April 24, 2013
Low participation has made program unsustainable
Due to low student participation, the Anchorage School District is discontinuing the high school girls' hockey program.
The girls' hockey program has existed under a waiver from the Alaska School Activities Association for the past 10 years. The annual waiver was necessary for this sport because it was in pilot status and schools did not have enough participating students to host their own teams. The waiver allowed teams to consist of players from two different high schools. For example, East and Service high schools combined to make one team. ASAA's intent was to grow the program so each comprehensive high school could eventually host its own team both in Anchorage and in other districts statewide. This would also increase the opportunities for competition, which have been limited due to combined teams.
The pilot program was offered as a way to accommodate the developing interests and abilities of female athletes in the sport of hockey. However, during the 10 years of this waiver, there has not been an increase in student participation. Because of insufficient student interest, the district has been unable to reach the minimum number of participants needed to sustain a team at each of the comprehensive high schools.
"This change is not easy," said Superintendent Ed Graff. "The female athletes, coaches, and parents who have participated in girls' hockey during the last decade have committed time, energy and dedication to the program but it simply has not grown like we hoped or anticipated."
Student interest is a critical factor in evaluating successful programs and serves as a tool for assuring that district resources are serving the interests of the greatest numbers of athletes.
In the continued effort to improve athletic opportunities in ASD, especially for female athletes, 10 middle schools will offer interscholastic basketball for the upcoming 2013-14 school year for both girls and boys. Based on current projections, approximately 500 more female athletes and about 500-600 more male athletes will participate in interscholastic sports during the next school year. The district expects expanding and funding middle school sports opportunities will strengthen both middle school and high school athletic programs.