The Anchorage School District has opted to dissolve its girls hockey program after 10 years, citing low participation numbers as the primary reason.
ASD’s supervisor of high school education, Derek Hagler, says even though there is certainly interest in girls hockey in Anchorage, the school program just wasn’t sustainable.
“The hope, and certainly the goal, was to grow that program so each high school could field a competitive team,” Hagler said. “As the numbers have not increased and as the interest has not grown, as shown by the activities and athletics survey ASD administers each year, it became necessary to look at discontinuing this program.”
Hagler says 83 girls participate in high school hockey. He says even without the program the district will still be in compliance with Title IX – which grants equal athletic opportunities to men and women.
This year, there are 16 girls’ sports and 15 boys’ sports in Anchorage high schools, and last year over half of the athletes competing in high school sports were female.
Brent Vandenbos has been the head coach of the Dimond-West girls’ hockey team for the past two seasons. He says he has a number of upset players who he has talked to over the last couple days – including his daughter.
“My daughter will be a senior next year, and this will be her last year, and she was really looking forward to playing it again one more year,” Vandenbos said. “She played the last couple years and really improved and enjoyed it.”
Vandenbos has talked with parents as well, some of whom won’t have a daughter in high school for the next year or two, but are still upset by the cancellation of the program.
“That’s what they were looking forward to was to go to a girls high school hockey game, and their team being on there,” Vandenbos said. “You know, high school is a pretty big thing up here.”
Derek Hagler says even though the program is gone for now, the district will continue to reevaluate the situation, and if the interest level in girls hockey rises in the future, the program could be reinstated.