SUPERIOR, WI- For years, it’s been schools like Superior and Hudson duking it out in the Wisconsin boy’s hockey sectionals.
But that will be coming to an end next season
Well, at least temporarily.
The WIAA has separated boys hockey into two divisions, splitting up Superior from many of Wisconsin’s big hockey powerhouses.
“At first I was ‘absolutely lets opt up’, there’s no question our rich tradition, the amount of championships, we’re the winningest team in the state of Wisconsin, we should be in division one. But then, when I heard some other perspectives I had talked long with Ray Kosey about this, and just kind of came to the conclusion that this might be the less permanent solution.”
Which is true, next off-season, the Spartans will have the ability to opt up to division one if they so choose.
“This really doesn’t change the face of Spartan hockey, it’s just the end destination, so our regular season stays the same, we’re still going to be a competitive program, and we just get through this season and we’ll re-evaluate at the end of the year,” said head coach Jason Kalin.
Kosey says one of the reasons the WIAA is going to multiple divisions is to break up co-op teams, giving smaller schools their own opportunities.
“I think what it does is give those smaller schools a chance to be a stand alone school now. No longer will you have to co-op with five or six community schools to play with the bigger schools. Now you have a chance maybe- lets just keep our small school. Ashland would be a great example of this, they’re actually division one because of the co-op with Maple, Northwestern, Hurley, all of that. They’re going to have to make a tough decision, are we better off dropping those co-op teams,” said Ray Kosey.
As for the division two Spartans though, there have been some upset alumni and community members, their sentiment is that Superior has already won 13 state championships– without the benefit of playing in a lower division.
“There’s the hockey purist that says WIAA hockey is Superior, we’re the best in the state and we’ll always be the best and we should play the biggest schools. But then there’s the other thought, that we’re in the WIAA, all of our programs are based on enrollment, we play in where we’re placed. Most of our schools are division one, football has been division two for several years now, so there’s that school of thought. Then hockey has changed in Wisconsin, I think it’s changed in Superior too, just our demographics. our enrollment has changed, so we’re looking at what’s best for our current students.”
Regardless of what anyone thinks though, the Spartans are committed to division two hockey next season, meaning they’ll have some high expectations as one of Wisconsin’s perennial powers.
“What people have got to realize is just to be patient with this decision. There is going to be a lot of pressure on our kids next year, I think it would be easier for them to be division one. They lose their first round of the playoffs, then they can say well we got beat in division one schools. Now, everyone is saying they’re going to hand the trophy over to Superior in division two. I don’t think that’s the way it’s going to happen, that’s a high expectation to put on our kids.”
So like it or not– only time will tell how these new changes will work out come next hockey season.
“We never want to take anything away from the rich tradition we have in hockey, and hopefully we’ll continue to win state championships based on our enrollment, and if it works well for us we’ll stay there. If we think we need to opt up, then we can obviously opt up in future years.