The Minnesota State High School League has approved a short-term cooperative agreement between the North Branch Area Public Schools and St. Francis Area Schools boys hockey programs.
The coop was sought to address expected low numbers in the boys hockey programs over the next two years. Neither St. Francis or NBAPS were able to field a junior varsity program last winter. With this move, boys hockey players in both programs will have the opportunity to play their sport at the proper level.
"It is my responsibility to provide safe, appropriate, and high level high school hockey programming to our students. This typically requires us to have enough numbers to provide both a JV and Varsity team, allowing students to learn and grow at the proper levels in relation to skill and experience," said NBAPS Activities Director Andrea Schmidt, who added, "With our youth levels currently co-oping, the collaboration between St. Francis feels like a natural one, as neither program was able to offer JV hockey this past year, nor will we have the numbers to do so in the near future."
In a letter to affected families, Schmidt indicated she will focus her energy on getting both schools back to "separate, yet fully sustainable programs," as soon as practical.