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Portsmouth's Occhi named RIIL Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year

Recognized by School Committee Tuesday night

By Jim McGaw
Posted 10/27/20

PORTSMOUTH — Back in March, Joe Occhi was riding one of his most successful years as coach of the Portsmouth High School boys’ basketball team. 

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Portsmouth's Occhi named RIIL Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year

Recognized by School Committee Tuesday night

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — Back in March, Joe Occhi was riding one of his most successful years as coach of the Portsmouth High School boys’ basketball team. 

His squad had already won the Division II crown and had just beaten Shea at home in the opening round of the state tournament.

We know what happened next — public schools were closed the following week and switched to distance learning due to COVID-19, and the R.I. Interscholastic League (RIIL) ordered the remainder of all winter sports tournaments as well as spring sports to be canceled.

Although the Patriots never got to finish their stellar season and were left to wonder what could have been, Mr. Occhi’s efforts did not go unrecognized. He’s been named RIIL Boys’ Basketball Coach of the Year, and the School Committee recognized his extraordinary season during a virtual meeting Tuesday night.

Athletic Director Stephen Trezvant said he couldn’t thank Mr. Occhi enough for everything he’s done for the PHS student body, the district and community.

“He’s a tremendous example to our students,” Mr. Trezvant said. “The hallmark of a Coach Occhi-coached team is overcoming adversity. He really prepares our students for difficulties they’re going to face in life. Overcoming adversity is something we’re all going through in 2020, and he’s certainly someone we look to going forward.”

State Rep. Terri Cortvriend also tuned in to the meeting to congratulate the coach. 

“I’ve come to know him over the last couple of years and realize how much he gives to the boys and the team. It’s beyond just a game,” Rep. Cortvriend said, adding she had a State House citation to present to Mr. Occhi. “At some point I will be tracking you down to give this to you.”

Mr. Occhi said he was “overwhelmed” by the recognition and thanked everyone for the accolades. His team staff, he said, share in the honor.

“The only regret I have is that I wished we had gotten to finish,” he said. “But it was a wonderful year and a great group of kids, they were — a pleasure to have this year.” 

Committee Chair Emily Copeland said she hopes to see a basketball season this winter. Superintendent Thomas Kenworthy, however, said schools have yet to receive any official word from the state on the status of winter sports.

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Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.