Add the names of Eddie Markowski, Maddy Berkson, Shane Lagor and Sean Reddy to the long list of high school athletes and coaches that have been honored by Words Unlimited, Rhode Island’s organization of sportswriters, sportscasters and sports publicists.
Each member of this quartet will be honored on February 16 when the organization holds its 68th annual awards banquet – one of the oldest of its type in the country.
Markowski, the Schoolboy Athlete of the Year, graduated last spring from Hendricken. He earned Second Team All-State honors in hockey and First Team All-State accolades in baseball. In addition, Markowski also was voted the Most Valuable Player in the Division I Baseball Tournament which the Hawks captured by beating North Kingstown in the finals.
Markowski gave a premonition of things to come in the semifinals when he belted a home run in the third and deciding game of the best-of-three semifinal series against Johnston.
Berkson was voted the Schoolgirl Athlete of the Year after a stellar track and field and cross country career at Classical. She’ll be attending Stanford next year on a scholarship.
Berkson earned All-State honors in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. In the process she led Classical to a share of the 2013 outdoor state track title, sole possession of the 2013 outdoor championship and a third-place finish in the cross country championships.
Not only did she excel at middle and long distances but during the last indoor season, she attempted the long jump and recorded a distance of 19 feet, 1 inch which was three inches shy of the state record that’s stood for 28 years.
Berkson’s loyalty to her team was never more evident than last winter when she passed up an opportunity to participate in the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix which is a qualifier for the prestigious Millrose Games. But because the Grand Prix fell on the same date as the Class A championships, she opted to stay home and run for the Purple.
“The team is really tight-knit,” said Berkson. “I wanted to be there for them.”
Among other things, she captured the 600-meter run and anchored a victorious 4x400 relay team which helped Classical finish second overall in the team standings.
In retrospect, her greatest victory was the message she sent to her teammates by opting to stay home instead of bolting the premises.
West Warwick’s Lagor was voted the Schoolboy Sports Coach of the year.
After a very young Wizards team lost its first two games, the chances of it evening qualifying for the Division II Tournament appeared to be slim and none (and slim already had departed for Texas).
Instead, the team regrouped under Lagor’s direction and finished 11-3 overall which included West Warwick’s first Division II Super Bowl appearance in 11 years – a 48-13 pounding of Cumberland.
Reddy was voted the Schoolgirls Sports coach of the Year after leading La Salle Academy to its third consecutive Division I state basketball title – plus its sixth state crown in seven years. The Rams waxed Barrington, 62-29 in the finals.
Reddy’s hallmark is his strict attention to fundamentals, improvement of individual skills and unselfish team play. In practice, his mantra is “No time for sitting.”
Rare honor: Invariably, Rhode Island schoolboy basketball players are deemed to be too slow, too short, too something but something invariably negative. But that’s not the case with Classical senior Kealen Ives.
Ives has been nominated to play in the 2014 McDonald’s Senior All-American High School Basketball Games.
Of all the 984 boys and girls who play basketball in the Interscholastic League, Ives was the sole play to be nominated for the games which are scheduled for April 2 at Chicago’s United Center.
The final rosters will be announced on Jan. 29.
Ives led the Purple to the Division I state title last season by averaging 21.8 points, 5.4 assists and 2.8 steals per game. Moreover, he notched his 1,000th career point and was voted the MVP of the state tournament.
“Kealan has come a long way in a short time,” said coach John Kavanaugh. “He committed himself to his teammates and coaches and has done everything you can ask a player to do.”
Clippers sail into deep water: In one sense, Cumberland’s football team is paying the price for success.
After being one of the dominant Division II teams over the last eight years, the Clippers have been bumped up to Division I where it will knock heads with perennial powers like four-time Super Bowl champion Hendricken, La Salle, Cranston East, Portsmouth, etc.
More recently, Cumberland blanked Woonsocket, 49-0, in the 2012 Division II Super Bowl and bowed, 48-13, to West Warwick in the 2013 bowl.
The 43 football-playing schools are placed in divisions via a 70/20/10 calculation.
The number 70 represents the eight-year weighted win percentage that takes into account league data beginning with the 2006 season through 2013.
The number 20 is determined by the male enrollment total that was submitted to the R.I.I.L. on October 31, 2013.
The number 10 is comprised of winning percentage based on the last three seasons.
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.