<
>

New England Roundup: Rhode Island

1/25/2012

Buried amidst the rubble in Central Falls, which long ago filed for bankruptcy and has been under the direction of a state-appointed receiver, has been the fate of the coaches of the city’s lone high school.

Rhode IslandTo be precise, they’ve given new meaning to the words “volunteer coaches.”

Because of a budget freeze and ongoing contract negotiations between the city and the union representing teachers, Warriors coaches have been guiding their teams sans compensation.

That was true in the fall; it’s carried over to the winter sports season; and barring any change in developments the status will remain quo come the spring.

Ironically, Warrior teams have enjoyed an inordinate amount of success.

Coach Mo Jackson led CF to the Division IV Super Bowl in December.

Coach Rich Sousa took his girls’ volleyball team to the Division II semifinals.

Coach Carl Africo guided the boys’ soccer team to the Division I quarterfinals.

The other falls sports for which coaches weren’t paid are boys’ and girls’ cross country, girls’ soccer and unified volleyball.

CF’s winter sports include boys’ and girls’ basketball, wrestling, boys’ and girls’ track and unified basketball.

The spring sports slate includes only baseball and softball.

The 63-year-old Jackson, who’s the dean of Warrior coaches, didn’t learn about the lack of funding until midway through the football season.

“I was a little upset,” Jackson was quoted in The Times of Pawtucket. “But I wasn’t going to abandon the kids halfway through the season.

“I don’t know if I had known before the season started if I would have coached. After being here 20 years, I’d like the opportunity to make that decision. But you don’t get into (coaching high school sports) to make a lot of money.”

North Kingstown, to a certain extent, is in a similar position as Central Falls – although the South County town is far from bankruptcy.

However, it has a projected $1.6 million deficit for fiscal year 2013.

As a result, Superintendent Phil Auger is working on proposals that could include cuts that would impact Skipper high school teams.

BRONCOS STATE THEIR CASE

Burrillville has been playing boys’ hockey for 75 years and recently earned a commendable second-place finish in the Burrillville Education Foundation Tournament.

The Broncos waxed East Providence, a Division III school, 11-2 in the semifinals as Andrew Etheridge rifled home four goals.

Division I power La Salle, meanwhile, blanked another Division III school, Cranston East, 4-0.

Then, in the finals, the Rams shut out the Broncos, 2-0, on goals by Jason Delisle and Robert Fox.

The game was noteworthy because, on December 17, La Salle whipped Burrillville, 5-1. And this 2-0 setback was the closest Burrillville has come to beating one of the private schools in the championship Cimini Division.

Elsewhere, Mount St. Charles and La Salle staged a championship final that would have been worthy of a state tournament contest.

Steve Rocchio’s unassisted goal with 5:23 left in the third period gave the Rams a 3-2 victory over the Mount in the annual Christopher R. Brooks Scholarship Foundation Charity Game.

Mount defenseman Keith Phaneuf and La Salle goalie Chris Ryan were recipients of the Christopher Brooks Memorial Seventh Player Award.

The tournament has been held to honor the memory of the late Chris Brooks, who played hockey for Lincoln and was killed in a traffic accident several years ago.

Brooks was the son of former Boston Bruins goalie Ross Brooks.

PREPARING FOR KICKOFF

The Rhode Island Interscholastic League’s Principals Committee on Athletics has approved football alignment for the 2012 season.

Tolman was bumped up from Division II to Division I based on its performance in recent years. And South Kingstown, which has played in Division II, was granted its request to move up and play with the “big boys.”

The latter group includes Hendricken, La Salle, Portsmouth, Barrington, East Providence, Cranston West and Cranston East.

Again, the top four teams will qualify for the Division I Tournament.

A total of 16 teams will comprise Division II, which will be split into two eight-team subdivisions. Four teams from each subdivision qualify for post-season play.

The format is the same for Divisions III and IV, with each division including nine teams and the top four advancing to the playoffs.

NORTH OF THE BORDER

After beating up on New England teams, St. Andrew’s School of Barrington ventured to the 52nd annual Abbotsford Snowball Classic in British Columbia and came home with the championship trophy.

The Saints coasted in each of their three games, routing host Abbotsford Collegiate Secondary, 106-48; St. George’s, 88-48; and Kelowna (the No. 1 team in the region), 77-55.

St. Andrew’s center Cedric Kuakumensah, who has given a verbal commitment to Brown University, was voted the tournament’s MVP.

Back in Rhode Island, North Providence’s Austin VanBemmelen reached a milestone when he scored his 1,000th career point during an 82-65 Division II victory over Tiverton.

HONORS

Exeter/West Greenwich girls’ soccer coach Kevin Fraser recently pulled down a trio or accolades.

First, he was named the R.I. Small School Girls’ Coach of the Year.

Then, he was voted the New England Coach of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

Lastly, he was named the NSCAA/Mondo Girls’ Division II National Coach of the Year.

Under Fraser’s direction, the Scarlet Knights compiled a 21-0 record and won a second straight Division II state championship.

In a totally different sport, La Salle’s Molly Keating was voted the 2011 Gatorade Rhode Island girls’ cross country Runner of the Year.

Keating won her third consecutive state individual championship last fall and ran second in the New England Championships.

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.