A group of kids playing football on a field.

High School sports beginning – John Cardullo

by John Cardullo, sportswriter

The High School Fall Season tradition is ready to take off! It is time to go and support the hometown teams and their athletes!

Before the first leaf turns and falls to the ground, the 2023-24 high school sports season is set to begin. What used to traditionally start after Labor Day, it isn’t uncommon for most high school sports to begin before the month of August is through. Many believe the reason is because there are more classifications in all the sports, and more teams can make it into the play-offs, the RIIL needs more time to complete the play-off and championship tournament process. This prevents crossover seasons with the winter sports schedule which will begin by early to mid-December.

It is with the renewal of the school year’s hopes and dreams for student athletes that teams and coaches look upon a fresh start to the season. Teams that were successful last season look upon continuing that success and beginning a tradition. Teams that finished the season on the edge of success last season come into the new year with higher expectations, and the teams that had a tough year starts their season with a sense of renewed energy and a positive attitude that this maybe their year! Something for everyone!

The Rhode Island Interscholastic League has worked on a formular that will level the playing field (so to speak) for those teams that cannot play against the top teams in the state but dominate the lesser teams. This allows teams to have a certain expectation of success as they compete against similar teams for division and classification championships.

It is no secret that teams such as Bishop Hendricken, LaSalle, North Kingstown, and even Central, can play and succeed at the very top level in football against each other on a regular basis. But to place other lower class level teams on that same level will be setting those teams up for failure. There are many reasons that this is so.

Reason one is that the population of each school district is different, and the athletic pool is smaller than say an inner-city school such as Central. Then add into the mix that schools such as Hendricken and LaSalle are private and can welcome students from the entire state. Then have schools such as North Kingstown become regional schools that offer a wide variety of life courses reduces the pool even smaller, the RIIL had no choice but to expand the classification of play level in all sports. This gives teams whose sports programs are on a rise the chance to move up and build their programs by challenging themselves by being able to compete with other teams on that level; on the other hand, if a team in any given sport has a difficult time competing for some reason at the higher level. The reason may vary; they will be reviewed on what they achieved over a couple of seasons and if the trend is a downward trend, they will be dropped down a classification. This will allow the team to rebuild and compete and perhaps move back up in the next reclassification cycle.

The reasoning behind this formula is to have teams safely compete against teams on the same skill level as the other schools. More often the case than not the RIIL has made the correct decision and the teams in this formula have blossomed. Some teams in some cases overachieved and did better as in case where some teams didn’t do as well and went into the opposite direction. The bottom line is that school sports is an important part of the fabric of the high school spirit. Not only for the athlete, but for the student body.

Homecoming games and senior nights are as important to the school’s tradition as raising a championship banner. The fact is that teams will have good years, and some will have bad years, and most will have a mixture of both. The student athlete will move onto the next level when they graduate and go on to college.

Most athletes moving to play sports in college often have decided that studying for what will be their career is more important than playing sports and they have come to terms with that. If they are able to still have a college sports career, even better! Most student athletes have come to terms with the fact that their athletic careers are coming to an end by the time they graduate from high school, so they try to make the most of their high school careers and they want to experience every moment before it comes to an end. Anything after high school is just the cherry on top of the sundae!

Traditionally, it is the first week in September that the Fall season begins, and all high school teams are preparing for their Injury fund exhibition events. The Injury Fund is the chance for every high school’s fall teams to step onto the field of competition for the first time since the last season ended. The athletes are filled with great anticipation as they look ahead with a renew sense of expectations of what is to be. It is time to join them and support them as they compete. So, as long as the season seems to be for them from the beginning, in reality it is over in a blink of an eye! All that’s left is for the players to get ready!

Get set! And play! – John


John Cardullo, sportswriter

Posted in ,