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Hockey co-op request with Bottineau denied

By Staff | Apr 16, 2009

The Rugby School Board denied a request from two families for the district to enter into an extracurricular co-op with Bottineau’s district for boys hockey.

The decision was made at the April 14 meeting and followed two prior meetings of discussion with the parents and administrators.

Board member Cory Johnson said it was difficult to OK a co-op with just two potential players interested in playing high school hockey in Bottineau next season. Also, the current Rugby Amateur Hockey Association indicated it will offer a Junior Gold (high school-level) program again next season.

The parents wanted the opportunity for their teens to play high school-sanctioned hockey through the North Dakota High School Activities Association. It’s a higher level of hockey than Junior Gold, and it’s uncertain whether Rugby will have sufficient players to adequately roster a Junior Gold team in the future.

At the March 10 meeting, Jeff Lind, school superintendent, reported he had contacted Bottineau school officials, who were open to the co-op. Lind explained the district’s likely costs of entering a co-op would be around $7,500, the transportation costs to and from practice. A concern was raised by Dave Zwingel, Jr.-Sr. High principal, about Title IX compliance, a federal law requiring equal a participation opportunities for boys and girls. Adding another boys sport could subject the district to a challenge concerning the Title IX issue if another patron were to come forward requesting the addition of another girls sport or a co-op with another school. It could force the district into funding the sport simply because of the imbalance in activities offered.

Nicholas Schmaltz, board member, said getting sufficient participation numbers in the sports currently offered by the district is challenging already, given declining enrollment. He isn’t sure adding a sport at this time would be appropriate.

The board recently received a recent letter from the Rugby Amateur Hockey Association (RAHA) which indicated the trial co-op between Rugby’s program and Bottineau’s in two lower hockey levels this past year was successful.

Both programs are affected by low participation numbers, and it’s likely they will be looking at co-oping at the high school level as early as the 2010-2011 season. However, the RAHA board indicated it’s not in a position at this time to decided whether to discontinue its Junior Gold hockey in favor of a future co-op with Bottineau at the high school level.

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