Saying girls’ ice hockey is well-established in the area and should be treated the same as the boys’ program under Title IX, New Canaan district officials are seeking to start paying the team’s coaches.
Since it’s a club sport, the coaches for the New Canaan High School girls’ hockey program in the past have been paid by money raised by parents, First Selectman Rob Mallozzi said.
Now, as part of its budget request of the town for next year, the district is seeking $7,000 to pay the team’s head and assistant coaches. The payment must be approved by the Board of Finance and Town Council, with other allocations.
It’s a change that officials in New Canaan have considered for a couple of years, according to Athletic Director Jay Egan.
“We think that from an equity perspective it’s the right thing to do—‘right’ in that it [the program] has been organized for a sustained amount of time, has a schedule and we can’t assume there will be a critical mass [of girls’ high school ice hockey programs] in the state to give it varsity sports status,” Egan told Patch.
“This will make girls’ ice hockey completely aligned, with respect to town support, to the boys’ program, and looking strictly through a Title IX filter, we feel that is what we should do,” he continued.
New Canaan's girls hockey programs have been hugely successful, capturing recent FCIAC and state titles.
High School sports programs in the state are overseen by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, or “CIAC.”
According to Egan, that agency determines whether a sport is eligible for interscholastic status depending on how many programs exist in Connecticut and other factors.
It isn’t clear how many Connecticut ice hockey programs there are for girls. CIAC officials could not be reached for comment.
Egan said that there’s a concentration of girls programs in this area—specifically, in the geography covered by the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference, or FCIAC.
“The FCIAC is one of the pockets in the state where there are enough teams to have competition,” he said, adding that areas in greater New Haven and Hartford, as well as the Connecticut shoreline, also have teams.
The FCIAC recognizes girls’ ice hockey by providing programs with a schedule and championship, Egan said. Even so, statewide—given precious ice time and the sport’s high cost—it’s unlikely that enough different programs will launch to meet the CIAC standard for varsity designation.