A 12 months after a go back to the state playoff bracket, Aspen High School’s varsity hockey program is maximum likely being placed on hang.
After graduating 11 seniors and seeing the whole enjoy point of the group drop dramatically, the Skiers plan to demote its hockey group to junior varsity, with the choice for athletes to check out for rival Glenwood Springs’ varsity program for the approaching season, pending one ultimate informational consultation between AHS Principal Sarah Strassburger and potential pupil athletes. By Colorado High School Activities Association bylaws, Aspen won’t be able to rethink a varsity group for the following two seasons.
“We understand we have juniors and seniors who want to play at the varsity level, and I’m not going to hold them back,” Aspen High School Athletic Director John Castrese stated. “It’s been a very tough decision.”
The Skiers noticed a bounceback marketing campaign in 2021-22, making the state playoffs after going 3-9 in 2020-21, advancing out of the primary spherical for the primary time since 2017-18. But after a core of eleven seniors graduated, sufficient management, avid gamers and fogeys felt that this system had taken a large sufficient step again to take away the 2007 state champion from varsity festival.
The college’s personnel met with avid gamers and fogeys Tuesday night time to provide an explanation for the verdict, falling simply wanting finalizing the plan after questions of ways knowledge was once disseminated to scholars. Clarification was once sought on whether or not scholars may play each varsity at Glenwood and junior varsity at Aspen, regardless that AHS management does now not be expecting that to be a subject. Strassburger requested Castrese to search a choice extension from CHSAA, who had already given AHS a time limit of Tuesday.
“We just need to be able to field a hockey team, that’s the big issue,” Strassburger stated.
There had been 3 different choices being explored — both staying in varsity, transferring to junior varsity and holding all avid gamers in Aspen or thirdly transferring all avid gamers, varsity and junior varsity, to the Glenwood Springs program.
AHS and fogeys/avid gamers, plus different stakeholders akin to Aspen Junior Hockey — the principle feeder of avid gamers into the Skiers’ roster — met on Sept. 6 to to begin with talk about “how to sustain the hockey program this season,” in accordance to a submit on Facebook. From there, a survey was once given out asking for comments on how to continue.
Castrese stated that 16 scholars answered to the survey. He stated 56% sought after to play varsity point, 38% sought after to play JV, and 60% need to play JV with the choice of taking part in at Glenwood Springs. No pupil sought after to play at Glenwood Springs at each ranges.
Castrese estimated that about 15 scholars confirmed hobby in taking part in this 12 months, down from the greater than 20 remaining 12 months. Players and fogeys on the assembly commented that many gifted avid gamers have left to play at boarding faculties or golf equipment.
The new alignment could have Glenwood Springs sourcing avid gamers from throughout all the valley. It in the past additionally integrated Grand Junction. Though being not able to put on his college’s title in his senior 12 months, Ryder Rondeau stated the chance of ways aggressive Glenwood may well be is attractive.
“I’d definitely rather play at Aspen and have a varsity team, but it wouldn’t be competitive, and that’s the main thing with me,” Rondeau stated. “I’d rather be on a competitive team, that’s why I’d try out for Glenwood. I’d also play at Aspen on JV as well.”
It could be in opposition to CHSAA laws for a Roaring Fork School District college like Basalt High to play with out-of-district Aspen as a result of there may be an in-district choice, irrespective of geographic proximity, Glenwood Springs High Athletic Director Craig Denney stated.
Prior to Glenwood Springs getting a varsity group in 2018, their avid gamers traveled to Aspen to play, Denney stated. Now, Demons and Skiers will play in combination as soon as once more.
“It’s a tough spot, Aspen is in right now,” Denney stated. “We’re happy to help in any way we can. It will be different for sure, but it’s about kids playing.”
Denney noticed a identical scenario when he coached Glenwood soccer, gazing this system see numbers fall to some degree that warranted shedding to junior varsity. It’s already change into identical territory for the second-year Aspen AD Castrese as neatly, having watched the second one of 2 seasons of Skiers ladies basketball play junior varsity best, making ready for a go back to varsity this wintry weather season.
Castrese stated that, so far as he’s conscious, the basketball group didn’t ship varsity avid gamers to different methods — all avid gamers had been at the junior varsity squad.
Sending varsity avid gamers to a distinct college poses a novel problem to the rebuilding procedure: The basis of your rebuild, particularly upperclassmen, is not going to see the culmination of that exertions repay for their very own college. In flip, Aspen’s more youthful avid gamers received’t see the varsity-level skill inside of their very own roster. Castrese, then again, isn’t apprehensive in regards to the prospect of sending avid gamers to Glenwood Springs slowing the rebuilding procedure.
“I believe in the kids to show that they want to get back to that level,” Castrese stated. “I think they want to put their heart and soul into the revitalization of our hockey program.”
In Tuesday’s assembly, folks and avid gamers stated that Aspen Junior Hockey has expressed it has massive numbers in its 7th and 8th grade ranks, giving optimism to the concept that this system may well be restored to a aggressive point within the close to long run.
The trade additionally affects non-player staff — the varsity has but to title a substitute for Keith Howie, who led the group for two seasons. Castrese stated that there have an interest applicants however the hiring procedure was once placed on hang till the trail of this system was once finalized.
Schedules have now not but been launched for wintry weather sports activities, however CHSAA steerage displays that varsity hockey festival can start on Nov. 28.