By Tony Blasi, Sports Editor
JAY — Marc Keller knew when he became the athletic director and assistant principal at Spruce Mountain High School that it might sometimes feel like being the third wheel of a Penn & Teller juggling act.
There’s the scheduling of three high-school sports seasons and trying to attend several events in one day. And there are other “challenges” that arise over the course of a season and getting to know the student population.
“I love it. I do. It is busy,” Keller, a dedicated educator, said. “My interactions with the kids — they have always been positive. They are friendly.
“They want to know about me. It not that, ‘Oh yeah, that’s the new assistant principal.’ They ask questions. Where did you come from? What did you do before you came here? They genuinely want to get to know me.
“That’s great because that was a concern and it is a concern for me getting to know the kids after always being in the classroom…I am hoping to connect with each and every student.”
This is the Montville native’s first AD gig, but he is no stranger to high school sports. He replaced James Black, who is now Mt. Blue Middle School’s principal.
Before coming to Spruce, he taught health and physical education and coached a variety of sports at the varsity and junior varsity levels at Mt. Abram for 18 years.
The Mt. View High School grad earned his degree in education at the University of Maine at Presque Isle.
And when the position opened up and the Phoenix moved to the Mountain Valley Conference, Keller decided to interview for the job.
“It is one of those things where I participated over the 18 years in a lot of sports against Mountain Valley Conference teams, and I always found that no matter the coaches, parents, kids just had a quality that they were genuine people,” Keller explained. “There was never an incident with them. They always had great sportsmanship — even back when they were playing Jay and Livermore Falls.
“This group of people from this community just seem to be genuine people. It just seems to be a very family-orientated community. They care about the kids a lot, and that means a lot because that promotes education.
“When the families care about the kids, it promotes education. I have seen a lot of support in my short time. The school spirit that the kids have — you know it is difficult coming from two schools that were rivals. It about making a community out of what we have here.”
Keller is aware that jobs are scarce and the population has dwindled in these communities over the years — and these changes wreak havoc on school budgets.
“It hasn’t been anything that I really had to deal with it, yet,” Keller said. “I am going to look and see where our shortfalls are and try to take care of those things first, and try to help people understand how important what we do at the high school with Phoenix athletics.
“They get so many things out of it when they participate in sports.”