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September 23, 2013

Pentucket joins women's ice hockey program

School Committee says district can't afford to help cover costs

WEST NEWBURY — Some of Pentucket’s female athletes may have a chance to play ice hockey this year — but only those who can afford to pay the hefty price tag to participate.

At a meeting on Tuesday, Pentucket senior Liza Brackbill and three other young women athletes told the regional School Committee about the unique chance for their high school to participate in a cooperative ice hockey program for women. Brackbill said at least 10 students have already expressed serious interest in the concept, but without some financial support from the district, many of them will not be able to play.

In the end the committee agreed to join the pilot program with high schools from Haverhill and North Andover — but they would not agree to subsidize any of the costs.

Haverhill High School has decided to start a Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association-approved women’s ice hockey team this year. But because it does not anticipate having enough players the first year for a full team, it proposed entering into a cooperative agreement with Pentucket and North Andover.

Haverhill would be the host school and the majority of games and practices would take place at the Veterans Memorial Rink at Haverhill High School. Costs would be split among the three schools with each school assessed based on the number of student-athletes on each team.

The estimated price tag is $32,000 and breaks down as follows: coach’s salary, $5,600; transportation, $5,100; ice rental, $14,500; game officials, $1,600; game staff, $2,200 and athletic trainer, $3,000.

Based on 20 athletes per team, the estimated per-student cost would be $1,600. Haverhill intends to charge students a user fee and an additional fee for ice time, but it would be up to each school to decide individually how to cover these costs.

Pentucket Superintendent Jeff Mulqueen said his intention was not to add women’s ice hockey to the school’s roster of sports this year. He cautioned the school board against adding a new expense to the budget right now. Instead, he saw this as an opportunity for certain students who might want to take advantage of it.

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