Tom Danylik, left, addresses Regional School Unit 10 directors recently in Rumford. They hired him as assistant principal and athletic director for Mountain Valley High School in Rumford, starting July 1. (Sun Journal file photo)

RUMFORD — Al Cayer won’t stop actively rooting for Mountain Valley teams next fall, even though it will be the first time in six years he won’t be the school’s athletic director and assistant principal.

Cayer will retire in June after nearly 40 years in education. But Falcons fans will still be able to find him at Chet Bulger Field on Friday nights.

“I’ll be wearing a different hat, and maybe I can be on ‘Judgement Hill’ with the other old-timers,” he said, describing the favorite gathering spot for alumni next to the home grandstand. “They’ve already invited me up there.”

After nearly 40 years in education, Cayer will turn over the reins of the athletic program on July 1 to his assistant AD for the last six years, former boys’ basketball coach Tom Danylik.

“Tom is young and enthusiastic, but like me, he’s old school,” said Cayer, 62. “He’s going to bring that energy to the athletic department.”


Danylik, 32, said he will miss coaching and the Special Education teaching he’s done for the last 10 years. But he is excited for the opportunity to broaden his impact on the lives of more students as an assistant principal and athletic director, something Cayer touted as one of the best features of holding both titles.

“Those connections with kids are what led me to apply,” Danylik said, “and having seen what Al has done laying the foundation for all of us, my job is to continue that and move forward

A mathematics teacher for 28 years, Cayer coached football at Mexico and Dirigo high schools, then branched out to track and field and skiing at Mountain Valley.

After serving as assistant principal and athletic director at Mountain Valley Middle School, he replaced Jim Aylward as athletic director. With declining enrollment driving down the performance of many traditionally strong sports, Cayer guided the school through a tough transition. Some, such as cheering, skiing, baseball and basketball, remained strong in the Mountain Valley Conference and competitive in Class B but only one of its signature programs, wrestling, brought home state tournament hardware as 2014 and 2015 Class B runner-up.

Perhaps the most difficult transition during Cayer’s tenure came in football. The Falcons won just three games in two seasons after dropping down from Class B, and Aylward, the school’s only football coach to that point, stepped down after the 2013 season to coach at Mt. Blue. 

The Falcons didn’t advance past the C South quarterfinals the next three years but dropped to Class D after the addition of a fifth class and reached the regional semifinals in coach Pat Moody’s second year.


Other teams, such as boys’ and girls’ basketball, boys’ and girls’ skiing and boys’ soccer, also experienced a resurgence in the past year.

“It’s been a good ride,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed athletics, and I’d like to think I left Mountain Valley athletics in a better place.”

By the end of the school year, Cayer and Danylik hope to find the latter’s replacement for boys’ basketball and someone to fill the girls’ basketball opening created by the earlier resignation of Ryan Casey after five years as coach. 

Those are the only varsity head coaching openings that will have to be settled for the start of Danylik’s tenure.

“Those are two big shoes to fill. (Hiring) new coaches is a time consuming process,” Cayer said. “We’ve got a veteran crew of coaches and we’ve got some youth, too, and that will be a good group for Tom to work with.”

Danylik said he will lean on those veteran coaches to help make the transition as smooth as possible. But he is ready to take the torch leading the athletic department into its second quarter century.


“The culture and pride that goes with this school and the sense of community with Mountain Valley, Rumford, Mexico and the surrounding area is something that has drawn me ever since I first walked into the building as a student teacher in 2007,” Danylik said.

Besides preparing the department for summer activities and the start of the next school season, Danylik, who lives in Wilton, said he will become more actively involved in the community in the coming weeks to get to know each other better.

“Al Cayer has been a pillar in the Mountain Valley community for a long time and I think it will take some time for people outside of basketball to get to know a new face,” he said.

The pride that community takes in Mountain Valley athletics brings more pressure than many administrative jobs

“Al’s advice has been pretty simple, and that’s that you won’t make everyone happy,” he said. “But if you make the right decisions for kids and stand by those decisions and support them with good reasons for them, I think that makes the pressure a little bit easier to take.”

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