That’s up to Travis to determine. He’s a terrific coach whether it be basketball or soccer. The kids love playing for him, and he runs a very organized program. We hope that we will return, and the kids hope he will return. It’s there for him to comeback.”
While it is the end of a nice joint effort by both schools, that success has now enabled Jay to move forward on its own. It’s a nice challenge for a program that was already showing promise.
“We enjoyed our association with Livermore Falls,” said Methvin. “It was a good match. It was a great way of getting a program rolling with sustainable numbers. The kids are now excited to play as the Jay High School Tigers.”