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Swimming and a co-op hockey team coming to WRHS

April 21, 2010
TILTON — Supporters of ice hockey and a swimming and diving team for Winnisquam Regional High School sat patiently through a very busy School Board agenda Monday night, but it was worth the wait when Athletic Director Jeff Cloos got the green light to initiate the new sports programs at the start of the 2010-11 school year.

Cloos received support from Winnisquam High School Principal Dr. Ronna Cadarette, who explained to the board that the school surveyed students in the high school and middle school to see, among other things, what could be done to engage more of them in sports and what sports they would like to see added to the athletic program.

Cloos said the swim team would cost the district no more than the $100 start-up fee into New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association. Everything else would be provided by the athletes and their parents.

"What we have are some kids who really want to participate. The parents know there are costs involved - they've been doing it for years," he said.

Swimmers and divers will practice with Laconia High School's team, working with their coach. Parents will be responsible for getting the athletes to all practices and meets, which concerned some School Board members.

Board member Kevin Washburn said it was recently brought to his attention that members of the wrestling team were told they must travel by bus to their meets. Washburn questioned why the swim team should be an exception to that rule.

Cloos explained there are only a handful of students who will be participating on the swim team, making the cost for a bus prohibitive. Should the team grow to 15 or so, he agreed that a bus at that time might be necessary but he felt self-transportation was more cost-effective for a smaller team.

Team hopeful Greta deVolder agreed, saying that since swimming is an individual sport, athletes are used to training and driving to meets on their own. Meets can last an entire day and participants generally leave after their own event. Having a bus waiting would mean students would be restricted from leaving and the bus and athletes could be tied up for hours waiting for everyone to compete.

"We're used to going to a meet, doing our event and then leaving," deVolder said.

Board members were still concerned about liability issues, however, and said that while they appreciated how much money would be saved by parents driving athletes on smaller teams, asked that the handbook for the swim team perhaps include a waiver for transportation. In the end, they did vote to approve the sport under those conditions.

There was less discussion in regards to forming a co-operative hockey team. Cadarette explained that Laconia High School has been looking to expand their program by forming a co-op team, something that has become a trend in the state. They have been seeking a school to partner with, like Belmont and Gilford did, and have asked Winnisquam to be that school.

"Steve Beals (Laconia High principal) has been courting us, wanting to make this happen," she said.

Hockey players would practice with LHS at the Laconia Ice Arena. Like the swim team, they would be required to provide their own equipment and parents would transport them to for practices. Cloos said Laconia would hire a bus to take the team to the games but parents and a booster club would absorb the expense. Again, the only cost to the district would be the $100 NHIAA fee, he said.

The board approved the team, contingent upon final approval by NHIAA.

Students and parents were pleased with the outcome as they filed out of the room. deVolder said she has been swimming for many years and has always wanted to swim for WRHS as part of the interscholastic competition.

"I'm so excited. I have some friends who are really interested, too. Some already swim and some want to try so this is great," she said.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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