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Heath Hotzler, Published February 26 2009

Spartans girls hockey team to bus back-and-forth

Fargo North girls hockey coach Dave Bjugson said Wednesday his team will adhere to a Fargo Public Schools request that all metro teams bus back-and-forth to Grand Forks for this week’s state tournament.

“We’ve conceded the battle,” Bjugson said.

Bjugson was prepared to seek parental releases for each of his players so the team could stay under his supervision at a Grand Forks hotel during the three-day event. North begins the tournament with a game against Dickinson at 12:30 p.m. today at Purpur Arena.

However, Bjugson said he was told if the students were released, the team would be without a charter bus for the tournament. That would have put the burden on the parents to drive their children to practices, games and team meetings throughout the tourney.

“We talked it over with the parents and the feeling was that it was probably too much to ask,” Bjugson said. “We started feeling like it would be like reverting backwards. We thought it would be better for the team just to say that we were busing back-and-forth.”

Bjugson and several North parents became miffed when they were informed last week by Fargo Public Schools that North and South teams participating in events within a manageable driving distance would be busing to-and-from the tournament site instead of staying overnight in a hotel.

Parent Jenny Berg, whose daughter, Kayla, plays for the North girls team, said Tuesday that parents were upset they weren’t told before plans were already made.

The kids would also miss out on a true state tournament experience, Berg said Tuesday.

Several North girls hockey parents came up with $1,000 to pay for the team’s hotel rooms to offset any costs to Fargo Public Schools.

Even so, Bjugson said he couldn’t justify putting the burden of transporting the players on the parents.

The Fargo South boys hockey team is traveling back-and-forth to the tournament on a separate bus.

“If the weather is questionable, we might stay overnight,” Bjugson said. “I told the girls to pack an overnight bag just in case.”

Hockey parents aren’t the only ones upset with the Fargo Public Schools’ request.

Stacey Griggs said Wednesday that many Fargo South swimming parents are going through the same thing. Griggs, whose son, Ben, is a standout in several events, said parents of swimmers at Fargo Public Schools were also notified that their athletes would be busing back-and-forth to Grand Forks for next week’s state meet.

“We would like to see everyone in the same place,” Griggs said. “We’re working on that right now. … If this is a new travel policy, it should have been instituted at an appropriate time, for example the beginning of next season or school year, so that coaches and teams would have an opportunity to understand the parameters and plan appropriately.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.

Hotzler’s blogs can be found

at www.areavoices.com