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Park Rapids to continue hockey cooperative

Park Rapids will continue pairing with Walker-Hackensack-Akeley, Menahga and Nevis for boys hockey.

The Park Rapids Area School Board voted 5-1 Monday night in favor of continuing the boys hockey co-op for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years with Gary Gauldin voting against the pairing. He has consistently been opposed to athletic pairings between schools.

Board members heard from many parents and community members at a meeting in early October and took time to hear from additional people before Monday's meeting.

Board chair Sherry Safratowich said she was ultimately driven to vote in favor of the pairing by the school's mission statement, "preparing today's learners for tomorrow's challenges."

"Walker has come to us, asked us to pair with them. What better way to improve and enhance our program," she said.

Some have said there is a numbers problem, however Safratowich said she thought there was a numbers problem before the co-op. Safratowich said she's also a strong believer in having the junior varsity program.

"There's a lot of learning, emotional growth and physical maturity, I believe, that goes along with the junior varsity level," she said. "... Competition breeds excellence and success."

Board member Karol Savage thanked everyone who contacted her about the issue.

"I have spent a lot of time thinking about this and I will vote in favor of the co-op," she said.

Gauldin said he has never had as many one-hour phone conversations about academic subjects as he has about hockey.

"This is one of the most contentious issues," he said.

He is adamantly opposed to pairing, he said, but doesn't want the issue to fragment the hockey association.

Board member Stephanie Carlson said she encourages parents to try and support the decision made by the board.

"Kids listen to parents," she said.

Carlson said she hasn't seen enough negative issues after one year to discontinue the co-op.

Board member Dennis Dodge was also in favor of continuing the co-op. He said in his opinion it's in the best interest of the kids.

Savage added that she read some evaluations from students about last year's hockey program.

"There was a lot about travel on them," she said. However, their solution was to have a coach bus, she said.

"I don't think it's the kids" that have an issue with the program, Savage said.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
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