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Academy District 20 parents concerned of potential cuts to lacrosse and hockey programs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Academy District 20 parents are worried about what potential cuts to girl’s lacrosse and boy’s ice hockey means for their student-athletes.

Last week, parents and coaches received an email from District 20 stating the district recommends reducing the number of girl’s lacrosse and boy’s ice hockey programs. The email goes on to say an informational session about the potential reductions will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 15. However, the email never mentions a reason for the cuts besides briefly referencing “student safety” and “improved athletic experience.”

Gina Oliver, whose sophomore son plays ice hockey for Air Academy, said she was “blindsided” by the email.

“There was no notice, no engagement,” Oliver said. “We feel like it's a bit of smoke and mirrors. We feel it is very disingenuous and the people who suffer ultimately are our student-athletes, which is not what a school district is supposed to be doing.”

D20 told KRDO13 Investigates it is considering reducing the four hockey and four lacrosse programs, between Rampart, Liberty, Air Academy, and Pine Creek High Schools, to two programs for each sport. D20 said the current programs are spread too thin leading to safety concerns for inexperienced players and a lack of consistent success.

Historically, the four programs for both hockey and lacrosse consistently finished seasons with losing records. D20 also references other districts with fewer programs and larger student bodies.

Pine Creek Hockey Coach Ed Saxer said he’s worried if the four hockey programs are cut in half, dozens of kids will be cut from high school hockey within the district.

Oliver said those kids that are cut would likely be out of other options, as club hockey is more advanced and expensive than high school hockey. She’s worried if kids can’t play their favorite high school sport, they will miss out on important life lessons and emotional outlets sports give them.

“None of us can figure out why the school district would make, what appears to be unilaterally, this decision without parental and student involvement, only to have two competitive hockey teams and leave literally half your kids out with no avenue,” Oliver said.

District 20 said it is unlikely any students would be cut from either hockey or lacrosse next season if these reductions went into place. D20 said hockey would be reduced to two programs of 40 players each. Both programs would also have a practice squad of 10 players, meaning the two programs would allow up to 100 students within the district to play hockey.

The four lacrosse programs would be cut to two programs with 35 to 40 students each. The district said this allows both programs to have a varsity and junior varsity team.

On Wednesday, the district is holding an informational session for both lacrosse and hockey programs to explain their reasoning for potentially reducing the programs. But Oliver said the meeting is just a formality and believes the D20 School Board has already made a decision.

“What are they trying to fix and why aren't they being transparent about it and looking at options rather than just cutting the program,” Oliver said.

According to the school board’s Thursday meeting agenda, it will discuss the “Changes to Athletic Programs.” A D20 spokesperson said the board is not voting on this agenda item but is simply being presented the information about the potential cuts.

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Quinn Ritzdorf

Quinn is a reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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