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It is tradition for me on Thanksgiving to look back, look around me, and appreciate the positive experiences and connections I have in life. Particularly, this year has been very special as a writer and baseball fan here in Rhode Island. We all have a lot to be thankful for – my family, my health, my sanity (most days) – and I want to add my connections and friendships I have made in 2018 covering baseball here in Rhode Island. Here is my Thanksgiving salute to baseball as I covered it in 2018:
T – Ten U Division Warwick Continental won the District 3 title, then captured the RI State title and advanced to Eastern Regionals tournament. They made it to the finals, losing to Team MA. What an incredible season for Warwick Continental American Little League.
H – Hops Athletic Performance in Coventry is an incredible baseball, softball, and training facility. Their staff are former college and professional baseball players. Matt Hopkins is a trust resource for baseball, rehabilitation, training, and more.
A – ATC Performance Facility in Pawtucket is full service baseball and training facility. Run by Bobby Rodericks of East Providence High School, ATC offers baseball players the opportunity to get infield practice, batting practice, pitching sessions in a clean and upbeat environment.
N – Narragansett Little League (10U Urwin Tournament winners) have two of my nephews, Jackson and Finley, on their team. I look forward to watching them progress through Little League and AAU tournaments.
K – King Philip Little League, their 11U Division team won the District 2 title, then went on to win the States, and enter the Eastern Regional Tournament in Beverly, MA. A strong showing by this exciting team from Bristol, RI has everyone dreaming about a possible run to South Williamsport, PA in 2019.
S- South Williamsport, PA was the host city for Coventry Little League and the Little League World Series. Coventry steamrolled through the District 3 tournament, dominated the States, crushed the competition in the Eastern Regionals to become the New England entry into the Little League World Series. Their run captivated all of Rhode Island this summer and it was amazing meeting the parents and coaches of Coventry Little League.
G- GLG Performance in Cumberland is a baseball training facility with a ton of character. GLG or Get Large Garage is run by Jason Oldham along with a number of expert coaches and trainers. Professional baseball players work out alongside middle school baseball players – all helping each other get stronger, get faster, get better, one rep at a time. The energy in the room is electric.
I – Indoor training facilities and their talented trainers. I met Gary Howard, Jr and Mark Cahill and so many talented baseball minds this year. These trainers and baseball coaches are enthusiastic, experts in movement, and use technology like HitTrax and other software to make your swing better, your pitching more efficient, and your body more in tune with itself.
V – Volunteers, so many to mention and I do not want to offend a single one of you. From cutting the grass to organizing fundraisers for tournament buses to pitching home run derby – the list goes on and on. Rhode Island has some of the best volunteers working in youth sports and it was my pleasure and honor to have met all of you!!!
I – Ian Kinsler and the 108 win, World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. As a Red Sox fan, I never doubted that you would wind up champions. All season long, you took it one game at a time. In the tough games, you took it one at bat at a time. Congratulations on a historic season.
N – North Kingstown/Wickford Little League has been my sons’ home base for 10 years for my 3 boys. It has been an incredible journey that has taken me off the sidelines and into the dugouts, to watch first hand the game of baseball up close and personal. I look forward to many more years of teaching our youth baseball players the right way to play the game.
G – Gulls and Waves, our two New England Collegiate Baseball League teams. The Newport Gulls and the Ocean State Waves are just amazing organizations top to bottom. Their players and coaches give us incredible baseball on the field and truly incredible community service off the field. Congratulations to both organizations for making Rhode Island summer baseball so special.
Thank you to all the coaches, players, organizations, leagues, sponsors, and businesses that support baseball here in Rhode Island. From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving to all.