CCRI volleyball story an important one to tell

Posted 1/24/23

This week I had the pleasure of writing a feature on the formation of the CCRI women’s volleyball team back in 1976. This was the first ever women’s sports team at the school and paved …

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CCRI volleyball story an important one to tell


This week I had the pleasure of writing a feature on the formation of the CCRI women’s volleyball team back in 1976. This was the first ever women’s sports team at the school and paved the way for what is now one of the premier athletics schools in the country at the junior level.

I’ll let you read the full feature but in short, a group of three East Providence volleyball players recruited a team in 1976 at CCRI, which at the time was Rhode Island Junior College, and were led by Toll Gate coach Gail Davis. It was the first women’s team at the school and the girls enjoyed immediate success. Four decades later, you see the progress made and it all started with that group.

My first thought on the story is that it blows my mind that even in 1976, women’s sports in college were not common. Schools began offering women’s sports in the 1950s and 60s, then in 1972 with Title IX they became even more prevalent, but in general, many schools were without female sports.

To think how long sports have existed, it is unfathomable that as recent as the 1970’s that they were not a regular thing collegiately; it really is hard to wrap your head around it.

Then in terms of the big picture, it really is a tremendous story that has caused a ripple effect decades later. These girls were huge in bringing college sports to Rhode Island and without them, who knows how much longer women would have had to wait. They broke the mold and you see the development years later.

My last takeaway is that this story showed that if you want something, go get it. If not for these girls, the school would have gone at least another year without women’s sports, and could have gone even longer. There was no guarantee that it would all work out, either. They needed to build a roster, coaching staff, and on top of all that, prove that it could be a competitive unit.

Now, 46-plus years later, that group still boasts some of the most successful campaigns the school has ever seen. Impressive.

Every once in a while, a story hits home and makes you look at the world around you. I was not born in 1976 so I did not experience it first hand, but it does make me appreciate the world that I have been given, the opportunities, and puts things in perspective a little bit. Appreciate every opportunity that you have, because many people are not as fortunate and need to fight twice as hard to get half as far.

The Warwick boys hockey co-op team had another electric win last week when it beat Mount St. Charles in a 3-2 thriller. It was another big time regular season win for the co-op which is now referring to itself as the Militia, and it continues to prove that it is a force to be reckoned with in Division I.

Last year the team finished at the bottom of the standings with one win. It lost in the opening round of the playoffs and was only there because, well, every team made it.

This year has been different, it has been a breakout year for it. It beat Hendricken for Warwick’s first public school win over the Hawks in nearly 20 years. Now it has a win over the Mounties. The team then got a win over Barrington on Saturday to improve to 6-2 and claim third place overall.

Sure, Hendricken isn’t going anywhere and La Salle has been hot and handed the Militia one of its losses. Cumberland has been hot as well, and the Mounties are always in the picture. Division I is loaded and any of those teams could pull off a championship run.

I will say though, and my ultimate point is that Warwick is in this thing. The win over the Hawks was no fluke, no overachievement. This team is in this race and is a contender. What a difference a year makes.

By the way, I love the new nickname, the Militia. Although it is not official on paper, it has been catching on with locals and it seems like it is only a matter of time before it happens.

I wish that all co-ops came up with unique names. What typically happens is either they don’t come up with a name, or they go with whichever school has the most players and/or provides the uniforms. The Cranston co-op for example, is often referred to as “the Falcons,” or just flat out “West”. The Warwick girls co-op is referred to as the Lady Titans as well.

Not that this is a big issue, but I like the idea of all the schools involved coming up with a unique name. The Militia leans more toward the Patriots, but at least it is something new. Another example is the Cranston girls team which refers to itself as the Thunderbirds, blending the Thunderbolts and Falcons.

So, hopefully we can all help make the Militia nickname stick.

pitch, sports, column