CENTRAL VALLEY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Players and parents at a local high school are fighting to keep varsity ice hockey in play.
As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, the hockey team Monroe-Woodbury High School in Orange County won the championship a decade ago. But things change.READ MORE: Events Across NYC Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day
“If I had it my way, I wouldn’t take anything away,” said school Supt. Elsie Rodriguez. “But we’re in very difficult times.”
The school administration is proposing an end to the 30-year-old varsity ice hockey program, citing expenses and shifting priorities. The news hit like a slapshot.
“Yeah, they can do what they want — they’re the school district,” said goalie Don Dorney. “But it’s not fair.”
“Taking this sport away is like taking their hearts away, because like, it’s all they want and all they love,” said team captain Nicholas Pelosi.
But the love of late has been less universal than it once was. Neighboring schools have skated away from the game.
Monroe-Woodbury is now the only school ice hockey team in its state section – Section 9.
“We have to look at the interest in the area; the interest in our school, and we’re looking for maximum participation,” said school athletic director Lori Hock.READ MORE: Students In Seton Hall Leadership Program Carry On Principles Of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The team travels more than most. Home ice is up in Newburgh, and the nearest opponents are a healthy hike. Most are on the other side of the Hudson River in Westchester County.
And then there are budget issues.
“We have a 2 percent tax cap. We have 18 percent health care insurance going up for the district,” Rodriguez said. “That money is being reallocated. We’re going to be introducing two new lacrosse modified teams – girls and boys — and a freshman football team.”
It is that last part that rubs hockey parents the wrong way.
“It’s not that the money’s not there,” said parent Steve Pelosi. “They’re trying to reappropriate the money from this program to something else.”
And the seniors are mad, but it is tougher on the younger players.
“Yes, it hurts,” said right wing Ryan Urtz. “I can remember when I started all the way up. When the cold weather comes around that’s what it is — hockey.”
The school superintendent has scheduled a meeting for Monday to talk with the parents about the situation. She said she needs $63,000 to save the program.MORE NEWS: 15-Year-Old Girl Killed In Suspected Hit-And-Run On Brooklyn Street
If Monroe-Woodbury drops the sport, three of the 11 sections in New York state will have no varsity ice hockey.