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Townies appreciate resumption of sports this fall

Coaches and players prepare for a shortened high school season

By Mike Rego
Posted 9/15/20

EAST PROVIDENCE — With word coming out recently that most fall high school sports in Rhode Island will be played amid precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, coaches and athletics expressed a …

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Please support local news coverage –

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Townies appreciate resumption of sports this fall

Coaches and players prepare for a shortened high school season

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — With word coming out recently that most fall high school sports in Rhode Island will be played amid precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, coaches and athletics expressed a sense of relief and appreciation for being allowed to compete in their usual season of play.

Fall 2020 will see boys’ and girls’ soccer, girls’ tennis as well as boys’ and girls’ cross country teams compete at East Providence High School. Teams can begin an abbreviated preseason preparation time frame on Monday, Oct. 21.

The notable exceptions to the decisions made by the Rhode Island Principals Committee on Athletics and the Rhode Island Interscholastic League are for football and girls’ volleyball, which will be contested in a special condensed season between the upcoming winter and spring campaigns after the first of the new year.

“I’m obviously excited, especially for the seniors, that they’re going to get something out of their last year. It might not be what they hoped for, but it’s better than nothing. And we’re going to do our best as coaches to make it as enjoyable an experience as possible,” said EPHS boys’ soccer coach Tony Vieira.

“It’s an outside sport, so I thought there was maybe less contact, you can social distance more easily than you can in an indoor sport,” said EPHS senior girls’ tennis player Raissa Luu, who noted some of her peers are reluctant to participate for fear of catching the virus. She also said the last couple of weeks have been difficult as students prepare for the start of the 2020-21, she will be an in-person pupil, but as for tennis, she added, “I think things are running smoothly so far.”

Soccer notes
Vieira said when his team is allowed to gather officially next Monday to ready for the 2020 season, among his first priorities is making sure his players are both physically and mentally fit while dealing with all that comes with COVID-19 mandates set up by state health officials.

“It’s going to go by quick, but everyone needs to take it for what it is,” Vieira continued. “Hopefully, nothing will happen to stop it. As for the soccer piece, we’ll worry about that day-by-day once we get started.”

Soccer, both boys’ and girls, have two weeks to prepare for a six-game regular season.

In order of play, all on Saturday starting October 3, the EPHS boys’ Division I game schedule is as follows: at Shea, St. Raphael, at Barrington, at Central Falls, Cumberland and Tolman.

The EPHS girls’ D-II match schedule, also starting October 3 and playing on consecutive Saturdays, is: Cranston East, Wheeler, at Moses Brown, North Providence, at West Warwick and at Cranston East.

The EPHS boys’ team will gather Monday-Friday in the preseason for tryouts and workouts at Pierce Stadium from 6-8 p.m. The girls will do the same at an earlier time Monday-Friday, 2:15-4:30 p.m.

Players will work in pods with the same teammates to limit contact and maintain stable groups. With that in mind, there will be no “swing” players moving between the varsity and junior varsity teams. Vieira said he is likely to keep 20 players each on the varsity and JV rosters. There is no formal JV schedule this fall, but the team is expected to play a number of others in the area.

From the boys’ perspective, Vieira said all athletes must come prepared on the first day of tryouts with all required documentation noting their ability to compete. If not, they will not be considered for a spot in the program. Forms and all information regarding eligibility for sports at EPHS can be found at https://eastprovidencehs.rschoolteams.com.

“If they’re not ready to go the first day, then come back next year,” Vieira said. “They all know the forms they need to fill out. We can’t wait for paperwork or for them to take physicals. The time frame is just not going to allow it.”

The exact playoff format for soccer is to be determined, but it is tentatively set to take place over a two-week period in November.

“Depending on where are with the virus, it may not happen. It may not get to that point if things go badly in the schools. Hopefully, that won’t happen, though,” Vieira said.

Several pandemic-related precautions to be implemented throughout the fall are being discussed, the coach said. Among those are players potentially wearing masks during play, which would limit any changes to rules of the game, social distancing on benches and considerable use of hand sanitizer. Coaching staffs are likely to be required to wear masks at all times, as will substitutes on bench.

Vieira said it appears a limited amount of spectators will be allowed on grounds, though likely only parents and family members. He added East Providence’s access to 7,000-seat Pierce Stadium should let the Townies meet any fan requirements.

EPHS girls’ head coach Angelo Pizzi shared Vieira’s sentiment about his players’ readiness come the start of official training next week. He was also happy officials allowed the season to occur after all.

“I was surprised to be honest,” Pizzi said. “The rumors were out there that it wasn’t go to happen so when we got the notice we were good to go, the kids were very excited. It established a little bit of normalcy for them.”

Of the first day of practice and thereafter, he continued, “We gotta go, all at it right away. Normally they have summer time to build up conditioning a bit, then kind of work into it when we get together. But this year, we’ve got to be ready to go on Monday.

Pizzi, who counts only 26 total players expected to tryout for the team, said the first few days and weeks will initially emphasize conditioning, but quickly move into strategy and figuring out where all the pieces fit into this year’s East Providence lineup.

“We’re going from the frying pan into the fryer. We’re going access their fitness, then start on skills, try to figure out how quickly we can move the kids from one end of the spectrum to the other,” Pizzi added. “Hey, but it’s better than the alternative, which isn’t playing at all. I’m just happy the girls will get the opportunity to take the field. That’s all that really matters.”

Girls’ tennis notes

The start of girls’ tennis practice will as well see an accelerated schedule, with an emphasis not only on fitness and skills, but also on setting the Townies’ order of players known in the sport as “the ladder,” according to EPHS coach Cory Duquette.

“There’s no turning back now. We have to hit the ground running and see what happens,” he continued.

The EPHS girls’ tennis team is slated to have six Division II regular season matches on consecutive Saturdays starting October 3 against Providence Country Day, Woonsocket, St. Raphael, at Central and at Tolman, except for Sunday, Oct. 25, when the Townies play at home against Classical.

Despite the prospects of prepping quickly and the shortened season, the coach said he’s also pleased his players will get the opportunity to compete this fall.

“It was definitely anxious times because we definitely wanted the season to happen,” Duquette added. “I’m hoping we’re ready to start full time. We have a lot of girls from other sports that want to try tennis for the first time, so it’s kind of nice that this is actually happening.”

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