Conant hockey on deliberative slate

Boosters, not taxpayers, would fund team

The push to create an ice hockey team at Conant High School has picked up steam after local parents and students gathered enough signatures to get a petition warrant article on the school budget. The proposal would create a cooperative hockey team with players from both Conant and Monadnock High School. Newt Lundsted of Rindge, along with his son, Conant High sophomore Parker Lundsted, spearheaded the signature gathering. Newt coaches his son on the Granite State Enforcers, a youth hockey program out of Fitchburg, Mass. According to Lundsted, there are 12 players from both the Monadnock and Conant school districts playing for the Enforcers, all of whom would likely join a cooperative team.

“I think there is a demand for the sport in the area,” Lundsted said. According to Lundsted, many kids playing youth hockey in the area are forced to travel to Westboro or Tyngsboro Mass. He believes that the distance makes it tough for people to go and see their kids play, and that all the traveling makes it hard to establish a fan base.

“Once kids get older, there is no place for them to go and play.” Lundsted said. “I’m hoping that there are lots of other people out there whose kids play.” The warrant article required 25 signatures, and was signed by over 150 people, according to Lundsted. If that flurry of support carries over to the budget vote, there is a “decent chance” that it will pass, according to Conant athletic director Rick Simoneau. “It’s always tough to gauge if these things will pass,” Simoneau said, “but people are pushing it pretty hard.”

The original proposal was for each school to contribute $14,000, but after reassessing potential costs, that figure has gone up. “We are now shooting for $22,000,” Simoneau said. None of the $22,000 figure would come out of the school budget, however; if the program is to move forward, the entire sum would be raised by the booster club for at least the first two years of the program’s existence.

“We would raise the funds, turn them over to the school, then the school would appropriate them as needed,” Lundsted said. “Once the team has been established for a few years, hopefully the school would take over and include it in the budget.”

Monadnock has already included the hockey program in their school budget.

“Monadnock already has a booster club established, they have already approved the warrant, they are all in,” said Lundsted.

Conant’s hockey warrant article will be reviewed at a deliberative session tomorrow evening in the Rindge Memorial Gym at 6:30 p.m.. Lundsted hopes to have both Simoneau and Monadnock athletic director Tom Stewart in attendance.If the warrant is approved, the goal is to have the program running in time for the 2014-15 winter season.

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