Members of the Mount Desert Island boys’ basketball team dribble during the second day of skills and conditioning workouts Dec. 15 in Bar Harbor. MDI began basketball, swim and cheer earlier this week and will begin wrestling and indoor track after winter break. JUSTIN NORWOOD PHOTO

MDI, Deer Isle-Stonington begin winter sports



BAR HARBOR — The winter sports season continued in Hancock County this week with two more schools joining in on the action.

Mount Desert Island became the third high school in the area to begin winter sports when it held its first day of skills and conditioning exercises Monday. The list of Hancock County schools participating in winter athletics expanded to four members Thursday as Deer Isle-Stonington held its first practices.

MDI held its first basketball and swim practice Monday and its first cheer practice Tuesday. Teams participated in separate pods with “green” and “white” groups conducting approved activities at various times and dates throughout the week.

MDI delayed the start of practices for two other sports, wrestling and indoor track, until students return from winter break. Wrestling, the lone “high-risk” sport under the state’s community sports guidelines, must gain further approval before traditional practices and competitions can begin next month, and indoor track faces its own obstacles with facilities at the University of Maine and Bates College unavailable.

Elsewhere in Hancock County, Deer Isle-Stonington joined the list of Hancock County winter sports participants Thursday as it held its first basketball practices. The school had scheduled its original start date for last Monday but voted Dec. 1 to delay the season by 10 days. Basketball will be the only sport sponsored at Deer Isle-Stonington this year as there was not sufficient interest for a cheer team.

The start of practices at MDI and Deer Isle-Stonington means the majority of Hancock County high schools will have begun the winter season as of this evening. Ellsworth and Bucksport held their first practices last Monday, the earliest start date permitted under Maine Principals’ Association and state guidelines.

Only one Hancock County high school, George Stevens Academy, has yet to make a decision on the winter sports season. GSA Athletic Director Larry Gray told The American last week that the school would be delaying its decision until at least Jan. 4.

At the other end of the county, Sumner Memorial High School will not participate in winter sports this year after the Regional School Unit 24 Board of Directors voted Dec. 1 to cancel the season. The school district discussed winter sports again during a Zoom meeting held Tuesday, though no further action was taken.

Teams are limited to skill-based drills and physically distanced activities until Jan. 4, on which date they may begin more formal team practices and intra-squad scrimmages. Competitions against other teams are on hold until at least Jan. 11, though MDI Athletic Director Bunky Dow emphasized that the current focus remains on the more immediate future.

“[We’re] just taking it one day at a time,” Dow told The American. “As far as any games or events, no decision has been made at this time. If we get to that point, we are hoping to compete, but the conditions need to be favorable for everyone.”

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell

Mike Mandell is the sports editor at The Ellsworth American and Mount Desert Islander. He began working for The American in August 2016. You can reach him via email at [email protected]

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