Standing pat: Local athletes continue fight

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Last week, the Warwick School Committee passed an amended version of budget cuts that included sports for the public high schools and middle schools in the city.

However, local athletes and coaches have continued to stand their ground, and are have been determined to have the decision reversed.

Roughly 100 athletes, coaches, parents and administrators rallied at Warwick City Hall last week, and even met face to face with Mayor Joseph Solomon to discuss the issue. Mayor Solomon ensured those present that sports would be restored by the fall.

Now, a week later, athletes at both Pilgrim and Toll Gate have continued to press on, and have been participating in their normal summer workouts and practices. A new batch of locals made the trip back down to city hall on a rainy Tuesday afternoon to have their voices heard once again.

“It shows that we care, it shows that both Toll Gate and Pilgrim, we’re a strong community, we all have the same goal regardless of our rivalry. We’re here for the same reason. We’re not going to stop fighting, it’s every kid’s right to be able to go to school and participate in (sports) after school,” said Toll Gate junior Josh Paiva, who competes in soccer and track for the Titans. “We deserve the same right that every other school does to go out there and try to earn a scholarship and compete.”

“It shows how much sports, academics, clubs, how everything affects everyone. We’re not going to get it back unless we’re doing this, rain or shine, everyone needs to get out and protest and tell them how we feel. How we feel is, is that this is not OK,” added fellow Toll Gate junior Brandon Lajoie, a baseball player.

Paiva and Lajoie are among the many locals that plan to fight throughout the summer, and believe that the importance of restoring sports in the city goes far beyond what happens on the field.

“We just have to treat it like any other normal day, we have to keep training, keep practicing,” said Paiva. “We need to be prepared for if that time comes that we’re allowed to have them.”

“We’re never going to stop. When you hear us say, ‘fund our future,’ they are literally funding our future. We have some phenomenal athletes and sports are sometimes the only thing that will allow them to get somewhere,” added Lajoie. “I play baseball and am planning on training all throughout the offseason. If they don’t bring it back and I put all of that work in, it won’t be OK.”

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