May 25, 2020

Spotlight on Sports for April. School Sports, Youth Sports Shuttered

Townies Andrade RI Coach of the Year; Lyons in Track Hall of Fame

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The East Providence High School boys basketball program continues to receive accolades in a shortened season due to the Covid-19 pandemic gripping the world. Once the season had been officially declared over, some statewide awards were issued. The RI Basketball Coaches Association named Townie Head Coach Joe Andrade as a 2020 Division I Basketball Coach of the Year. All five starters on the team also received honors also. Andrade also won the award in 2017. R.J. Pina and Brian Taylor were first team All-Division I and second team all-league selections. Justin Pena, Josh Kauffman and Zach Russell were second team all-division.

“I definitely appreciate the award because it's your coaching peers who are voting. Obviously, it has been a good year even though it ended too early,” said Andrade. “This team was easy to coach, no discipline problems in or out of the classroom. It made my job easy and I appreciate that,” he added.

The season has been bitter-sweet as the most successful boys basketball team in some 20 years was hoping for a chance to play for the RI state championship. With its exciting 57-54 homecourt win over Cumberland High on senior night, the Townies boys basketball team had achieved the most wins in Division I play since 1979. East Providence has also played well in other seasons winning 12 times on five other occasions. The Townies were expected to handle Cumberland on senior night, but the Clippers had upset in mind when they outplayed EP and led at halftime 29-24. “We regrouped at the half and realized that we were rushing things. The team played better in the 2nd half and held on at the end,” said Townie coach Joe Andrade.

With the Townies struggling at times, Richard Pina kept them in the game with 21 points and several key rebounds and relentless play. Brian Taylor tossed in 10 points and Justin Pena had 8 key points. Josh Kauffman and Zach Russell each contributed 7 points for the Townies come from behind win. The Townie basketball fans have noticed the boys surge as each game is near capacity at the Townie gym.

In Division I playoffs EP knocked off a strong LaSalle team at LSA and made it to the state divisional final four bracket. Hendricken would eventually win that title. At that divisional final four game against Hendricken at CCRI, close to 1,000 or more Townie fans comprised a standing room only crowd on the Townie side of the fieldhouse to cheer on East Providence. “Hendricken played a very scrappy game and they got a lot of hustle points,” said East Providence head coach Joe Andrade. “We have to execute better on offense and do the little things teams like Hendricken does, box out and take a charge,” added Andrade after the game.

East Providence looked good in the opening minutes of the game but the Hawks played steady, was hot on offense and widened their lead in the second half, to which EP could not recover from. EP made a slight run late in the game cutting the deficit to 10 points but a third consecutive come from behind win was not in the cards. In the end, East Providence just missed too many shots and was out hustled by Hendricken. The Townies had three players reach double-digit scoring. Justin Pena (17), Brian Taylor (15) and Richard Pena (14).

Fans Restricted from Attending Playoff Game at EPHS
In their run to the open state championship, Before a mostly empty EPHS gymnasium on Thursday night, March 12th, the Townies dominated 20-4 Division 3 champion Lincoln High, 103-82. The fan-restricted game had officials allowing mostly parents to attend due to the coronavirus pandemic. Traditionally East Providence brings as many and usually more fans to interscholastic games as any school in Rhode Island, so it was certainly disappointing to hundreds of Townie fans that they could not attend the Sweet-16 basketball game. School officials arranged to have the game live-streamed so fans could watch at home. “Because tickets are limited for the Townie basketball playoff game vs. Lincoln, we are offering live stream coverage. Thanks to Asst. Superintendent Dr. Sandra Forand for organizing,” said East Providence Athletic Director Gregg Amore.

The game had a small crowd in the stands but players from both teams played with enthusiasm and didn’t hold back. East Providence, as they have done throughout the playoffs, started a bit slow and led at halftime 49-40. However, the Townies raced ahead in the second half to a blowout 21-point victory. A good portion of the second half saw many of the Townie non-starters in the game. All East Providence players saw action and were enthusiastically cheered on by the usual starters.

“Actually, I planned to play some guys off the bench to hopefully wear Lincoln down as I knew they only play 5 guys as a rule. I was hoping our size and depth would wear them down,” said EP head Coach Joe Andrade. “Late in the game I was able to get a few more guys in.”

East Providence Director of Athletics, Gregg Amore was also impressed with his basketball coach. “Joe has the respect of his players, his fellow coaches in the league and our school administration,” said Amore. “He is a very good X’s and O’s coach, but he also communicates well with his guys and that’s why he is a success,” Amore added.

Townies Bob Lyons chosen for RI Track & Field Coaches Hall of Fame
Longtime head coach of the East Providence Sr. High School boys track & field team, Bob Lyons, has been chosen for induction to the RI Track & Field Coaches Hall of Fame. Lyons has coached many All-State athletes, several of whom have held or continue to hold Rhode Island state records. Lyons has coached individuals and relays that have won championships at the New England Championships. He also coached Eric Osei, who earned All-American honors during his career as a sprinter at East Providence Sr. High School. Lyons 2013 team won the Rhode Island state team championship, one of only five East Providence teams to accomplish this feat in the school’s history. His teams have also won multiple Eastern Division championships during his tenure.

Lyons teams have finished in the top three, top five, and top ten on a consistent basis during his tenure as the East Providence boys head coach. His teams have also won many team titles at Rhode Island Invitationals. His 2018 team was awarded the team sportsmanship award. During his coaching career Bob has been honored by his peers who selected him as the Rhode Island coach of the year on multiple occasions. He was also voted the Northeast Region coach of the year and one of five finalists for the National Coach of the Year. He continues to mentor young coaches some of whom played for him at East Providence High School and his knowledge of the sport he coaches, continues to earn him the respect of his peers.

Tom Kenwood, chairman of the RITCA Hall of Fame Committee announced Lyon’s selection for 2020 induction. “We have taken a great deal of pride in selecting the finest coaches, officials, athletes, etc. to the Hall of Fame,” Kenwood told Lyons in his selection letter. While competing as a sprinter for East Providence Sr. High School, Lyons earned first team All-State honors in 1980 and 1981, he earned All-New England honors in 1980 and 1981 and was named an honorable mention All-American in both 1980 and 1981. In addition to these honors, he was a member of the East Providence High School 4x100 meter relay teams that broke the Rhode Island state record in successive years. Additionally, Lyons earned multiple All Class A and All Division honors and was the individual champion in the 100 and 200 meter at many invitationals held in Rhode Island and the New England region during his high school career.

“I am very honored and extremely appreciative for this honor and grateful for the all the great student-athletes I’ve had the pleasure to coach (and continue to coach), the wonderful people I’ve worked for (and continue to work for), and the people I’ve worked with through the years,” said Lyons. “There is no place I’d rather be coaching than at East Providence High School, a place that will always be near and dear to my heart.”

Lyons teams have finished in the top three, five and top ten on a consistent basis during his tenure as the Townies boys head coach. His teams have also won many team titles at Rhode Island Invitationals. His 2018 team was awarded the team sportsmanship award. Lyons has been honored by his peers who selected him as the Rhode Island coach of the year on multiple occasions. He was also voted the Northeast Region coach of the year and one of five finalists for the National Coach of the Year.

Townie Football Coach Monteiro to Retire
East Providence High School football head coach Jay Monteiro is retiring. He will stay on as an EPHS teacher. Monteiro has coached football at many levels. A former head coach at Martin Junior High moving on to be an assistant coach at EPHS where he was part of a team which played in six state championships. His Townie teams won four state championships in 97, 99, 02 and 03. The 1999 Townies were ranked number two in New England.

Monteiro also coached in three Rhode Island state all-star football games. For eight years he coached college Division 1 and 2 teams at Bryant University and Dean College. He returned to coach at EPHS for six years appearing in three Division One playoffs. Monteiro’s teams were always competitive, especially in the face of the Rhode Island high school recruiting scene.

“For the past 31 years I have been blessed to be able to coach the game that I have always had a passion and love for, football,” said Monteiro. “I have had the opportunity to coach many All Division, All Staters, All Americans, and Pro Athletes over the years. I have always tried to love and coach them hard like they were my sons. I have coached with many coaches throughout the years who to this day I call my friends,” added Monteiro.

Monteiro was shaken this year at the passing of his Dad. He and his players dedicated much of the year to his Dad’s memory. “My late Dad who was my rock, would always say to me, ‘give your kids what I could not give you.’ After all these years I figured it out - it’s time,” said a wistful Monteiro. “My dad was a truck driver and worked late hours and therefore was unable to make it to some of my games, so I have decided that it is time to hang up my whistle and retire from the game I love, to spend time with my family and have the opportunity to go watch my youngest daughter play her last two years of H.S. Soccer,” he said.

“Let me be among the first to say this is well deserved. You have been a blessing to my family. Not just a coach, but a mentor and friend. Thank you for all you have done for Jaren. I wish you nothing but health and happiness. Family is everything,” said Townie football parent Christine Alves.

“Thank you for your tireless dedication to the student athletes of East Providence. You are a class act. You are what you preached, family, hard work and character,” said EPHS Athletic Director and 1984 EPHS Monteiro classmate Gregg Amore.

Dozens of accolades and well wishes have been flooding social media as well as phone calls and notes sent to Monteiro. “Thank you, players, parents, and the East Providence School Department for all you have done for me,” said the coach.

Townies Name Jon Stringfellow as New Townie Football Coach
A new era of Townie football begins as the East Providence High School Athletic Department announced the hiring of Jon Stringfellow as head coach. In a March 24th press release EPHS Athletic Director Gregg Amore said that Stringfellow will succeed Jay Monteiro who retired two weeks ago as head coach. Jon Stringfellow is the son of legendary East Providence High School Football Coach and Athletic Director William Stringfellow and assumes his father’s mantle as head coach of the Townie football program six weeks after his dad’s passing.

“We are pleased to announce the hiring of Jon Stringfellow as the next head football coach at East Providence High School. Jon is a 1984 graduate of East Providence High School where he was a member of the Townie Football team. He is a 1989 graduate of the University of Rhode Island,” said Athletic Director Amore. Stringfellow was a long-time physical education teacher in East Providence before taking on his current role as a Dean of Students at EPHS.

“Jon was inducted into the Rhode Island Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2017 after what has already become a stellar coaching career that began as a varsity assistant coach at East Providence High School in 1991. He served in that role, taking on the titles of Defensive Coordinator in 1991 and Offensive Coordinator in 1996 and was an integral part of the coaching staff that led the Townies to two State Championships in 1997 and 1999,” added Amore. In 2002 Stringfellow became a varsity assistant coach at Bishop Hendricken High School and in 2007 was appointed as the Hawks head freshman football coach where his teams won a remarkable nine Division 1 Freshman State Championships. Stringfellow has been a featured speaker at football clinics throughout New England and is a well- respected member of the Rhode Island high school football coaches’ fraternity.

Amore welcomed Jon Stringfellow as the new head coach of the Townie Football program. “Jon’s work ethic, experience, temperament and pedigree all make him a perfect fit for this job. He is, like his dad, a family man and a man of great character. He will be an excellent teacher on the field and a superb role model for our student athletes. Jon has been and is an important part of our Townie family and we are thrilled to welcome him as our next head football coach” said Amore.

Stringfellow, a former Townie football player, said he is excited to run the program that he saw develop under his famous father’s tutelage. “My memories go back to that of when I was a 5 or 6-year-old laying under our dining room table watching my dad show football films on the wall to the players. I remember my mom feeding the players and coaches and all those years sitting in section 8 at Pierce Stadium watching Townie football,” said Stringfellow.

Stringfellow or “String” as he is known by many, will continue as Dean of Students at the high school. The 54-year-old said he is pleased to have the full support of high school principal Shani Wallace. “I discussed this with Principal Wallace and received her support in taking this job. She appreciates that I will be in a good position to oversee the players during as well as after the school day,” he said. Stringfellow also said that he has the full support of his wife and family. “We’re in this together. My main responsibility is Dean of Students. The after-school activities are just an extra plus as we help support our students,” the coach added.

For Townie fans it will bring back memories of those days when a Stringfellow roamed the EPHS football sidelines. East Providence has remained one of the most successful high school football programs in Rhode Island, something that Jon Stringfellow is very aware of. “We will compete and give the kids a good experience. I want them to win but I want them to have good memories, like the ones that have stayed with me through the years.”

All RI School Sports Halted
Thomas A. Mezzanotte, retiring Executive Director of the RI Interscholastic League has announced the suspension of all high school sports until further notice. Due to the coronavirus Pandemic, all Rhode Island schools are closed.

“Based on the report from Governor Gina Raimondo announcing that all public K-12 schools in Rhode Island will follow distance learning plans from March 23 to April 3, the Rhode Island Interscholastic League will further push back the start of the spring sports season. A new start date has not been determined.

The RIIL understands how important sports are to its student-athletes and will do whatever it can to salvage as much of the spring season as possible, while remaining in compliance with the guidelines set forth by the Rhode Island Department of Health and maintaining the health and safety of the Rhode Island community as its top priority.

The league strongly encourages everyone to adhere to the guidelines, especially those regarding social distancing, provided by Governor Raimondo and RIDOH to help limit the spread of COVID-19, including the following:

  • Stay home and avoid all non-essential crowds.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.

More information is available at the R.I. Department of Health website at: https://health.ri.gov/diseases/ncov2019/  as well as the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html  

“Again, the RIIL endorses the guidelines outlined by RIDOH regarding the current health crisis. The league will keep its member schools updated on any further developments and continues to ask for everyone’s cooperation. Please stay safe!” - RIIL –

City Youth Sports on Hold
Little league baseball, youth soccer and football among others, have their springtime activities on hold due to the pandemic that is gripping everyone. The ball fields are silent and the “crack of the bat” is nowhere to be heard. Even sandlot type games of kids are not allowed under the emergency declarations that prohibit gatherings on city playgrounds and ball fields.

A statement was issued by Little League Headquarters from Williamsport, Pennsylvania. “Little League International operates more than 6,500 programs in more than 84 countries, and therefore, we recommend that our leagues exercise an abundance of caution and implement a temporary suspension/delay of all league activities until no earlier than May 11. As information continues to become available regarding the increasing spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), we will provide our leagues and district administrators, with additional guidance on the implementation of the Little League® program in your local communities.”

A statement from Rumford Little League said, “Rumford Little League Families, we want to provide you with some updates and some useful information during this stressful time. We are a community and want what is best for everyone! We know that, joining together, we can get through this and have a great season. As of now, per the recommendation of Little League baseball, we are suspending league activities until May 11th. This will be re-evaluated weekly up until that date. We will keep you in the loop with any new information,” said the league statement.”

Riverside Little League also issued a notice to members which said, “Riverside Little League has cancelled all scheduled events as recommended by Little League International in response to the Covid 19 health emergency. This includes: Tryouts, Meat & LOBSTAH raffle and Clinics. We will keep everyone updated with changes.”

An EP Central League notice said, “Still feeling optimistic, please be patient as we continue to keep the best interest of your child in mind. Parents and fans can forward any inquiries to info.epcll@gmail.com . Thank you for your patience and understanding.”

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