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Wednesday, April 20, 2011
New England Roundup: Rhode Island

By Mike Scandura

Rhode Island’s unemployment numbers are still in double figures.

Rhode IslandThe state is grappling with a budget deficit in excess of $300 million.

But if bill No. S 0438, which was introduced by Senator Louis P. DiPalma (his district covers Little Compton, Middletown, Newport and Tiverton), is passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Lincoln Chaffee, student-athletes would be included in a group that would take a “hit.”

The bill is named the “Payment for and Participation in School Activities Act of 2011.” Or to put it another way, it’s a pay-to-play bill.

DiPalma’s bill states in part “In view of the current economic climate, it would be beneficial to institute a policy where students from families who are capable of paying user fees for participation in extracurricular activities, while allowing flexibility for students from those families who cannot afford such payments.”

Obviously, the aforementioned extracurricular activities include sports.

DiPalma’s bill does exempt “students eligible for USDA reimbursable school meals” and allows “a family to petition for relief from such assessments based upon financial and / or other hardships.”

The fees would authorize school committees and boards of directors for charter schools to “assess students a reasonable fee for participation by a student in extracurricular activities provided that the governing body must first make a determination that the assessment of such fees is in the best interests of the school districts.”

Among other things:
The bill is still under debate in the General Assembly but without question is likely to draw more opposition if it even nears the stage where it’s put to a vote.

END OF A TENNIS DYNASTY?
Don’t look now, but South Kingstown’s dominance of Division I boys’ tennis may be nearing an end – especially if Barrington has anything to say about it. First, the Eagles handed the 12-time defending state champions their first loss since the 2007 season when it posted a 5-2 victory.

Barrington followed that up, and improved its record to 6-0 in the process, by breaking Cumberland’s 39-match winning streak by romping to a 6-1 victory. Veteran coach Dick Ernst’s Eagles have reached the Division I finals in three of the last four years only to lose each time to South Kingstown. The team is led by a sextet of seniors: John Bogdanovic, Chris Ferro, Mitch Brosnan, John Volpe, Erik Weber and Riley Schwengel.

“CATCH” FALCONS’ DIEHL
The last Rhode Island high school catcher who appeared on the radar screen of college coaches and pro scouts was St. Raphael Academy’s Chris Iannetta who now plays for the Colorado Rockies.

Cranston West’s Jeff Diehl is doing his best so far to emulate Iannetta.

In the Falcons’ recent 5-3 victory over three-time defending Division I state champion Hendricken, approximately 10 college and pro scouts were in attendance in Cranston – and Diehl didn’t disappoint.

Diehl, a senior, belted a single and a solo home run; launched another shot that was caught on the warning track in right field; and also scored on a double steal.

LA SALLE STICKMEN MAKE THEIR POINT
La Salle Academy’s boys’ lacrosse team delivered a loud-and-clear message to two-time Division I state champion Moses Brown when the Rams belted the Quakers, 19-11.

Ironically, this was a rematch of the 2010 championship tilt won by the Rams.

Brad Carlson (five goals, one assist), Brady O’Donnell (five goals) and Ryan Poirier (three goals, two assists) paced La Salle to this key, early-season victory.

ODDS ‘N ENDS
Mike Scandura has been covering high school sports, college basketball, football and hockey, plus minor league baseball in Rhode Island since the early 1970s. A native of Oswego, N.Y. he’s a member of the Words Unlimited Hall of Fame which is the statewide organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.