Pine City Athletic Director Rick Engelstad addressed the Pine City School Board on Tuesday evening about the recent development between the hockey program and the Mississippi 8 Conference stating that the hockey teams may be in jeopardy of losing their place within the conference if parent and fans behavior doesn’t improve. He said the conference has given the boys and girls hockey teams one year to improve their behavior.
He is calling a meeting together for parents and players of the hockey program on Wednesday, January 12 at 6 p.m. to be held at the Pine City High School auditorium.
“The conference said that they met as a conference and decided that Pine City is getting one more year to change parent and fan behavior,” said Engelstad in an emotional address to the board. “The parents and fans are going to have to make some decisions or they’re going to take this away from their kids.”
He added that there have been bodily threats made against a coach and what he said is “horrible language” that has been primarily picked up on video/sound livestreams.
“People don’t want to play us and refs don’t want to ref, not because of kids, but because of parents and fans behavior,” he said. “The behavior seems to be worse on the road. If we don’t clean it up, they’ll get rid of us.” He added that the kids’ language has gotten considerably better after action has been taken.
The Mississippi 8 Conference includes Becker, Big Lake, Cambridge-Isanti, Chisago Lakes, Monticello, North Branch, Princeton, St. Francis, Buffalo, and St. Michael/Albertville schools.
Jocelyn Rydberg, a hockey parent and school staff member who was also present at the meeting, noted, “It’s not everyone … there are some and they’re loud. I don’t want it to look like ‘you’re a hockey parent and you’re one of those.’ But we do need to address the inappropriateness and what image we want to portray.”
Engelstad added, “When it’s not everyone, others need to get involved and calm others down. We’re blessed to be in this conference.”
Former hockey parent and school employee, Nichole Laven, added, “We worked hard to get into Mississippi 8. There will be an effect long-term if we’re not in that conference with the level of play. We will lose a legacy and it will trickle down to the youth.”