Bizzare. Unfair. Puzzling.
Take your pick but each of the above adjectives is applicable when discussing the situation involving East Providence High coaches.
First, the back story. The financially-strapped city has been operating for a year under a state-appointed Budget Commission which oversees the city’s finances. But for reasons which have yet to be announced, fall sports coaches were unpaid for their work even though $120,000 was budgeted.
But when Dec. 14 dawned and fall coaches still had yet to receive their checks, EP alumnus Alex Butler – who coaches the boys’ volleyball and boys’ basketball teams – organized a walkout by winter sports team coaches. Other prominent Townie coaches who sided with Butler were girls’ basketball coaches Mike Solitro and Dan Cabral plus wrestling coach Tom Galligan.
Among other things, a highly-anticipated game between East Providence and Hendricken which had been scheduled for the Dec. 14 was postponed.
Now, flash forward to Dec. 17. Fall sports coaches finally received their checks but the reason for the “glitch” still was unexplained.
That’s not the whole story. While winter and spring sports coach salaries are still in the negotiation process, the Budget Commission has proposed a 60-percent reduction in each coach’s salary.
The Budget Commission is scheduled to meet on Jan. 3. Then, more will be known about the state of negotiations – which depending on what happens – theoretically could evoke another work stoppage by the Townie coaches.
STUCK IN LOW GEAR
To say that Central and Hope, the teams that played in the 2012 Division I boys’ basketball championship game last March are off to a slow start would be a major understatement.
The Knights, who rolled the Blue Wave in the finals, are 0-3, having lost to Cranston West, South Kingstown and North Kingstown.
Hope is 0-2 with losses to perennial power Hendricken (36-35) and North Kingstown on its record.
Without question Central was hurting in its season opener against the Falcons because potential leading scorer Jerrelle Washington was sidelined with an injury. But Washington returned against the Rebels and scored 22 points.
At the risk of stating the obvious, Washington may have to average in the 20-plus neighborhood in order for the Knights to have a chance to defend their title.
Hope, meanwhile, failed to place at least one player in double figures in each of its first two league games.
Two players who were expected to share the bulk of the scoring load, Johnson Weah and Manny Kargbo, only managed three points apiece in the loss to North Kingstown.
CORREA’S PLAY “SAINTLY”
Barring injury or another unforeseen circumstance, St. Raphael Academy senior guard Charles Correa could become just the second Saint in school history to be voted First Team All-State honors for three consecutive years.
Correa, the only returning player from SRA’s 2011 state championship team, was named the Most Valuable Player in the 27th annual Dennis M. Lynch Jr. Memorial Tournament which the Saints captured by beating Providence Country Day, 85-64, in the finals.
Correa scored 35 points, dished out 11 assists and snared five rebounds in the process of becoming the first player in tournament history to walk off with three consecutive MVP trophies.
When the Saints began league play, Correa scored 21 points as the Saints routed North Smithfield, 72-59.
WESTERLY’S CILLEY MAKES HISTORY
That Westerly senior Austin Cilley would surpass the 1,000-point mark for his career was a foregone conclusion.
Cilley reached that plateau when he poured in a career-high 42 points as the Bulldogs beat Prout, 69-51, in a Division II-East game. Cilley finished the game with seven 3-point baskets which gave him 169 for his career – the most ever by a boy or girl in school history.
GETTING OFF THE MAT
The beginning of the wrestling season fell under a good news-tragic news headline.
The good news was that venerable Cumberland coach Steve Gordon commenced his 44th year at the helm.
The tragic news was the passing of 37-year-old George Schmeider, who had been involved in the sport in Warwick at various levels for several years.
Gordon founded the Cumberland program in 1968 and has captured four state championships (1979, 2005, 2010 and 2012).
Moreover, the Clippers have been runners-up more times than Gordon cares to remember (in some years the Clippers have lost by the scantest of margins – one point and 1.5 points, for example).
Cumberland again could be the team to beat since it returns six starters: senior co-captains Erik Travers (152) and Jon Maccini (145); Chris Hayes (171); Nick Tribelli (132); Cody Beaudette (113); and Chris Nordby (120).
Schmeider passed away on Dec. 3 after a short illness.
He was a volunteer coach at Warwick Vets from 1999-2004 and the head coach from 2004-2010.
Schmeider returned to volunteer status as the associate head coach in 2011, when former head coach Make Nappa returned to that position. The reason Schmeider gave for his decision was so that another coach could earn the assistant’s stipend.
A Vets alumnus where he wrestled and played baseball, Schmeider established a free after-school fitness program at Gorton Junior High in 2011 after the city eliminated funding for intramurals.
Schmeider was a health and physical education teacher at Gorton.
MAKING A BIG SPLASH
There are shocking upsets and there are upsets that activate the Richter Scale.
That was the case during the first week of the swimming season when North Kingstown upset 23-time defending state champion Hendricken, 49-45.
Boris Paralliticci (50 and 100 freestyles) and Mike Toolin (200 and 500 freestyles) each won two individual events and swam a leg on two relay teams as the Skippers handed the Hawks only their second dual-meet loss since the 2001-02 season.
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.