By ALEX SPONSELLER The Warwick Warriors travel basketball club had a strong finish to its 2020 winter season, with a handful of teams making noise at the state championships. The fourth grade club finished in 4th place, while the sixth graders placed 8th
By ALEX SPONSELLER The Warwick Warriors travel basketball club had a strong finish to its 2020 winter season, with a handful of teams making noise at the state championships.
The fourth grade club finished in 4th place, while the sixth graders placed 8th and the seventh graders 11th. Each division had roughly 25 teams across the state compete in the annual tournament.
Eric Simonelli, former La Salle coach and current co-chair of the Warriors program, was excited to see the club have so much success across the board.
“We had some high expectations, we felt that some of our teams were capable of having a big year. This year was about being focused on the program as a whole instead of the individual teams. To have a strong program, to have a true feeder system for the high schools and to have that community camaraderie, you need to have a strong overall program,” said Simonelli. “We started at the grass roots and began working with the second and third graders, my right hand man Jim Garcia has a really great program for kindergarten through second grade, our fourth grade team played well. We are in a good place with the younger kids.”
Simonelli joined the club last year after resigning from La Salle. Since then, he and Garcia have heavily focused on establishing a strong youth program that will help the local high schools and make Warwick a hotbed for Rhode Island hoops at the youth level.
“I resigned at La Salle and kind of looked at the Warwick travel program and felt that I could help make it better. I have a young family, so originally I wanted to just focus on coaching my kid. Last summer we ran a free clinic with (Pilgrim boys coach) Matt Fontaine and (Toll Gate coach) Tom Rayko at the Boys and Girls Club which developed into me running all of the teams. Things have caught on a bit since, it’s been a lot of fun,” said Simonelli.
The Warriors are looking forward to hitting the court as soon as the COVID-19 crisis passes, and hopes to continue to make strides and improvements for next winter.
“Our sixth and seventh grade teams were successful, and even our fifth grade team has a lot of potential. We are planning on making some big improvements with our girls program. There is a lot of postitivity surrounding the club right now,” said Simonelli. “Especially seeing how far we have come (in the past year) and where we ended up, we expect a lot of great things.”
For more information on the Warwick Warriors program, visit the club on Twitter @warwickybb, Instagram @warwickyouthbasketball, and Facebook @bgcwarwick.