JAY — Regional School Unit 73 board of directors on Feb. 8 approved the formation of a wrestling program at Spruce Mountain Middle School beginning in 2025.

Chair Robert Staples said he had asked Mike Danforth, wrestling commissioner and coach for Area Youth Sports to bring the request to the board. Staples’ son was a wrestler and now his granddaughter wrestles.

“I have been on a wrestling mat for 22 years, learned several things about myself,” Danforth said. “Wrestling has taught me to stand on my own and to pick myself up when I fall, he noted. “I ask the opportunity to teach students at Spruce Mountain Middle School and hopefully eventually at Spruce Mountain High School these two life lessons.”

Wrestling is a tough sport but it teaches character, things not gotten elsewhere, Danforth noted. “The towns of Jay, Livermore and Livermore Falls have several children that are dropping through the cracks,” he stated. “They are out running the streets with no purpose, no goals. My goal is to have a wrestling team to encourage those kids to join, get them into something that they love.”

The AYS Sprawlers wrestling team has 33 youth, 10 of whom are middle school age, Danforth said. One girl will be in high school next year, won’t have a place to wrestle due to aging out of the AYS program, he stated. “When you age out, you lose out, lose someone in your corner,” he noted. “Every year I have two or three kids that are gone, that I don’t know what happens to them. They don’t stay in contact.

“I want to get kids involved in school, not just so they can be a champion wrestler, so they can give back to the community that they are in.”


Danforth spoke of students on other teams who represent themselves and school, who feel pride from that. He wants wrestling to be another option for students.

Staples said Danforth has a wrestling mat, so one wouldn’t be needed to start the program. Shoes and head gear have always been purchased by the wrestlers, he noted. Two coaches would cost about $4,000, travel would be about $3,500, joining the Pine Tree league is $300 and hosting two meets [which Danforth doesn’t want to do the first year] would be an additional $400, he stated.

“The total cost even if we did host two meets is $8,200,” Staples said, “That is actually 37/100,000 of the budget. We know we are going to have at least 10 kids, I would guess closer to 15 or 20. Wrestling doesn’t start until after basketball, ends beginning of February vacation so it doesn’t impact any of the other sports.”

Wrestling gives kids an opportunity to try something they may not have tried before, Staples noted. The program would start in 2025, he added.

Nate Michaud said he played sports in high school which kept him out of trouble, kept his grades up and focused.

“A lot of kids don’t care for school because there is nothing to look forward to,” he stated. “I think this would help them.”


Coach and parent Erica Greenleaf said wrestling in high school was the best decision she ever made, kept her in line, made her the person she is today. “I feel like wrestling definitely put me towards a better future,” she noted. “It is a family and once you are a part of it you never lose that for the rest of your life.”

Brandy Pike spoke of her two children who wrestle, don’t care for other sports. It teaches sportsmanship, team spirit, conditions their physical and mental strength, builds personal goals, she noted.

“We are doing them an injustice by not having a local wrestling team for them to continue,” she added.

Danforth noted wrestling has changed, there are guidelines in place to prevent wrestlers trying to lose weight rapidly to fit into a different weight class.

Superintendent Scott Albert said wrestling wasn’t included in the budget, every year there is some flexibility in the athletic budget. Not having other sports at the same time, getting other kids involved are important, he noted.

Danforth noted wrestling requires the athleticism of a cheerleader, the toughness of a football player. “I want this to be a place where [kids] can spread their wings and fly,” he added.

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