My Pitch

Warwick community remains strong

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It was a big week for the Warwick community last week, and really, for all of the state of Rhode Island.

Summer is usually considered to be the slowest time of the year for sports, and in terms of the number of events per day, it is. But, in terms of significant days, it may in fact be the busiest.

There were three big items that I visited last week, and they were the CJ Buckley Regatta, the Gianna Cirella Memorial Golf Tournament, and the Best Hoops Premier Basketball Camp at Bishop Hendricken.

All three of these events are significant for different reasons, but they all kind of tie into one underlying theme, which is that the Warwick community and all of RI continues to show its bond.

The 17th annual CJ Buckley Regatta took place at Goddard Park and the East Greenwich Yacht Club last Monday and Tuesday. Over 150 sailors from across 12 states made the trip to compete in the memorial race, which has evolved into the Club 420 Sailing Association’s Junior National Championships.

Buckley was an avid sailor, who passed away after a 16-month battle of brain cancer at the age of 17. His family and friends established the regatta the summer following his passing, and it is as strong as ever.

The success of this regatta and how much it has grown in less than two decades serves as a great reminder of how close the RI community is. The event was created by locals to honor Buckley, and even more locals have jumped in each passing year to lend a hand.

Now, 17 years later, it is a major national sailing event, with the proceeds going toward the CJ Buckley Sailing Foundation. The funds go toward providing financial aid to young sailors that demonstrate Buckley’s passion for the sport. Great things can come from hard times, and I am sure that CJ would be thrilled to see the impact that the regatta has made on so many people throughout the years.

The next was the Cirella Golf Tournament.

This was the first time that the Gianna Cirella Foundation hosted the event, which was played on Saturday at the North Kingstown Golf Course. The foundation holds an annual 5k and gala, but may have found its biggest event yet in this golf outing.

Nearly 150 golfers hit the course on Saturday and were joined by many more volunteers, friends and family of Cirella. Cirella was a Toll Gate soccer player that passed away unexpectedly in 2017 after being stricken with sepsis. Her family and friends then created the Cirella Foundation, which raises funds toward sepsis research.

As of Monday morning, the funds raised at the golf tourney had already exceeded $10,000, and were expected to rise throughout the week.

Like the Buckley Regatta, this is another great example of how the strong bond in this community has led to great things being accomplished. When accounting for each event that the foundation has put on and continues to put on, the total money raised toward sepsis research has been substantial and should continue to grow each time out. Like CJ, I’m sure Gianna would be happy to see so many of her friends and family create such a strong foundation in her name that is making a difference for thousands of people.

The last item is the Best Premier Hoops Camp.

The three-week long camp concluded last week at Hendricken, and was once again led by basketball coach and newly-appointed athletic director Jamal Gomes. The camp teaches kids the basics of the sport, but most importantly, sportsmanship and hard work.

This was the 29th summer that the camp was held, and its numbers are the highest they’ve been as it continues to be the largest basketball camp in the state and one of the top programs in all of New England.

Much of this is thanks to the hard work of Gomes and the staff at Hendricken, as well as past figures that laid the foundation of the camp.

There was a big name at the camp as well, as former Hendricken standout and current NBA trainer Rob McClanaghan made the trip to work with campers and share his experience and knowledge. Some of McClanaghan’s clients include NBA players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, Al Horford, and Steph Curry. He also trains Candace Parker from the WNBA.

Having guys like McClanaghan involved is exactly why so many kids want to be part of this camp and why so many parents make it happen. These kids are receiving coaching from some of the best of the best, and to see it continue to grow after three decades is nothing short of impressive.

By the way, the Pilgrim and Toll Gate basketball teams are hosting a free youth basketball clinic at the Boys and Girls Club at Oakland Beach on August 18th. Kudos to the teams for giving back to the community and providing mentorship to these young players.

Between the events mentioned, as well as many others, Warwick and RI continue to show that it is a close-knit community, and its citizens support one another every day. I am rooting for each of these events, and am hoping they enjoy continued success. Hopefully even more people take notice and join the mix.

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