Wednesday, April 10, 2002
Steamboat Springs A decision on the future of high school boys hockey in Steamboat Springs is expected by Friday, High School Principal Dave Schmid said.
Last week, the Colorado High School Activities Association notified the school that it needed a formal ruling on the status of the team by the end of the week to begin scheduling. Schmid said he will sit down with Athletic Director Bruce Crowhurst and Vice Principal Mike Knezevich to deliberate on the possibility of adding hockey to the current slate of high school sports offered.
This marks the third straight year supporters of prep hockey have expressed a strong desire to begin a high school team, pointing to strong youth interest as a valid reason to establish a squad. So far, the supporters have been denied.
Last May, after attending several high school and recreational games, former athletic director Steve Moos said administrators felt there were "just too many unknowns" to justify adding hockey.
For one, Moos said he wasn't interested in damaging the established success of the Steamboat Springs Youth Hockey Association, from which many of the high school players would be drawn.
Current Youth Hockey Association coach Dave Strang doesn't foresee the possibility of a high school team affecting his league's tradition. He hasn't been involved in the lobbying for the prep squad this year but said he is in favor of creating one. The decision, however, is really up to the panel, he said.
"I've made it clear that it would be a good thing," Strang said. "I only see a high school team boosting our league."
Strang said he is under the impression that if a local high school team is established, the Youth Hockey Association would have input on coach selection, registration and booking practice times. His teams would still compete and there would be no overlap of players between a high school team and his competitive squads. Schmid said the panel has met with the kids to listen to their thoughts.
While some aspects of team management may fall outside of the high school, sending two delegates to home games and one when playing away from Steamboat Springs falls under the school's jurisdiction. Between boys and girls basketball, skiing, wrestling and possibly hockey, finding administrators to attend all of those events might be difficult.
High school hockey supporter Bill Krueger said this was the main "stumbling block" last year. However, Battle Mountain Athletic Director Fred Koetteritz said his school managed in its inaugural season.
He was at every hockey game but said the designated game official didn't have to be an administrator. Someone such as a teacher would work as long as he or she was capable of making decisions should a player be injured or involved in an altercation. He advised against using parents, but overall, Koetteritz said the first year was a success.
"Vail has a strong tradition of hockey, as does Steamboat," he said. "But the kids were real excited about representing the high school. The student body got involved. The kids have really benefited."
Insufficient facilities and discrepancies in grade policies between high school and club teams were additional issues raised last year by the Steamboat Springs administration.
Renovations to Howelsen Ice Arena, home to the possible high school team, would be required, including bleacher seating for crowd control and new locker rooms. Krueger touched on the grade policies last year when he said parents and players would abide by high school rules and regulations regarding grades and participation.