Co-ops proving their worth

Posted 1/3/23

The Warwick boys hockey co-op shocked the state by beating defending champion Bishop Hendricken 5-2 last Friday night at Thayer Arena.

It was the first time since 2005 that a Warwick public school …

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Co-ops proving their worth


The Warwick boys hockey co-op shocked the state by beating defending champion Bishop Hendricken 5-2 last Friday night at Thayer Arena.

It was the first time since 2005 that a Warwick public school beat Hendricken in any sport. The last team to get it done was the Toll Gate hockey team when it beat the Hawks on its way to the state championship.

For those who have read my work in the past, I am all about Pilgrim and Toll Gate co-opping when it makes sense. The numbers in each school have generally dropped in the past few years which have caused the schools to join forces in a few sports. Of course, if a specific sport has enough players then no problem, but for those sports that are clinging on and trying to field a team each year, I think co-opping creates so many fun opportunities.

There has been plenty of coverage and discussion regarding the future of the two high schools. Right now, the plan is for the city to build two brand new high schools. There are many people in Warwick, though, that believe that creating just one high school would make the most sense.

I’m not sure if that would be possible, but considering the conversation is happening, I do think residents are open to co-ops and unifying the schools. I understand why some people would be against it, there is nothing like an inter-city rivalry, fewer hurdles when getting the teams together, etc.

But this past Friday’s game showed the type of teams that Warwick could build. True, Division I powers in multiple sports.

Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves; it was one regular season game. Even the best teams can be knocked off once in a while and get caught by surprise. Warwick earned that win, though. That was a big boy victory and the team proved that it will be a force this season.

As much as I love the Pilgrim-Toll Gate football rivalry, imagine if those teams combined forces and had matchups against teams like Hendricken? The buzz would be outstanding.

Again, I am not saying that teams should co-op and double the players needed. Simply for teams that are hurting for numbers, which in Warwick has become much more prevalent over the past three or four years.

It will be fun to see what comes from this win for Warwick. The team struggled last year in its first season in Division I. Now, the team has experience and has really solidified its lineup. La Salle is next on Friday, and if Warwick wins that one, then I think we are looking at a real contender in the Division I race.

This is a two-part topic, but I just discovered that Pawtucket voted to demolish McCoy Stadium and build a new high school on the site. I was late to the party of that one. Shea and Tolman will be merging and occupying the new school.

The first part is that this will be fun to watch when it happens for exactly the reasons I stated above. Tolman and Shea have some pretty competitive teams. Football especially, when the new team is formed we will be looking at one of the best high school teams in the state. Shea was a solid Division I team while Tolman was one of the best in Division III.

If these two schools come together and everything works well, including athletically, it could make Warwick residents wonder “what if” should the new school plan not work out. I’m not rooting for the new schools to fail, it’s just something to think about considering the significance of the situation.

The second part of the topic is how disappointing it is to see McCoy treated the way it was once the PawSox left town.

I mean, it’s hard to complain when a new state of the art high school is taking its place. If you are going to demolish a beautiful facility, you could do a lot worse than replacing it with something that will benefit students. However, just the way the stadium was tossed away is disheartening.

McCoy has so much history. It was one of the best and most beloved minor league stadiums in the country. The field was beautiful, there were plenty of amenities. From what I understand, the only real issue was parking. There was no parking garage and finding places to leave your car was difficult.

It’s just shocking how fast the stadium went from being fully operational and well maintained to run down, abandoned, and on death row.

If the demand is not there, then it’s not there. It just surprises me that other minor league teams could not occupy the stadium, or colleges, high school. There could be concerts, other shows of that nature as well. It seems like there was never a real push to keep the stadium running once the PawSox moved to Worcester.

Not to poke the locals that were devastated by the PawSox departure, but maybe the way things fell apart for the stadium is more telling than we understand. If there was so little push to keep the stadium upright, if there were so few suitors lining up to take over, then maybe it really was just time to move on. Maybe McCoy was not the palace that it once was.

That has always been a topic that has fascinated me. Stadiums that get abandoned and demolished. It blows my mind how large these facilities are and the amount of work put into building them. It takes years and years, millions and millions of dollars. You’d think that any arena that can seat thousands of people would always be able to find ways to generate revenue.

Politics always get in the way and we have more vacant arenas rotting than we ever had.

Pitch, column


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