By Amanda Dronzek
Coming off of an incredible close to the fall sports season at EGHS, the winter sports teams have begun training and practicing for their upcoming seasons, making the best of what has been a difficult year for all athletes. With meets and games being postponed until January 20th, the teams have been anxiously awaiting to start competition.
It’s been 10 months since many of these athletes have gone out and played for the Avengers. In March of 2020, the boys hockey team planned to play in the state finals, hoping to clinch a championship for the first time since 2007. Due to the rapid spreading of COVID, the state championship game was cancelled, resulting in the crowning of both EG and SK state co-champions in 2020. Since their season was cut short, the hockey team has been practicing harder than ever to get ready for the chance to step out onto the rink again and make another run at a championship. As the season gets underway, I had the opportunity to speak with captain and senior, Jake Barron, who gave some insight to how the team’s been working in the off season and how they’re hoping to build the program with future players.
“Last year’s state championship was a very hard pill to swallow,” he said. After being offered to play D1 or remain in D2 for the 2021 season, the team chose to move up and play D1. “We know it’s going to be a lot harder than it was last year, and everyone has been preparing intensely for the season. It’s quite a large leap from a D2 hockey team to a D1 hockey program. All in all though, everyone is hungry to do well in D1, and who knows, we could get hot in the playoffs like we did last year.”
Being a veteran for the boys hockey team, Jake shared his gratitude to the team that has gone from worst to first throughout the past few seasons. “It’s been quite a journey the past three seasons, and we’ve jumped from bottom-of-the-barrel D2 to one of the strongest high school hockey teams in Rhode Island, so, although it’s sad, I have to say I’m very honored and grateful to say that my last season with EGHS hockey will be with the single handedly best hockey team in school history.” Planning to pursue an occupation in the business world one day, Barron hopes to attend Vanderbilt University for 4 years and possibly play club hockey in the south, keeping his beloved sport close to his chest.
Along with the boys hockey team preparing for the season, the girls Thunderbirds have also started their preparations for the year. Combining with Cranston, the EG girls hockey program has had ample time to get preseason workouts and practices in. In times where COVID was non-existent, the team would have begun the season right after Thanksgiving. However, given the circumstances, they were unable to start until January 1st. Captain and senior Rosa Caliri even added that the extra long period between soccer and hockey season benefited her in more ways than she thought. With time to progress as a player and keep up with her studies, the strange season proved to be much needed. “Having a co-op team with Cranston East and West is great. Going into the program as freshmen, I have met and played with girls from Cranston that I would still consider great friends even today. It is a great way to expose girls to this sport and also opens their social network outside of EG.” The team has provided students like Caliri with a chance to have friendships with kids from neighboring schools, something not all of us get to do. The team in the past has not been the strongest, however, Rosa firmly believes that at the end of the day, the bonds, games, practices, and team itself outnumber any record. Caliri said she plans on focusing more on her soccer career in college, as the former goalie for the Avengers girls soccer team. With a championship on her side, she’s hoping to play at the college level and major in health science.
Not only did the Avengers boys hockey team go through a shocking ending to an unbelievable season, but the boys and girls basketball teams also had their state tournaments cancelled due to complications with COVID. The girls basketball team unfortunately fell just short of a further placement in the tournament, with Scituate advancing after clinching the division. This season, the girls have practiced and gotten into shape to try and go all the way, or as far as they can with COVID on their backs.
Coming off the bench this season, the girls basketball team hopes to take the season as far as they can go given COVID restrictions. Captain Sofia Bianco, shared her excitement for her final season as an Avenger. “This year is extremely important to me as it is my senior year, but the camaraderie of our team is just amazing. Growing up on the team has been amazing and I have formed so many awesome friendships with all grades.” After last year’s loss in the division tournament, Bianco wants to make the most of this year with her teammates, some of whom she’s been playing with since 5th grade. “I’m just really grateful I got to grow up playing basketball with them along with sharing my high school basketball career with them. So, I’m looking forward to making it a great last year and giving it my all for my team and the other seniors!” The enthusiastic nature Sofia has brought to the court has inspired the team for the season as they prepare to play with her one last time. After graduation, Bianco hopes to attend a 4 year college in the D.C. area and study in Global Health or Chem, while majoring in French or English. Her biggest goal: to help create new cures and medications to help the world’s ongoing fight with disease.
In March of last year, the boys basketball team prepared for the state tournament, hoping to kick off the back half of the year with a championship. Because of COVID, the tournament was cancelled, motivating the team to make the most of their 2021 season. Although there is no state championship and the season has been sliced in half, the Avengers are still looking forward to getting back on the court. Senior Jack McMullen, last year’s top point scorer, shared his thoughts on his final season. “I am just really excited we are going to have a season, it looked doubtful a month ago. For me personally, I have loved my last 3 years creating new relationships and memories. Winning a state championship as a sophomore and beating the third overall team in the state playoffs as a junior before getting our season cut short has made basketball the most memorable thing for me at the high school.” Jack has been playing with some of his teammates for 10 years, this last season becoming the end of an era for many of the players. McMullen said that due to COVID, the team has had to practice at the YMCA, rec centers, and even outside pickup games just to get reps in. In his words, “We really had to make the most of what we had. But again, a short season is better than no season.” Following high school, Jack plans to attend a D3 college and play basketball, golf, and football if the opportunity arises.
2020 was definitely a year of sports for EG, especially for the indoor track and field teams. The girls track team finished third and the boys coming in second at their fall national championships. In just one year, the team went from being nearly in last place to finishing in the top 3, completely turning around the program. With the number of athletes increasing, the team blossomed and continued to train in the offseason leading into the 2021 meets. Senior and captain Jack Lombardi, who runs Cross Country in the fall and competes in the mile and 1500 in the indoor track season for East Greenwich committed to run D1 at Merrimack College and majoring in Health Sciences, Lombardi has had quite the impressive high school career. “I truly don’t think I could have asked for a better group of teammates and coaches to grow up with. My coaches have definitely pushed me to become who I am now, along with being supportive along the way. For that I am very grateful for, and wish most kids got the same running experience like I did.” Throughout his time running indoor track, Jack found the mile to be a perfect balance that would adhere to his skillset. “I think I prefer track over XC because I like doing faster paced runs and less mileage compared to XC.” Lombardi said he isn’t the biggest fan of the 800 or the 3k because it would require sprinting the track for longer distances. He also preferred running the mile due to the advantages of not having to sprint full out the entire distance. As for the future of running in general, Jack has said he’d love to one day coach a little bit of any sport, for its impact on his life has been everlasting.
Another upcoming graduate from the EGHS Track team is captain Jessie Martin. After running with the team for the past 3 years, Martin has found a second family with her fellow teammates. “I have made some of my best friends through running for the high school, and it has been amazing to see how far everyone has come since we started. There’s nothing better than seeing your teammates improve and go on to do awesome things.” Being a part of the running community since freshman year, Jessie has run XC and indoor track, experiencing newfound relationships and competing at a state level. Her main events for track are the 1500 meter dash, an event also run by Jack Lmobardi. “I found it to be the one I was best at since it’s not too long that it gets boring, but not so short that it’s an all out sprint.” Coming from a background of running hills and long distances in cross country, both Lombardi and Martin have brought their appreciation for longer distance competition rather than sprinting all out to the track. Martin has also competed in the 800m relay, which she has become very fond of over time. Being able to compete with her own teammates has been an eye opening experience for her and has set the tone for this 2021 season to come out stronger than ever. This season, Martin has been working on improving her speed and preparing to race for the final time in her high school career. After high school, Jessie plans to study marine biology somewhere near the beach at a 4 year college. She also hopes to commit somewhere for running, taking her sport all the way into adulthood.
From a field hockey championship in the fall and now diving into the water one last time, senior and co-captain Genevieve Cava along with the rest of the EGHS swim team have prepared themselves for their upcoming meets in 2021. Last year, the girls swim team finished 7th overall at states and the boys team finished 17th overall for the season. “We lost a lot of seniors from the year before but still managed to hold our own at D1 Divisions and States. This year so far is looking really hopeful with a few very strong swimmers joining the girls team. Our boys team is definitely an underdog team, but they bring a lot of passion and spirit which never goes unnoticed in and out of the water,” Cava said. Cava also added that the team gained some very strong female swimmers, who can build up the program when the seniors leave. “This isn’t the ideal senior season but we are all making the best out of it and enjoying the last few months we have together. My favorite part about growing up with my teammates over the last three years is definitely watching how we have all grown both in and out of the pool. It’s also super exciting to meet the new people who join the team every year and add them to the dynamic of the team.” Working to improve in the water and growing closer throughout the years has greatly influenced the success of the team, who are hoping to rank even higher for the division if all goes well. Genevieve closed out her interview by saying she was planning to attend a 4 year college, majoring in the Arts and Science, probably in the medical field or biology. However, senior Grace Sheridan is planning to continue her swimming career and attend the University of Maine as a member of their D1 swim team.
Although every sports season this year has been nothing short of difficult, the Avengers have persevered through it and kept in shape for their upcoming competitions. The outlet that sports provide for students is one that can give them a second family and a tight knit group of people to spend their high school days with. COVID has taken plenty from the students and their athletic careers this past year, and it’s crucial that that doesn’t happen again. With the proper precautions and the undying spirit from each and every athlete that walks through the building every day, the 2021 winter sports season will be a memorable year for all.