West Hartford’s Kingswood Oxford School has decided that it will keep a hockey program in place for its Upper School boys and girls, but will run the program at an offsite location beginning in the 2016-17 school year.
By Ronni Newton
Kingswood Oxford School’s “2020 Vision” – a master plan for the future of the private school’s West Hartford campus that was announced in late 2014 – includes plans for repurposing the 35-year-old Brayton Ice Hockey Rink into a field house and fitness center, but rather than phasing out the school’s boys and girls hockey programs as originally announced, KO will maintain hockey at an offsite location.
After concerns arose about eliminating hockey at KO, the Board of Trustees formed a committee to explore the option of an offsite hockey program to accommodate the sport beginning in the fall of 2016, when the rink has been transformed. On Feb. 12 the board voted to accept a proposal made by the Offsite Hockey Exploratory committee to keep the sport KO, but to hold practices and games in an offsite arena.
According to a news release from KO, the families will bear some of the cost for running the hockey program, with an estimated cost to participants of between $1,000 and $2,500 depending on the number of hockey players. Head of School Dennis Bisgaard said the school would continue to hire and pay the salaries of hockey coaches.
Trustee Bruce Mandell ’82 and Karen Jarmoc P ’14, ’14, ’17, co-chaired the offsite hockey committee, and presented the pay-to-play proposal developed by the committee during four meetings held in January and February.
“I’m really excited that the KO community rallied to find a creative solution to continue hockey,” Mandell, who is also co-vice chair of the Board of Trustees, said in the release. “Being able to offer student-athletes a varsity hockey experience in the best day school environment in Greater Hartford is a winning combination that no other school can match.”
“The Board’s decision to support the continuation of a hockey program is a positive one,” said Jarmoc in the release. “Our committee’s recommendation involved a series of strong and sustainable opportunities for hockey at KO to include pay-to-play, terrific league options, and the establishment of a KO Hockey Fund. Our committee looks forward to working with the school administration, board, and the KO community to advance the sport and embrace the upcoming changes to the program.”
Jeff Streett, KO ’80, who along with his brother played hockey for the Wyverns and has a son who is currently a freshman in the Kingswood hockey program, was one of the most vocal critics of the school’s plan to repurpose the rink and phase out the sport. After learning of the plan to eliminate hockey at KO, Streett started the Save Kingswood Hockey Facebook page as well as a petition to save the program.
Streett said that he is very happy that Kingswood Oxford will keep the hockey program.
“I am very pleased that the Board of Trustees recognized the passion from all those involved, and working with a committee was receptive to listening to members of both the Kingswood and West Hartford communities who asked them to revisit their initial decisions,” Streett said.
Bisgaard said he is grateful that the committee spent the time and found a way to make this work for all parties. “KO is fortunate to have a community filled with people who care enough to express their passion and voice, who want to be involved, and who understand that KO listens,” said Bisgaard in the release.
“Ultimately they figured out a way for the student-athletes to continue playing the sport they love. Without a doubt, the lessons learned on the ice supplement those learned in the classroom and are an integral part in developing our children into well-rounded youg adults,” said Street.
The location for the offsite program has not yet been identified, but there is plenty of time to work that out since the KO rink will remain in use for the teams during the 2015-16 season, and a different location won’t be needed until the fall of 2016. According to KO, details about the rink and the game schedule will be determined in the coming months. The cost of pay-to-play will be determined before each hockey season begins, and may be offset by fundraising.
Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!