Return of High School Sports: Masked but Grateful

by | Oct 4, 2020

Above: The EG Girls lead the pack – with Reese Fahys out in front – at their first 2020 cross country meet Oct. 3.

To get a small idea of what it’s like to compete in high school sports this year, put on your face cover and run (or walk quickly) around the block. When you are finished, imagine you have two more hours of the same. 

Here’s the thing, though. The athletes are doing it. We don’t have football and volleyball this fall, but we do have soccer, field hockey, cross country and tennis. 

The Girls Tennis team had its first match of the season Saturday, beating Mount St. Charles 7-0. The last match they played in 2019 was against the Mount, in the semis, and EG lost. So, it was a nice win. 

“The team is so happy to be playing. Practices have been going well,” said Coach Marc Brocato. “I think we have a strong team from top to bottom and do not have any seniors for the first time in my 20-year coaching career. Our captains are juniors Maddie Omicioli (defending state champion), Caroline Shea and Georgia Wood.”

They have a home match Wednesday. 

EG’s cross country teams ran in their first meet Saturday (against Cranston East, Johnston, Mount Pleasant, and Hope at Roger Williams Park) and both teams did well. This was sophomore transfer Reese Fahys’s Rhode Island debut and she showed the hype is real (she’s one of the country’s top distance runners), finishing a full minute and 5 seconds ahead of the second place finisher, teammate Rylee Shunney, who herself was a key to last year’s first place state win. Shunney finished more than a minute ahead of the third place finisher, EG runner Ava Peters. Out of the top 10 finishers, 8 were from EG. 

The Boys also did well, with 7 out of the top 9 finishers, including Jack Lombardy, Nick Martin and Jacob Connelly finishing first, second and third, respectively.

“It was a great day all around,” said Boys Coach Peter Dion. “It’s been six months since they raced last – they loved it. They can’t wait for the next race on Saturday, Oct. 6, at EGHS.”

(Here’s a video interview with Reese Fayhs on OceanStateRunners.com.)

Soccer and field hockey don’t start league play for another week but the teams are happy to be back on the field, practicing. 

For field hockey coach Deb McMullen, the short season and small groups are a challenge, “but we’re trying to keep a positive mindset. We’re here.” 

As the mother of an EG football player, McMullen is well aware that her players are lucky to be playing at all (football has been pushed to a late-winter, early-spring slot, fingers crossed).

Usually by now, they are halfway through their season. This year, the field hockey team has just six league games, though EG is allowed to arrange non-league games. 

They have been encouraged to keep varsity and JV squads separate and small, so one virus diagnosis won’t take down a huge number of kids. That’s a different way of doing things. There’s a lot of that this year. 

But the defending D1 state champs are focused, as ever, on playing strong. Their first game is Monday, Oct 12, at Barrington. They play their first home game Wednesday, against LaSalle. 

Karen Lockhart is back for her second year as head coach of the Avengers Girls Soccer team but her fourth in EG  – she coached at Cole for two years before taking over at the high school. 

“What’s great is I’ve been able to see these kids come up through the program from the middle school. To see them now as upperclassmen is really special.”

The team dropped down to D2 this year but Lockhart said some of their non-league match ups are still scheduled, with La Salle, South Kingstown and North Kingstown.

“We struggled last year but we got a lot better as the season went on. We started to build the right kind of culture. Luckily, we only lost two players [to graduation]. We’re coming back really strong with some great senior leadership.”

The Girls Soccer team plays Westerly at home Saturday. The Boys Soccer team plays South Kingstown at home Tuesday, Oct. 13.

 

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