Rhode Island Interscholastic League sports continues to be on a roller coaster ride due to the Covid 19 Pandemic. Now that fall sports were all curtailed with a few exceptions, it is the winter sports whose scheduling is in question. The Governor’s “pause” lasted for three weeks and ended on December 20, 2020. According to state officials, “the Pause was implemented to keep COVID-19 hospitalizations below hospital capacity limits and to reduce community transmission of COVID-19 by significantly dialing down overall mobility and reducing social gatherings.” The Rhode Island Interscholastic league for boys and girls sports states that the Governor will allow for low and moderate risk winter sports to begin practicing on January 4, 2021: basketball, gymnastics, ice hockey, indoor track & field and swimming. Football, wrestling and other close contact sports are still on hold except for some minor practicing.
The state guidelines for schools further said that “students in pre-school through eighth grade should continue in-person learning. Districts have been given the flexibility to implement limited opening plans for high schools. The updated unified calendar, recently published by the Rhode Island Department of Education, provides superintendents with additional flexibility to implement their distance learning plans if they determine it is necessary to do so just before or after the winter break. All schools should still be offering in-person learning options for multi-lingual learners and differently-abled students. Parents and guardians should consult their student’s school district website and other communications for further detail. Following the holiday break, schools should begin returning students in-person by January 7, 2021. All students should return to in-person learning no later than January 15, 2021.”
East Providence Athletic Director Gregg Amore is busy juggling all of the changing local and state guidelines for the hundreds of high school and middle school student athletes anxious to return to competitive sports. “Our athletes will participate in boys and girls basketball and indoor track, as well as swimming and gymnastics this winter. It will be the first time we have actually had a gymnastics team since the 70s,” replied Amore. “There will be a new hockey co-op with Mt. Hope HIgh set to begin after 2 years with Moses Brown. Swim is virtual. Our athletes swim alone and compare the times to a team swimming at their home pool at the same time. We will attempt to show all the games at our gym on YouTube as we will be restricting attendance to our senior parents only,” added Amore.
East Providence High boys and girls basketball programs will be starting up in January unless the Rhode Island Health Department and Governor notice a significant uptick in the number of Covid cases. Townie boys basketball coach Joe Andrade, returning RI Coach of the Year, is trying to balance the team practice and schedule with Covid restrictions. “It’s a difficult time, but we are doing our best,” said Coach Andrade. The Townies are coming off a tremendous 2019-20 season when they made it to a packed house at CCRI in Warwick for the semi-finals. Earlier last year, EP upset LaSalle in overtime to reach the semis. Entering statewide playoff action, the pandemic abruptly cut the season short.
The 2021 season has Division 1 set up with 17 teams. “We are in the North East with Mount Pleasant, LaSalle, Barrington, Shea, Cumberland, Woonsocket, Smithfield and PCD. We’ll crossover and play NK and Classical,” said Andrade. The other half of the league is the south; N. Kingstown, Hendricken, Cranston East, Classical, Central, S. Kingstown, Narragansett and Westerly. The four top teams in each division may make the playoffs.
The league will require players to wear masks and to celebrate less with as much social distancing as possible. Coaches are encouraged to keep “pods” of 16 and not “swing” players between junior varsity and varsity. The Townies final roster isn’t set yet but after losing 7 seniors from last year’s squad, coach Andrade will have returning All-State caliber senior Brian Taylor and also Chris Vieira and Ilyas Torres. Sophomore max Collins and exciting freshman Trey Resendes will also join the team. Resendes led Riverside Middle School to the MS championship game last season.
“I’m trying to add a non-season game in this shortened schedule and get our guys prepared. We are a very young team and I will have to play these guys. We will be prepared as best as we can and the players should get valuable experience for next season also,” said the coach. When asked about overall potential, the mild-mannered coach repeated a phrase he used at last years playoff. “Oh, we’re here to play and here to win.”
EPHS Boys Schedule To Date:
Jan 15 6:00PM EP at Mt. Pleasant High School
Jan 18 7:00PM EP at Tiverton High School
Jan 23 TBD La Salle Academy at East Providence High School
Jan 25 TBD at Cumberland High School
Jan 27 TBD at Woonsocket High School
Jan 29 TBD Barrington at East Providence High School
Feb 2 TBD Providence Country Day at East Providence High School
Feb 4 7:15PM at Smithfield High School
Feb 6 TBD Shea High School at East Providence High School
Feb 10 TBD at North Kingstown High School
Feb 12 TBD Classical High School at East Providence High School