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Hagerstown North Stars High School Hockey Club in its first year

November 08, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Mitchell Sirface says nobody would make the mistake of calling Hagerstown a hockey town.

But the North Hagerstown High School junior and 17 of his teammates took the ice Wednesday for the first official practice of the newly formed North Stars High School Hockey Club.

While the club is in its first year, coaches say they have high hopes of expanding hockey to several of the county's high schools. This year, they have requested that the team be affiliated with Washington County Public Schools.

Edward Masood, the school system's director of arts, health, physical education and athletics, says that could be impossible.

North Stars is the only high school hockey club in the county, according to team coaches. Except for the short-lived team that formed more than one year ago, coaches Jamie Blackwood and Brett Dennis said area players have had to go to Frederick or farther to play high school-level hockey.

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John Weber, a senior at Saint Maria Goretti High School, is the team's captain and goalie. He said he believes the team will have a successful, challenging season.

There is a youth league in Hagerstown in which many of the North Stars players compete. John said that he has played with many of his teammates in the youth league and on other teams.

North Stars is a member of the Maryland Scholastic Hockey League.

Affiliation with the school system would give the players more recognition from their peers and a platform for advertising their games on the morning announcements at school, Blackwood said. The team also could post its schedule at the schools and use a school's weight room.

Blackwood requested in August that the team be recognized as a Washington County high school hockey club team. In a letter to Masood, Blackwood asked that the hockey team be viewed as an extracurricular club activity, similar to the drama club.

Masood said that the school system's secondary school athletic association voted not to include the team as an interscholastic athletic team. He said the team is ineligible for that status because the students come from different high schools.

"They want recognition as an interscholastic high school athletic team operating under the auspices of one school, and that's something we can't agree to," Masood said. "You can't have a kid representing a high school team, or a high school group, that doesn't go to that school."

Because North Stars is not affiliated with any of the schools in Washington County, it cannot represent a high school, use school colors or get recognition in the school yearbook, he said.

Dakota Durning, a North Hagerstown High School junior who plays left wing for North Stars, said he would like the team to be affiliated with the school system.

"More people would come if they announced when our games were," he said.

Alli Zube, 17, is a senior at Williamsport High School and says she already has many friends who want to watch her play as a member of the North Stars High School Hockey Club. Alli is the team's assistant captain.

Mitchell, Dakota and Zach Kimmel, a South Hagerstown High School freshman, said players have handed out small postcards with the team's schedule for the season.

It includes 12 games against teams primarily in Frederick County, Md. The team's first game is Dec. 3 against Walkersville (Md.) High School.

Though the team is just beginning its first season, Dennis said he would eventually like to see at least three large high schools in Washington County have their own club hockey teams.

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