EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence High girls’ volleyball team christened the school’s refurbished gymnasium with a wild, five-set victory over visiting Classical Monday night, Sept. 9, in a Division I-North contest.
The Townies improved to 2-0 on the young season with the 25-16, 19-25, 26-28, 25-22 and 15-10 win in a front of a sizable crowd on hand to take in both the match and the high school’s renovated digs.
The senior tandem of Logan Fontes and Kaitlyn Bellamy paced the locals. Fontes, in the middle, had 10 kills, four aces and two blocks while Bellamy, from the outside, had nine kills and five digs. Classical seemingly had the match in hand late in the fourth game, building an 18-13 lead before the Townies rallied to take the set and the last to pull out the win. Monday was the league opener for the Purple, who dropped to 0-1.
“It’s the beginning of the year. We’re a young team still looking for vocal leaders. We’re probably going to play some ugly volleyball for a while,” EPHS head coach Alex Butler said of Monday’s uneven win, which followed a 3-1 season opening victory over LaSalle last week. “It’s an inexperienced team that is working hard to get to a high level of play. The kids are trying to get comfortable out there on the floor.”
East Providence fans got their first glimpse of the over $100,000 in improvements completed and continuing to be made to the once-tired facility, an effort spurred on by community members known as the “Townie Project.”
“I’m very proud to be part of the process. A lot of people worked really hard to come up with such a beautiful gym,” Coach Butler added about his team opening the renovated facility.
He added of the atmosphere Monday, “Being the first team to play in it is great but the real key is that our teams and student athletes should feel a great sense of pride in ‘their’ home court. It was phenomenal tonight. The students came out strong tonight, and the girls appreciate that. I hope it continues.”
The gym is almost unrecognizable to those who know it well.
The ceiling and walls have been covered with fresh coats of bright white paint. The window frames and other accents have been painted red. Bleachers donated by Providence College from Alumni Hall replaced the original seating. The gym floor, which used to be crusty brown in color due to years of neglect, was stripped bare and re-coated with layers of fresh polyurethane. The center piece of the hardwood is a redesigned “Townie” logo and insignia at half court.
Dozens of volunteers joined in on the project, which was finished by professional installers, painters and refinishers.
“The idea for this project was to allow people to invest of their time for the betterment of their community. We were really happy with how many volunteers took part,” said Joe Wahl, a former standout athlete for the Townies and a fellow EPHS Class of 2000 grad along with John Carnevale, who was one of the driving forces behind the “Townie Project” through his D’amour Step foundation.
“We wanted to get this done last year, but we just couldn’t. We were able to get it done this year, which was great,” Mr. Wahl added. “It was great to be involved in this. It was a lot of fun. We basically spent the whole summer sitting around John’s pool at night, dreaming up things with could do.”
As good as the gym already looks, it’s not yet totally completed. Three 60-inch television sets have been purchased and will be installed in the gym for use during health classes and assemblies. Another 46 inch television will be installed in the aerobics room. Also, a new banner system is being completed, replacing the mismatched banners of past EPHS championship teams.
An “official” opening ceremony is tentatively set to take place later in September with a host of guests and dignitaries expected to attend.