SPORTS

A shoutout to some locals

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Spring practices begin this week, so we are wrapping up the brief respite between seasons. Obviously I am referring to the end of winter and start of spring.

One thing that I enjoy about these short breaks is that they allow me to kind of look out the window and take a look at what is going on off the field, off the court, ice, what have you. Athletes accomplish so much more than what we see during the competition.

During the past week or so, I have used this time to catch up on some of the happenings with our locals, and I am going to use this column as a way to give a few of them shoutouts.

First, we had two of our guys make the prestigious Golden Dozen for football. The Golden Dozen is an annual scholarship given by the Emo DiNitto/Rhode Island Football Chapter of the National Football Foundation. The recipients of this award are chosen based on performance on the gridiron as well as in the classroom, with a required minimum grade average of B-plus to go along with at least All-Division honors.  Those selected to the Golden Dozen will be given $1,000 grants toward their respective colleges in a ceremonial dinner on May 2 at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick.

Pilgrim’s Connor Widmer and Johnston’s Joey Acciardo were the two guys in our coverage area that made the cut.

This is always a great honor for those student athletes and it is nice to see their hard work be rewarded. I say it all the time, but there are few things in life as challenging as being a student-athlete. Between the six or so hours spent in the classroom, plus the additional hours doing homework. Combine that with practices, games, weight room workouts, traveling to events, many days these kids struggle just to find the time to eat dinner.

For these kids to not only accomplish that, but to excel both academically and athletically, it shows a tremendous deal of commitment, smarts and talent. These kids deserve so much credit.

I am also looking forward to seeing how these two kids do on the college stage. Acciardo is planning on heading out to California while Widmer will be going to Delaware to compete in lacrosse. Either way, these guys had great high school careers and deserve the help that the scholarship will provide.

We also had a college signing at Pilgrim last week as girls soccer standout Alanna Coffie signed to play for Division I Providence College.

The Pilgrim girls soccer team has been one of the best in the state over the past decade, churning out wins and playoff appearances on an annual basis. Coffie has been one of the best players to hit the field for the Pats in the past few years and this commitment is not at all surprising.

One thing that I value or I guess I should say I would value, if I was a coach is consistency. That is one thing that has always stood out to me about Alanna … she always appeared in the box scores and always seemed to make an impact. Did not matter if it was regular season, playoffs. Whether she was scoring a goal, coming up with a big assist, making a defensive stop, she was always right where she needed to be making plays.

Pilgrim has had a few girls reach the college level in recent years and Coffie is now the newest name added to the list. I am excited to see how she stands up to the Division I competition. When the Pats moved up to Division I two seasons ago, it did not matter as Coffie only seemed to get better. I think people sometimes underestimate how good Rhode Island soccer is … as someone that has covered sports in Massachusetts, Maine and RI, I think Rhody is the best.

Coffie is one of the regions best players and I am pretty confident that she will find success up the road in Providence. Congrats on the signing.

Another Warwick athlete made headlines, as Rocky Hill’s Denzel Correia was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for boys basketball. This was the first time that a Rocky Hill player received this honor.

Considering the size of the school and the fact that the Mariners play mostly out of state, Rocky Hill is oftentimes overlooked. I will admit that I am guilty of that as much as anyone.

For Correia to win this award is not only a huge accomplishment for him, but it also puts Rocky Hill on the map to a degree.

Correia’s numbers were staggering – over 21 points and seven rebounds per game. Again, it seemed like he was the state’s best kept secret … no one was really talking about him.

So, for him to lead the team to a conference title, put up gigantic numbers, and to get this recognition is a wonderful story. I am always rooting for our athletes, and I am glad to see one of our guys representing their school. Rocky Hill has turned out some great teams and athletes in the past, but Correia is as good as it gets and certainly will require everyone to take a closer look at the team moving forward.

I think that this is also exciting for Warwick. Between the Weeks brothers and Correia, the city had seen a handful of its natives excel on the basketball court. Correia is not sure if he will go to college next year or go to a prep school, but either way, I see bright things ahead of him in his future.

Congrats to all of our local athletes that made their families, teams and cities proud these past couple of weeks.

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