WATERLOO — A family’s request to allow their son to keep playing hockey has resulted in the Waterloo School Board approving the high school joining the DeForest High School boys hockey co-op.

According to Waterloo Athletic Director Dave Frisell, who presented the proposal at the July 12 school board meeting, the family making the request resides in the Waterloo School District. Their sons have been playing with youth hockey leagues in Sun Prairie and would like to continue with the sport. The oldest boy, who will be a sophomore in the coming year, would need to join a high school-affiliated team in order to keep playing the sport as he’s aged out of the youth program.

The family wishes to continue to stay in the Waterloo School District; however, according to Frisell, if the hockey co-op were not an option the family would consider enrolling their children in the Sun Prairie School District so they could try continuing to play the sport.

Frisell said the DeForest co-op already has skaters from Lodi, Poynette, Columbus and Lake Mills in addition to resident students.

According to the athletic director, the cost per student to participate in hockey is $1,500. The school board agreed to fund 20% of the price with the family responsible for the remaining $1,200. The family also needs to provide transportation for their child.

“We thought if we placed more of the financial burden on the families who wanted to maybe join a co-op we would only get serious requests from people and not just a random request to join a sport without thinking it through first,” Frisell said.

Board Vice President Kate Lewandowski inquired what the impact would be to the athletic department budget and also how the school would be able to ensure there is equity among any students who wished to join the co-op given how expensive the sport is.

District Business Manager Susan Gould has budgeted in a small amount of money for having a student join the co-op but has not factored in the overall cost if more students choose to participate in the sport.

As for hockey being cost prohibitive for some students, District Administration Brian Henning said in the past when youth want to participate in a school-sponsored sport but could not pay the athletic fee, the Waterloo Booster Club has offered a “scholarship” to alleviate the cost burden. He believes this could also be done for hockey; however, Lewandowski pointed out there is a large price gap in paying for an athletic fee and the cost of hockey.

During the current school year, the sophomore would be eligible to play on the DeForest junior varsity co-op team without Waterloo officially signing on to the co-op. The deadline to apply to join a winter sports co-op is in the spring.

Board member Jim Setz said offering boys hockey through the co-op, which needs to be renewed annually, could attract families to the Waterloo School District.

“It would be nice to give options to kids to pursue things they love to do,” Frisell said.

With the board’s decision to approve the boys hockey co-op, the district will now be required to add another girls sport at the high school to comply with Title IX, which requires boys and girls be provided equal opportunities to play sports.

High School Principal Shawn Bartelt said the school has tossed about the idea of having a girls swim team co-op with Watertown High School, adding many of the girls in the lower grades have expressed an interest in competitive swimming.

Frisell said the school has no immediate plans for an additional girls sport “until we get an idea if there is an interest in one. We will look to co-op if that sport is not currently offered, or we don’t have the facilities or resources to offer it.”

If Waterloo High School would offer a girls co-op sport, the cost would also be split 80/20 with the family responsible for the majority of the price.

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