Driving by Cranston High School West athletic fields on any given day and will reveal signs of significant progress at its football field.
According to Cranston Parks and Recreation Director Tony Liberatore, the project – a public-private partnership between the city and the Cranston West Alumni Association, focused on revitalizing the field and allowing it to host home games – is on schedule and moving along well.
The progress is being made possible through the efforts of many members of the community. They include the school’s football team.
“It’s so great to see the team players and coaches here to help out with this project,” Cranston West faculty member Craig Sacco said. “They’ve been working hard.”
West senior Cam Alves said he is happy to be able to help with the project and looks forward to its completion.
“Being able to play on our home field will be good,” he said. “We haven’t been able to do that in about a decade, and the feeling is nothing but excitement. This will be really great for the whole community.”
Alves said he and his fellow teammates have one major goal in mind.
“We really can’t wait to see what it’s going to look like on that first Friday night that we play under the lights with the fans in the stands,” he said. “Being able to help and participate in the project, that will make it all mean so much more.”
David DiMaio, president of the Alumni Association, said that the project has many moving parts and that a great deal of work has been done.
“The bleachers have been removed, the brackets have been fixed and painted red and gray, the stands have been power-washed and new aluminum seating has been ordered and we’re waiting on delivery for that,” he said. “Field drainage is in, the press box was completely gutted, the plans were completed for the redesign of that space and work has begun.”
The redesign includes expanded bathrooms, a larger snack bar and an expanded coaches’ box and press box.
“The pavilion surrounding the area will be the van Eeghen Alumni Pavilion,” DiMaio said.
That name honors Mark van Eeghen, a Cranston West alum and former NFL football player for both the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders. He recently reflected on the upcoming pavilion dedication and was humbled by the honor.
“I am most humbled by the recognition given me by having this wonderful pavilion being named for my family,” he said. “When I think of my years at West, I sometimes think of touchdowns, big games won or heartbreaking losses. Everyone has those types of memories. Cranston West has played a much bigger role in my life and my life with my wife, Nancy. For starters, we met and fell in love at Cranston West. Together we formed relationships with friends that we continue to keep in touch with today. Those relationships made our time at Cranston West very meaningful and set us up for a wonderful life.”
Attending Cranston West became a family tradition for the van Eeghen family, as their children are also graduates of the school.
“We relived Cranston West anew when our three daughters, Brooke, Kady and Amber, attended and participated in the same time-honored traditions that we remembered so fondly,” van Eeghen said. “My post-high school football career set me up for lots of meaningful experiences with the sport I love so much but it never got any better than being a Falcon. My entire family is thankful for this honor. It means more to all of us than you can possibly know.”
The three van Eeghen children said they are proud of their father.
“We were so excited to hear that the Cranston West Alumni Association was planning to name the new Alumni Pavilion in our father’s name,” they said in a statement. “Dad is well known for his football days and that has surely brought him into the limelight, but those who know him know there is so much more to him. He is a truly and deeply devoted husband, father, grandfather and friend. He is dedicated, honest and loyal. The example he has set for us and everyone we know is one of lifelong dignity, compassion, and strength. Those who know our Dad know how truly humble he is. He probably doesn’t totally grasp why this honor should be bestowed on him but we do and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
The pavilion will feature engraved pavers, which can be purchased for $100.
“The first batch has been sent to the engravers and we will be taking orders through the end of September,” Alumni Association board member Erica Caligiuri said, noting that the group is already well on its way to meeting the goal of 100 pavers sold.
DiMaio credits donors, sponsors and contributors for helping to bring the project to life.
“This is one of those projects that would not have materialized if not for all of the help of our donors, sponsors, and contributors,” he said. “This is what the city of Cranston can do when both public and private partners from our community work together.”
DiMaio said the project is still in need of additional sponsors, contributions and donations, including materials such as construction material or plumbing fixtures.
“Contributors have an exclusive opportunity to have signage on the fence surrounding the field for a period of three years, with opportunities for renewal after the third year,” he said.
DiMaio also credits Liberatore for having a vision for Cranston’s future that has resulted in a second multi-use sports facility in the city.
“If it wasn’t for Tony Liberatore seeing that another multi-use sports complex was needed in Cranston, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” he said.
The Alumni Association has also been hard at work off the field, seeking sponsorships and promoting upcoming fundraising events. Those include a Funny 4 Funds comedy night being held at the Cranston Country Club on Aug. 23. Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased in person or online at funny4funds.com/events. Online sales include an additional $2 processing fee.
“The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.,” Alumni Association board member Karen Casale said. “There will be appetizers and hot hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, raffles, a 50/50 drawing and auctions. The show is for ages 18 and up and is a PG-13 show featuring top local comedians.”
Casale can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for ticket and event information.
Additionally, the Thirsty Beaver will be hosting Thursday night “Thirsty Thursday” events as well as “Falcon Fridays” in the fall, both to help support the Alumni Association.
“This Alumni Association was formed with a goal of partnering past graduates with current students and recent graduates with the shared goal of continuous growth for Cranston West students,” DiMaio said. “We’re always looking for more volunteers to join us and help out in any way they can.”
Anyone interested in donating or contributing, or who has questions regarding upcoming events, can contact DiMaio at email@example.com or 588-1313.