Parents propose adding hockey at Middle Park to East Grand board meeting |

Parents propose adding hockey at Middle Park to East Grand board meeting

Fraser Valley Hockey Association/courtesy photo
Although a Grand County youth hockey program exists in the Fraser Valley Eagles, the program only has teams up to the bantam level, which is for kids 14 years old and under. Once the youth athletes age out of the Eagles team they have to decide to quit or to drive to another county to keep playing.
Bantam league championship

The East Grand School District Board held a meeting meeting Feb. 21 at Fraser Valley Elementary and heard from parents who asked the board to start exploring the addition of ice hockey to Middle Park High School’s athletic program.

To begin the process the board would need to give the district athletic director Mike Reigan approval to start exploring adding ice hockey to the school.

Nicole Schafer spoke for the group of parents that attended the meeting and told the board about her three hockey-playing sons, two of which drive to Summit High School to play on its hockey team.

“I’m a mom who has three boys, and those three boys live for hockey,” Schafer said. “That’s why I was so passionate about making sure that we had this discussion tonight.”

Schafer said her youngest son, an eighth grader, has to make a decision between quitting hockey or driving 12 hours a week to get to practices and games in Summit. She also emphasized the gas money spent and mileage put on cars by Grand County kids driving to another county to play hockey.

A Grand County youth hockey program exists in the Fraser Valley Eagles, but the program only has teams up to the bantam level, which is for kids 14 years old and under. Schafer mentioned the success of the Eagles teams — the bantam and peewee (U-12) teams earned spots in their state championship tournaments at the end of February.

“Fifteen of those kids next year are going to be told they have to either spend 12 hours in a car driving for 3.5 hours of practice time or they’re going to have to give up this sport they love,” Schafer said.

Middle Park looked into adding a hockey team a few years ago, Reigan said, but concluded it would not be appropriate because there was not enough student interest to play and lack of facilities.

Schafer touched on other issues related to starting a hockey program at Middle Park, including transporting players to seven away games per year, the cost per player and potential upgrades that Fraser’s Ice Box ice rink would need to host games. She said several people have expressed interest in coaching the high school team.

Superintendent Brad Ray voiced concerns about Schafer’s proposed timeline, which would establish a junior varsity team during the 2023-24 school year and a varsity team the year following.

“I just see a lot of pieces to get in place,” Ray said. “I don’t disagree with what (the parents) want. I am just trying to ask for time to get it done thoroughly, and 2023-24, as you can see, gives me a little bit of an ulcur.”

After more discussion between the board and parents, the board members voted to explore hockey as a Middle Park sport and have a report presented to the board by December, based on the school board policy for adding sports and activities. Board member Ted Reade abstained from the vote because he wanted to hear from Reigan, who was not present at the meeting.

While parents had mentioned talking to the Colorado High School Activities Association as something they wanted the school board to allow Reigan to do, he said that communicating with CHSAA is one of the last steps in the process.

“That’s way down the line,” Reigan said. “I gotta go through and do my due diligence — do all the things that are necessary before I even go to CHSAA. At that point in time, then, it’s just a conversation with them about when we would start it.”

Reigan will follow board policy to conduct a feasibility study, which he said involves interest surveys among other things. Policies require sport additions to maintain equity, meaning the school would have to add a girls sport if it added hockey. 

Parents suggested adding girls golf to meet the requirement, and Reigan said his work will involve exploring the possibility of adding a girls sport, but he does not know at this point if it would be golf or something else.

Other business:

  • The Rendezvous Foundation presented a $39,000 check to the Fraser Valley Elementary Parent Advisory Committee at the meeting.
  • Fraser Valley staff presented to the board about their success using the Open Court reading program.
  • The consent agenda listed five resignations from across the district.
  • Sarabeth Smith, the district instruction and assessment coordinator, and district instructional coach Sara Rector presented to the board about instruction and test scores.
  • The board briefly discussed the potential for adding school-based health centers and what to do with the old Granby Elementary School building
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