2021-22 Winter Sports Preview

by Amanda Dronzek

2021 is coming to a close, and winter sports are ramping back up at East Greenwich high school. Since the COVID epidemic, high school winter sports have not had a full season since 2019. Concerns of a second COVID surge are in question, but high school sports are in continuum until further notice. Following Thanksgiving break, EG’s athletes have begun extensive training for a full 2021-2022 season. The fall of 2021 closed with a three peat by the EGHS girls Division I field hockey team, and the Avengers have more work to do. 

Back on the indoor track are the sprinting and distance teams, led by captains, Nate Plympton, Nicole Cretella, Jacob Connolly, Sadie Moore, Lexi Scott, Kendall Stearns, Evan Berthiume, and Lola Balkcom. Senior and sprinter Nate Plympton gives insight on the upcoming season. “With all of the new runners that we have gained, our team has more depth than I’ve seen in all of my years on this team.” Plympton sees strong contenders in his teammates, anticipating a successful indoor season. Plympton, along with head coaches Ken Topalian and Erin Terry, are hoping to “establish strong connections with the younger students, and create an encouraging environment for everyone.” Plympton beams, “There is no team that I would rather have for my last year at EGHS than this one.” Given the Avengers’ consistent effort on and off the track, Plympton and his fellow captains can expect a strong effort from their tight-knit team.

On the court, the EGHS girls basketball team returns with a young group of talent. Senior captain Lila Somvanshi awaits another season filled with success, eager to, “have enough time to build a bond and truly play as a team.” Playing in D1 offers new challenges for a growing program, but Somvanshi and the coaching staff remain confident that their team is “not to be underestimated.” Senior captain Molly Johnson, also holds high hopes for building a championship club. Through the summer of 2021, the EGHS basketball team has been heavily involved with the East Greenwich Basketball Association (EGBA), which allows highschool students to coach the youth leagues. In time, the girls’ head coach, Dave Maccarone, envisions a program that will bring success to EGHS for years to come. For now, the seniors can relish in their last months of high school basketball. “I wouldn’t want to play my last year with a different group of girls,” Somvanshi says. The Avengers are looking to make a run for the playoffs, savoring every moment along the way. 

In March of 2021, the EGHS boys basketball team played their way into the semifinals. This season, they’re shooting for a championship. “It is a big challenge for us but something I think we have prepared for and are ready to take on,” senior captain Owen Drolet remarks. Head coach Dave Gee brings a young team into Division I, many who have never played in the presence of high school crowds.  Despite a new atmosphere, Drolet believes his team has, “the chance to be successful this year.” Beyond the court, Drolet plans to pursue communications or sports management, making his last year, “bittersweet.” Captains Chad Coppola, Jonah Hill, and Troy Caron agree that “they wouldn’t want to do this with anyone else.”

The boys wrestling team steps back onto the mats this December after a hiatus. Tune in this season to see the boys’ hard work on display. 

The EGHS swim team jumps back in for another season, now in Division II. In 2020, the girls swim team, currently led by senior Audrey Kling, went undefeated, proudly returning to the Avengers campus as the state runner up in Division I. Kling is aiming to repeat last year’s success, eager to take a shot at the state championship. “I love this team, and can’t imagine my life without it,” Kling exclaims. Hoping to bring the boys team to victory, senior captain Kyle Chen is working with Kling to create a friendly environment for new and experienced swimmers. Chen and Kling are itching to get back in the water with new competition, and a chance to represent maroon and white one last time.

East Greenwich high school takes to the ice once again, as the Thunderbirds enter a rebuilding year. Combined with Cranston east and west, this co-op team brings talent from three districts in Division I. “We will only continue to improve from the start of the season, and hopefully that improvement will carry into following seasons,” junior captain Ava Gallonio remarks. Gallonio’s objective is to merely introduce the game to first year players, and establish a program that appeals to first time skaters who are interested in girls ice hockey. “With a young group, it is essential to just work on the basics and improve from there. As the season continues, it will become more natural for them.”

After two consecutive seasons strongly impacted by COVID complications, the EGHS boys hockey team is on a mission for a title they’ve worked for since 2019. Captains Charlie Gaffney, Cam Gaffney, and Matthew McKenzie bring a talented club to Division I. “I feel like we never really got a chance to show our teams’ true potential and what we are really capable of,” senior Charlie Gaffney explains. The Avengers have fallen short of a championship before and the atmosphere around the rink is unlike any other season. “There is definitely a sense of urgency,” Gaffney adds. “If there is any year for East Greenwich to win the hockey state championship, it’s this year.” The stakes are rising by the day, as the Avengers continue to impress in the early stages of their season. Gaffney awards much of the team’s previous success to the elite coaching staff. Don Dunwoody, Chris Omicili, and Gaffney’s father, Charlie Gaffney, plan to take their team to the next level, climbing from Division II, to the top of Division I in under two years. “The strong leadership and coaching creates a good team culture that encourages and rewards hard work,” Gaffney praises. Players are drawn to EG’s past success, with hopes that the streak will continue in years to come. “Everyone knows that this may be the last real shot we have at the state championship and everyone wants to win.” Gaffney prides his team on their dedication and discipline, explaining, “the talent that we have means nothing without it.” All eyes are on the Avengers, as they step onto the ice with something to prove. 

More from our EGHS student athletes to come.