SPORTS

Avoiding the problem is not the solution

Posted 8/3/22

Just when you thought that I could not find more to complain about regarding the Warwick School Committee and its approach to athletics, you were wrong, another incident emerged in the past couple of …

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SPORTS

Avoiding the problem is not the solution

Posted

Just when you thought that I could not find more to complain about regarding the Warwick School Committee and its approach to athletics, you were wrong, another incident emerged in the past couple of weeks.

As many of you probably know by now, there was a recent development in the Pilgrim-Vets bleacher situation.

Just to refresh your memory, toward the end of the football season in the fall, a fan brought the bleachers at Vets to the public eye and exposed them for not being up to code. Shortly after, it was discovered that the bleachers at Pilgrim also failed to meet modern safety requirements.

From there, the schools closed the bleachers off with the hopes of seeing them renovated in time for spring sports. Surprise, surprise, that never happened, and the two venues are still operating with empty, outdated bleachers.

Now, there were modifications made recently and it appeared that the bleachers would be reopened in time for fall sports. Then, a new issue emerged, and it was that the bleachers now did not meet ADA (American Disability Act) requirements as they are in need of wheelchair ramps and additional platforms.

The school committee estimates that the additional costs will total $50,000. The school committee plans on appealing the decision, and states that a motivating factor is the fact that in two years, new high schools are likely and the money would be spent just to see the bleachers demolished anyway.

I understand where they are coming from and there is no harm in appealing, but as always, too little, too late.

When will it end? Will it end in two years when the new schools are built? The kids deserve new schools and accommodations, but it’s scary that they will be left in such poor hands.

This situation should have been addressed swiftly last fall. Obviously it should have never come down to this, but the schools had months to make it work and simply chose not to. The committee members are professional foot draggers and really don’t have the interest of the students or families in mind.

Times are tough, money is not easy to come by. However, there are thousands of communities in worse shape than Warwick. These continued issues, especially when it comes to athletics, are not a product of bad fortune, they’re a product of massive mismanagement that has spanned over many years. In the four-plus years that I have been in Rhode Island, it has been a mess that has devolved more by the day.

I am thrilled that the kids are going to be getting new schools. They deserve better and it looks like they’ll be getting it. But at the end of the day, the school department can’t and shouldn’t be trusted. These next few years are going to be a nightmare and what we are about to experience is mayhem.

You know the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

The Warwick School Committee’s saying is clearly, “If it is broke, try your best to avoid fixing it.”

At the end of the day, I am sure that the bleacher situation will be resolved one way or another. We have another month until the fall sports season and they are at the goal line at the moment. Still, this has been going on for nearly a year and continues to be a problem. It is just a shame and as much as I am annoying for constantly harassing the school committee, it has not really earned the benefit of the doubt. Round and round we go.

On a positive note, our Cranston Western 10’s and Cranston East juniors took home state titles last week and will be competing at regionals. Each team was dominant in their quests and were a level above the rest of the competition. Both squads were unbeaten.

What a great summer for Cranston baseball. They had two state champions crowned and another district champion in the East 11’s. The East senior team also reached the state final.

Now, Little League results don’t always predict the future for high school clubs, but they can sometimes be an indicator. For example, the Warwick North team that went to Williamsport eventually went on to play for Pilgrim and many of those kids flourished and went on that big run in 2021.

If that is the case, Cranston East and West must be thrilled knowing that they will be inheriting some great ballplayers in the next few years. Playing these big tournaments will only make the kids better in the long run.

And, for another year, CWLL will be hosting the 10-year-old regionals and will see their team represent them in the process. This is always an exciting time for the league and shows that they do it right.

The complex they have up on Hope Road is fantastic. The fields are in great shape, the bleachers and seating areas are well-maintained and plenty, as is the parking. It really is one of the best Little League complexes in New England and deserves to host these big tournaments.

We are down to our final few teams here, and I look forward to seeing how they make out. I also have to give one last shout out to the Johnston 12’s who won District I but fell at states. This was the first time since 2009 that a Johnston team won the district, which was before these players were born.

It was a fun team to watch and also bodes well for the league and town’s future.

My Pitch, sports column

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