Hendricken Hawks – a tradition of excellence

By John Cardullo, sports writer

For 60 years Bishop Hendricken has dominated the Rhode Island High School sport scene and there is no end in sight!

Bishop Hendricken High School was founded back in 1959 as an all-male, Catholic college pre high school. Founded by the Brothers of the Holy Cross and named in honor of Thomas F. Hendricken (the first Roman Catholic Bishop in Providence). The school’s motto remains “Catholic Values Fostering a Tradition of Excellence”

And so, it began, the State of Rhode Island longest running total high school sports dynasty. Currently the total of Hendricken’s state championship’s is at 242. The run began in 1965 when the wrestling team won the schools first ever state championship (their current total in wrestling stands at 12), the football followed in 1968, winning the first of 14 total State Championships. Running off streaks of 2,3 and 7 championships in a row. Then like flood gates bursting Baseball won it’s first championship in 1977 and amassed 22 more, Cross Country in 1978 joined the party and took home 24 State titles and in 1979 both Outdoor track (whose total now stands at 25) and basketball (17 total) checked in with titles of their own. It wasn’t hard to see that not only was Hendricken drawing students from all over the state who were committed to academics, but they were also getting the serious athlete to come to their school.

Hendricken played at the State’s highest level from day one. The school doesn’t apologize for their success as they play in the Rhode Island Interscholastic leagues along with 99% of all secondary schools in the state. Hendricken is fully aware that when it comes to them, the haters will always hate!

They find in addition to drawing some of the best athletes the state has to offer, they also attract some of the state’s brightest minds, students that are there to go on to a college that will prepare them in their chosen field. The community that the school has built is full of pride for the student’s success in the classroom as well as in the athletic arena. But the success the teams and individuals have has has also set up an “us vs them” mentality, which for the student athletes provides a moral and a support system that few schools truly experience. The “Hawks” have a very rich history and they have attracted the very best in coaches that the area had to offer. Many of the coaches had attended and played sports for Hendricken and have come back to coach the Hendricken way.

The school has won state championships in every sport that they have ever participated in. In addition to the aforementioned sports Hendricken has won 5 State Championships in Golf, 7 in Tennis, 5 in Lacrosse, 4 in Soccer, 6 in Ice hockey, 28 in Indoor Track, 32 in Swimming, 8 in Volleyball, 5 in Unified Volleyball and 1 in Unified Basketball (the Unified program is one of the RIIL newest athletic programs which combine partners playing along side of special needs athletes. It also has become the state’s fastest growing programs). Hendricken also provides two “Club” sports for student athletes: Rugby and Sailing, which with a few more participating schools jumping in could well be expanded to a RIIL sport.

You would expect that with the success of Hendricken’s sports program other schools would be intimidated and avoid playing Hendricken. You would be surprised to learn that is not the case. And except for the “older” brother and bitter rival, LaSalle Academy, most public schools like playing the “Hawks” just to see were they measure up against the best. They also know that when you play Hendricken on any given day, college scouts will be in the stands to recruit a Hawk and if the opponent has a standout performance, well you never know, scouts talk to other scouts.

Yes, there are occasions where the little guy, the underdog, beats the giant! Such was the case last March when the Cumberland Clippers beat the Hendricken basketball team in the divisional play-off’s opening the door later for the North Kingstown Skippers to have their “bright shining” moment in the State Championship tournament when the knocked off Hendricken in the semi-finals and beating Woonsocket for the State title.  These events will be talked about by both schools and fans for many years to come, they are what legends are made of. For the Hendricken team, they took the loss with style and class and gave all the credit to Cumberland and North Kingstown but knowing that the loss will remain with the returning players throughout the Summer and into the next season. This should serve as motivation as they make another run at another State Championship.

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