Apollo Activities Director Dave Langerud and Tech Activities Director Andrea Swanberg addressed the District 742 school board Wednesday night to discuss a possible merger of the schools' boys hockey teams.

"We understand this is a very passionate subject," Langerud said to a packed conference room of hockey parents and fans. "I want to make very clear, this is not what Apollo wants to do. We don't want to co-op."

"We will do this for two years, then re-evaluate," Langerud said.

Stating a desire to avoid rushing freshmen to the varsity level before they are ready, the ADs said they must make safety a top concern. In addition, the young players' mental well-being was also a concern among the ADs.

"What seniors and juniors say in the locker room is a little bit different than the freshmen," Langerud explained.

Apollo decided on co-oping with Tech because other area schools turned them down. The two concerns that were commonly raised were the fact that they would have to move up to Class AA, and that they would potentially have to cut players from their own rosters.

Langerud, who did most of the talking at the meeting, said that he talked to many of the returning Eagles players and indicated that they were all open to joining Tech, saying that they have known each other for some time.

Swanberg said that the move is still pending approval from the Minnesota State High School League, but that they already have approval from Section 8AA and the Central Lakes Conference.

The CLC would only schedule the team, or teams, if they were able to field both a varsity and junior varsity team, not just one or the other.

Swanberg also mentioned that the co-op would also appeal to remain in Class A, but that "nothing is guaranteed."

Langerud said that the problem of potential cuts is an issue, but it beats the alternative of cutting the program for a year or two.

"I'm sitting here saying, 'what do I do... for these kids if I don't have a program," Langerud said.

After the board suggested more public forums with parents, Langerud responded that this issue has been in the works for some time.

"For two years we have been talking about this. We have talked to youth hockey coaches. For two years we have talked with families," Langerud said. "This info has been out there for years. Now it's a big surprise it's going to happen?"

The Apollo AD went on to explain that Eagles coach Pete Matanich told him his only concern was for the well-being of the players.

"If Pete just wanted to keep his job, he'd have said no-no-no about this possibility. He just wants the best for the kids," Langerud said.

Earlier in the meeting Langerud explained that both Matanich and Tech coach Joel Heitkamp were both involved in the process, despite quotes in the paper claiming otherwise.

"I think they were misquoted in the paper," Langerud said, explaining that they were instructed to stay neutral and not offer an opinion, which led some to believe they didn't truly know what was going on.

The meeting was part of a work session, and not an actionable presentation. The issue is set to go before the board once again later this month.