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May 16. 2014 11:24PM

John Habib's City Sports: Girls' hockey proposed for Manchester's public schools

The city that brought you the last two NHIAA Division I boys’ ice hockey champions is looking to start a high school pucks program for girls.

Chris Donovan, director of athletics for Manchester Public Schools, this week met with the city school board’s athletics committee to discuss a proposal to form either a cooperative team combining girls from Manchesters Central, Memorial and West or a single-school team comprising Central girls only.

“There’s interest in our school district for it,” said Donovan. “We have 33 girls, including seven who will be eighth-graders next fall, who want to play hockey.”

Donovan said he will seek approval from the NHIAA to start a co-op program next season, but he doesn’t expect to get it.

“The NHIAA frowns upon co-op programs, feeling it’s a disadvantage for other schools,” he said. “In the past, I know, Manchester has sought permission for other sports to start a co-op team, and the NHIAA said no. If that’s the case again, we’ll concentrate on starting a girls’ hockey program at Central. The majority of girls who said they wanted to play come from the Central district.”

Three of the 11 teams playing NHIAA varsity girls’ hockey this past season were from cooperative programs — including a team combing girls from Bishop Brady of Concord and Trinity of Manchester — but the schools participating in those partnerships have much smaller enrollments than the Manchester public schools.

Donovan told the athletics committee he would need an estimated $12,900 to fund a girls’ program.

“We’re talking uniforms, equipment, coach’s salary and transportation among other things,” he said.

“I told the committee that money would have to be added to my budget. The likely scenario for now, if this goes through, is for the parents and the community as a whole funding it.”

Donovan said he would like to see the program start as early as next winter, playing a junior varsity or club-level schedule.

“If we can’t start it next year, we’ll target the following season,” he said.

Last season, Donovan said, two girls played varsity boys’ hockey for Manchester West.

Donovan also hopes to add boys’ volleyball to the district’s offerings, if only as a club sport.

“It’s generating interest, especially at Memorial, and I’d like to start it as a club-level sport,” he said. “If I had my wish, I’d like our district to have the full complement of sports that the NHIAA offers, but it comes down to money and getting enough kids out to participate in them.”

A more immediate concern is filling eight coaching openings — for varsity boys’ soccer, and varsity and JV girls’ volleyball at West; for junior varsity field hockey, and junior varsity field hockey and girls’ soccer at Memorial; and for junior varsity field hockey at Central.

Interested candidates should contact Donovan at 624-6363, ext. 3112, between 7:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays.

Trinity has a new opening as well. Girls’ basketball coach Matt Courchesne has resigned so that he can devote his full attention to the city youth program he runs, according to Trinity athletic director Chip Polak. Persons interested in the job should contact Polak at 668-2910, extension 20.

“City Sports” is published Saturdays in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email staff reporter John Habib at jhabib@unionleader.com.


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