NHL coach brings pro-level strength and conditioning training to Mount Saint Charles athletic program
WOONSOCKET, R.I., May 6, 2019 – The same strength and conditioning training that helped get the Boston Bruins into the NHL playoffs is coming to the Mount Saint Charles Academy athletic program.
Michael Macchioni, sport performance coach for the Bruins, is taking on the same role at Mount. Mr. Macchioni and his staff at Northeast Sports Training (NEST) in Warwick bring experience in training, nutrition and physical therapy typically only seen in professional sports and Division 1 college programs. Their job will be to help Mount athletes perform at peak strength, speed and endurance while learning to avoid injuries.
“Mike and his staff have decades of experience creating programs to help athletes train at the pace and intensity that’s exactly right for them. They’ll be an incredible asset helping student athletes develop solid training regimens that complement their athletic skills and drive to excel,” said Mount Saint Charles President Alan Tenreiro.
Mr. Macchioni and the NEST staff will be at Mount daily developing and supervising individualized conditioning programs for Mount athletes. Like the programs NEST develops for professional athletes, Mount’s training programs will be based on scientific principles of anatomy, physiology and kinesiology. The objective is to understand what stage of physical development each athlete is at, then tailor a program using appropriate exercises and means of resistance, according to Mr. Macchioni.
“When you’re working with younger athletes, it’s not about chronological age. You have to assess their physiological age in order to design safe and effective programs,” he said. “We’ll do an initial assessment of every athlete we work with to determine strengths and weaknesses. Then we’ll build pre-season, in-season, post-season and off-season training programs and do two tests per year to re-assess the programs.”
Mr. Macchioni, a Merrimack College graduate, is a student of strength and conditioning pioneer Mike Boyle. He has worked with athletes from the National Hockey League, National Football League, Major League Baseball, and is a former strength and conditioning coach at Providence College. Mr. Maccihioni is a past state president of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and USA Weightlifting. Other members of his staff have degrees in exercise and sports science, kinesiology (the study of body movement) and nutrition.
Adding professional-level training is the latest major change in Mount’s innovative programming over the last two years. The school has added equestrian, figure skating and gymnastics programs, revamped its training and athletic facilities, and launched a new hockey program.
“We want our athletes to have every possible opportunity to make the most of their talents, whether they’re playing for the love of the game or they’re shooting for the pros. Strength, endurance and resilience are part of sports, and with Mike Macchioni’s training Mount athletes will have the physical tools they need to compete at any level,” Mr. Tenreiro said.
Spiking Back: Meghan Valentine's journey
05/05/19 Brendan McGair - Woonsocket Call
WOONSOCKET – Why is a girl playing as a member of this spring’s Mount St. Charles boys’ volleyball team?
After three seasons as a core member of the Mounties girls’ squad that made several deep runs at the state championship, Meghan Valentine this season emerged as a member, and then as a key contributor, of the MSC boys’ team. The questions were obvious, the answers less so.
On a recent Monday afternoon, Valentine sat in the hallway outside the Mount gymnasium along with her parents Peter and Kathy, and MSC volleyball head coach Josh D’Abate. They were there to support Valentine as she talked to a reporter about her months-long battle with anorexia.
The novelty of Valentine playing with the boys’ team was ultimately just a minor footnote in a story of a teenage girl fighting for her life against a potentially deadly illness. Though, maybe not that minor of a footnote.
“You can tell she enjoys being back out there. We hadn’t seen that in a long time,” said Kathy Valentine. “She’s very happy when she’s playing volleyball.”
Valentine is a bright, outgoing 18-year-old who this coming fall will attend Purdue University. And for years, that was the Meghan Valentine that her parents, her teachers, coaches and friends saw. On the volleyball court, she was cool under pressure as a setter and server.
But last spring, that version of Valentine disappeared and was replaced by someone consumed by a different type of pressure. This time, the pressure wasn’t from setting up a volleyball teammate for a kill, or delivering an on-target serve. It came from Valentine looking in the mirror and not liking what she saw.
“My whole life, I’ve never been confident about my body,” said Valentine. “I decided I wanted to change it.”
Valentine had her sights set on wearing a particular dress to the junior prom.
Meghan Valentine, second from right, stands with her parents Peter, far left, Kathy, second from left, and Mount St. Charles volleyball head coach Josh D’Abate, far right.
Photo by Brendan McGair
“It wasn’t my size, but it was a pretty dress,” she said.
Valentine yearned to fit into the dress. She began exercising nonstop, whether it was running or attending spin class. She restricted her food intake, sometimes going a full 24 hours between meals.
“My lips would turn blue and I was cold all the time,” said Valentine about some of the warning signs that told her what she was doing was unhealthy.
Though Valentine had never been overweight, some of her peers complimented her for getting slimmer. Although perhaps well-meaning, she said the compliments reinforced her choices at the time. She continued to go down a dangerous path of limited eating and strenuous activity.
One day last summer, Valentine came home from the beach and asked her mom to put lotion on her. It was, for Kathy Valentine, a shocking discovery. Her daughter had lost 40 pounds in a three-month span. When the 5-foot-6 Valentine stepped on the scale, she weighed less than 100 pounds.
“We just didn’t notice it until that point,” said Kathy Valentine. “I wouldn’t want to see someone else go through this, let alone my own child.
“It turns your life upside down,” she added. “Tears were shed. Fights were had.”
Meghan insisted that nothing was wrong, but her parents saw it differently. She was enrolled at Boston Children’s Hospital in late August, this after spending time at another residential treatment facility that diagnosed her with having an eating disorder.
“She wasn’t herself. She wasn’t the Meghan we knew … someone who’s very upbeat and friendly,” said Peter Valentine.
The eating disorder also affected her volleyball skill set, which pained Valentine to no end. At Mount St. Charles, she went from a total novice as a freshman – “I was very bad,” Valentine recalls with a laugh – to improving over time.
“Success came to her because she worked hard. Like any job, Meghan did everything that was asked of her,” explained MSC coach D’Abate. “She wasn’t a ‘I know, I know’ player.”
When D’Abate saw Valentine at open gym practices during the summer, he could see in Valentine’s face that she had lost weight. It wasn’t until the coach talked with her parents that he learned about her battle, and that she would lack the strength to compete at a high level.
It was hard to watch.
“To see her sit there on the sidelines and not be able to compete, it was tough,” said D’Abate.
Valentine knows exactly when and where she was when she hit rock bottom. On a September 2018 night after a school dance, she was at a friend’s house for a sleepover. Instead of having a good time, Valentine couldn’t allow herself to manage even the slightest of smiles.
“I couldn’t laugh. I couldn’t do anything,” Valentine recalled.
The cry for help was there. This time, the decision was made to take Valentine out of Mount and enroll her in the Cambridge Eating Disorder Center.
“I went in with a positive attitude,” said Valentine. “I’m going to eat everything on my plate and I’m going to get better.”
Her parents served as an emotional buoy. Not a day went by in the six weeks Valentine spent at the Cambridge, Mass. facility that Peter and Kathy Valentine didn’t make the drive from their Milford home to see their daughter. Valentine’s friends also took the time to visit her. She succeeded in keeping up with her school work thanks to her understanding teachers.
“Everyone was super supportive,” said Valentine.
Still, if Meghan was going to get better, she was going to have to commit to changes.
Understandably, Meghan was shy during her first few weeks at the Cambridge Center. As time went on, she opened up more, and took advantage of the treatments. Valentine realized she wasn’t alone in her struggle, and that it affected many more people than she could have guessed. Her roommate at Cambridge was 13 and the youngest girl in the therapy group sessions was age 12.
“I learned that eating disorders were a lot more common,” she said.
In order to build up Meghan’s motivation in facing the challenges in front of her, her dad offered up a proposal. He suggested she try to play volleyball in the spring. In the hospital, that’s all that Meghan needed to hear.
“You have to believe in second chances,” said Valentine.
Mount St. Charles senior Meghan Valentine (9) gets in position to set up one of her teammates during a recent Division I match against South Kingstown. Valentine is a member of this spring’s MSC boys’ volleyball team.
Photo by Jerry Silberman / risportsphoto.com
“That’s all she’s been talking about since this whole process began … how much she missed volleyball and how much she wanted to get back to it,” said Kathy Valentine. “When the opportunity was presented to her that there was a possibility she could play with the boys in the spring, she stepped it up and was really motivated to get healthy and get back into shape.”
On Halloween, after completing the program, Meghan departed the Cambridge Center. Her first stop was Chili’s to take part in a scavenger hunt with the Mount girls’ volleyball team.
“I can’t tell you how happy I was,” said Valentine. “I love volleyball. I was so excited to start playing again.”
Valentine was able to get her volleyball fix by practicing with the Mount girls during the final few weeks of the 2018 season. In the winter, she played on the MSC varsity girls’ basketball team in an effort to get back to a healthy weight and maintain it.
“Now I’m working on intuitive eating,” said Valentine, a sign that she’s making peace with food. “When I’m hungry, I can eat a piece of cake rather than just an apple.”
The school administration and coaching staff were on board with Peter Valentine’s plan to allow Meghan to compete on the boys’ team. They all agreed that Meghan’s health was the top priority. Then D’Abate just had to determine her role.
“One position we had a desperate need for was setter,” said D’Abate. “Basically she runs our team.”
With the Mountie volleyball girls, Valentine was part of squads that routinely reached the Division I semifinals. This year’s Mount boys’ squad is in rebuilding mode after graduating just about every core player from last year’s state title winner. Valentine is the lone senior on the boys’ roster, so her leadership and knowledge have served the team well.
“Right now they don’t understand the game as well, but it’s definitely cool,” said Valentine when asked about her status as the lone girl on the squad. “There’s less drama. Plus, they’re funny.”
Valentine could have kept her story to herself, but opted to go public as a way to warn others about the risks of eating disorder. If Valentine’s story can make just one person understand what the fight against eating disorders entails – you don’t have to struggle alone – then she believes her willingness to come forward will have been well worth it.
“It’s something that could be a lifetime problem,” said Valentine. As her senior year winds down, she’s focused on helping her team and completing her senior year studies. “I’m no longer worried about fitting into dresses,” proclaimed Valentine. Proof that Valentine is truly comfortable with the best version of herself.
Rival split series
04/18/19 Branden Mello - Woonsocket Call
WOONSOCKET — Mount St. Charles senior infielder Isaiah Lee and Woonsocket junior pitcher Latrell Lopez have been friends for six years dating back to their time in Woonsocket Little League and their time together on the AAU circuit with the Ocean State Outlaws.
That’s why Lee’s home run to lead off the second inning of the Mounties’ intracity showdown with the visiting Novans meant a little more to the senior.
“Latrell’s been my best friend for five or six years, so it felt pretty good hitting a home run off of him,” Lee said. “That ball felt really good off the bat.”
For the third straight Division II home-and-home series, the Mounties secured a split. Junior righty Ryan Kenney worked around some mistakes in the opening inning to throw a complete game, while Bryan Testa and Jake Meisner sparked the offense with two-run hits in the opening inning of a 7-5 victory over the talented Novans Thursday morning.
“The big thing for us is we have to stop making the mental mistakes and the physical mistakes that are costing us in games,” Mount coach Paul Jacques said of his team’s up-and-down start to the season. “Woonsocket put the bat on the ball in the first inning, but we didn’t make the plays and that led to some runs in the first inning. We need to keep getting better at that in practice.”
Woonsocket (4-2 Division II) wasted a superb day from senior Hezekiah Adeyeye at the plate and on the mound. Adeyeye went 2-for-4 with a double, a triple and a pair of runs scored. Matt Green belted a solo home run in the fourth inning and Peter Santana had three hits and scored a run, but Woonsocket coach Tommy Brien felt too many of his kids fell into the trap of trying to hit home runs to left field, which was shortened this season to make room for dorms for Mount’s hockey academy.
The Novans struck out looking six times, including three times in the fifth inning, which was a bad sign for Brien.
“Too many of the kids were trying to hit the ball out of the park and they weren’t doing what they should’ve been doing at the plate,” Brien said. “The big thing for us right now is we have a lot of individuals on the team, but we need everyone to come together as a team if we’re going to win games.”
Mount St. Charles (3-3 Division II) ran into some trouble in the first inning when Santana and Lopez delivered back-to-back one-out singles and Adeyeye loaded the bases when he reached on an error. Kenney walked sophomore Nick Strojny to score the first run of the game and Nick Iarussi followed with an RBI single to plate Lopez.
Outside of the two big hits from Adeyeye and the homer from Green, Kenney was superb over the final six innings. The righty struck out eight batters and didn’t walk a Novan after the free pass to Strojny.
“He pitched unbelievable for us, that’s what we needed,” Jacques said. “He settled himself down after the first inning and dominated from that point on. He found his rhythm as the game went on and I believe this is his first varsity win. He’s learned how to pitch and get it under control.”
Lopez allowed the first four Mount runners to reach base, but it wasn’t all the righty’s fault. After Lee singled to lead off, Trey Bourque reached base on an error and Everett Misto singled to load the bases. Testa followed with a two-run single to tie the game and Meisner drove in Testa and Dan Johnson to give the Mounties a lead they would never relinquish.
Lee increased the lead to 5-2 with his home run, but Adeyeye doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Iarussi to make it 5-3. The teams exchanged runs in the fourth inning before Adeyeye came in and settled down the Novans. The righty struck out two batters and allowed three hits in 2.2 innings of relief.
Woonsocket’s best chance to come back came in the sixth inning when Santana hit a two-out single to center and moved to third on a single by Lopez. Jacques went out to the mound to settle down his pitcher and Brien thought the Mounties were going to walk Adeyeye after belting a pair of extra-base hits in his last two at-bats.
Jacques elected to pitch to Adeyeye, but before the senior could swing, Bourque threw out Lopez trying to steal second to end the threat.
“I thought they were going to walk Hezey and load the bases, I was surprised,” Brien said. “On the steal – I don’t argue balls and strikes and umpire’s decisions – but I thought he was safe from my angle. I’ll give the catcher credit because he made a good throw and they got the out.”
Woonsocket is back in action this morning at 11 when North Providence comes to Renaud Field. Brien said Strojny will make the start after pitching against Mount earlier this week. Jacques said Lee will start tomorrow morning’s game against undefeated St. Raphael at Vets Park.
Woonsocket 201 110 0 – 5 10 3
Mount St. Charles 411 100 x – 7 11 2
Latrell Lopez, Hezekiah Adeyeye (4) and Sean Analundi; Ryan Kenney and Trey Bourque. HR – MSC, Isaiah Lee; W, Matt Green
Valley squads earn D-2 victories
04/12/19 Woonsocket Call
LEE DELIVERS FOR MOUNT
WOONSOCKET — Mount St. Charles senior Isaiah Lee allowed two unearned runs in six innings of work and he also went 4-for-5 with three runs scored to lead the Mounties to a 12-2 Division II victory over Wheeler Friday afternoon to earn a home-and-home split.
Mount St. Charles (2-2 Division II) trailed by a run going into the fourth inning when Dan Johnson, who was 3-for-5 with three RBIs, laced a two-run single to score Chris Derick and Lee to put the Mounties ahead for good. Catcher Trey Bourque scored on a Bryan Testa single and Johnson scored later in the play on an error.
Lee handled the rest, striking out six batters and scattering six hits to earn the victory. Johnson pitched the seventh to secure the victory. The Mounties scored seven runs in the seventh inning against relievers Zach Levy and Joe Boushell.
The Mounties are back in action Tuesday at 5 p.m. when they begin their intra-city series with Woonsocket at Renaud Field. Senior Alex Gonfrade will toe the rubber for the visitors opposite either Nick Strojny or Hezekiah Adeyeye.
Mount St. Charles 100 400 7 – 12 15 1
Wheeler 002 000 0 – 2 8 2
Isaiah Lee, Dan Johnson (7) and Trey Bourque; Parrek, Zach Levy (4), Joe Boushell (7) and Nick Avalos.
2019 Baseball Preview
By Brendan McGair & Jon Baker - Woonsocket Call
It’s a back-to-back and a belly-to-belly.
No, it’s not the 1950s musical tune featuring The Charmer with the Johnny McCleverty Calypso Boys. Nor are we talking about John Sterling’s preferred choice of radio dialogue when two consecutive New York Yankees hitters clout baseballs that leave the ballpark.
This has to do with the different scheduling flavor surrounding the R.I. interscholastic baseball scene.
From the pros straight down to the college ranks, baseball is a game that’s defined by series. Sometimes, the series lasts for two games. Generally, a series lasts three contests. Come playoff time in Major League Baseball, series are either best-of-five or best-of-seven.
“Baseball is meant to be a series. It’s not meant to be a matchup … my pitcher against your pitcher,” noted Lincoln High head coach Vin Zibelli. “Let’s line up your guys and my guys and see who’s the best.”
The art of familiarity awaits R.I.’s Division I and II participants. The 18-game league schedule has been broken down into facing the same team in back-to-back games within their corresponding subdivision. It’s a home-and-away deal that for the most part has been well received by the local hardball faction.
“To be honest, I’m looking forward to see how it plays out. Of course playing every team during the regular season is helpful, but in terms of a baseball series, it’ll be exciting to play teams home and away,” said Cumberland High head coach Andy Tuetken. “We’re going to get to know those teams very well which could be helpful down the line in the playoffs.”
Mount St. Charles head coach Paul Jacques added, “When it comes to baseball, the series are more realistic.”
North Smithfield mentor Jon Leddy stated, “This could lend itself to some rivalries that leads to some exciting games.”
Not everyone is gun-ho for this particular scheduling change.
“I don’t like back-to-back. It favors bigger schools. You want to pitch best guy against the best team in both games,” said St. Raphael head coach Tom “Saar” Sorrentine. “Now you can’t do that, but both teams are in the same boat.”
Facing the same team in consecutive games will place extra importance on team developing a dependable No. 2 starter. The pitcher who gets the nod in Game 2 will also be equipped with knowledge of how to attack the other side’s hitters thanks to his Game 1 compatriot. Many coaches like the idea of dealing with half as many schools as last year … if scheduling conflict comes up, you can simply flip-flop games.
“It’s like a mini-series,” said Tolman head coach Theo Murray. “You gather information and a day later, you play them again.”
Stated Sorrentine, “Your No. 2 pitcher has to be a solid guy.”
For those wondering, the eight schools that comprise Division III have been grouped as a singular unit. Those teams will adhere to a 17-game league schedule.
As for what local fans can expect, Lincoln and Cumberland should contend in Division I while those in the know believe that Tolman and Mount St. Charles are among the schools to watch in Division II. North Smithfield is the area’s lone squad to switch divisions while Woonsocket seeks to make the playoffs once again. Those who missed out on the postseason last year – St. Raphael, Burrillville, Davies Tech, Central Falls and Shea – hope to sing a different tune this time around.
MOUNT ST. CHARLES
Head coach: Paul Jacques
2018 league record: 9-9, tied for sixth place in Division II
2018 postseason results: Defeated Prout (6-5), lost to Chariho (10-0), lost to Scituate (3-2) in double-elimination round.
Key returnees: Christopher Derick, senior, OF/P; Alexander Gonfrade, senior, OF/P; Daniel Johnson, senior, INF/P; Isaiah Lee, senior, INF/P; Jake Meisner, senior, 1B/DH; Martin Piette, senior, INF; John Tselikis, senior, INF/P; Bryan Testa, junior, OF; Trey Bourque, junior, C; Thomas Burke, junior, OF/P; Anthony Cook, junior, INF; Ryan Kenney, junior, P; Everett Misto, junior, OF; Brendan Donahue, sophomore, OF; CeeJay Laquerre, sophomore, INF/P.
Notable newcomers: John Belisle, junior, 2B; Nicholas Platek, junior, INF/P.
Outlook: There’s no need to do a double take. Sans one graduating senior, the 2019 Mounties are a carbon copy of the 2018 edition. Having so many familiar faces in the fold allowed the coaching staff to use the preseason as a refresher course. “With so many returners, it was nice to not have to go over so many things. Tryouts and practices went a lot faster,” Jacques noted. “One of the preseasons practices we had, the kids knew exactly what needed to be done. I didn’t have to go over anything.” … The Mounties were counting on junior Tim Kenney to eat up innings on the mound but he won’t factor into the equation due to injury. He was the Mounties’ No. 5 hitter a year ago. … Gonfrade shared 2018 “ace pitcher” honors with Kenney. Now, the opportunity to have the mantle to himself is there. … Pitching-wise, Ryan Kenney, as a reliever, provided a lot of good innings last year and Mount hopes he’ll be able to perform a similar function this spring. … Jacques described his catcher Bourque “as a rock back there. He’s fundamentally strong and the pitchers enjoy throwing to him.” … A four-year varsity contributor, Johnson is locked in at the hot corner but could be in line to close games. … The newcomers Belisle and Platek provide options, whether we’re talking the infield or coming out of the bullpen. … Appointed as captains were Gonfrade, Johnson, Lee, and Meisner. … The middle lineup could feature Johnson in the No. 3 spot followed by Meisner and either Testa or Burke at No. 5.
Coach’s take: “It’s been a nice, simple, easy transition. Even the guys who are new to varsity, they proved to be quick learners,” Jacques said. “If everything comes together like I think it will, we should have a decent year.”
Mounties put away Townies
By Brendan McGair - Woonsocket Call
EAST PROVIDENCE – The defending state champion boys’ volleyball team from Mount St. Charles couldn’t have authored a better start to the new season.
With fresh faces abound, the Mounties started strong and went on to post an impressive 3-1 victory over Division I rival East Providence on Wednesday night. The scores were 25-10, 30-28, 14-25, 25-18.
The way the Mounties competed … you would never know the program is turning over a new leaf after a senior-laden squad captured the top prize a season ago. From serves to service receive to controlling the action at the net.
Mount made more smart plays than not en r route to kicking off this new era on a very positive note.
“This is a freshman and sophomore team. The only senior out there is Meghan Valentine,” noted MSC assistant coach Paul Gould. “They knew the rotations and that was a great first win for us.”
The aforementioned Valentine finished with 15 assists while sophomore Matt McGarry had eight assists. Sophomore Joe Lynch drove the Mountie offense for much of the evening on his way to racking up 20 kills.
Lynch was key in the first game but the Mounties also received contributions from sophomore Gerald Corrao and freshman Alexander Gasbarro on their way to vaulting out to a commanding 19-8 lead. At one point, MSC ripped off eight straight points with sophomore Kyle Farnesi supplying back-toback aces.
The second game featured a much tighter battle. Mount trailed by three on a couple of occasions before taking advantage of several errors by East Providence to even the score at 19-all. From there, it was a back-and-forth affair with a kill from Lynch giving MSC a 23-22 lead. The Townies fought back to grab a 25-24 lead but it was Lynch to the rescue once again.
Another mistake by East Providence forced another deadlock, this one at 28-28. Farnesi supplied the game-clincher as the Mounties moved to within one game of closing out EP.
“That showed experience beyond what they are. I don’t know where they got it,” Gould said. “(Head coach Josh D’Abate) and myself have been preaching the importance of making games long. We were able to reduce our errors.”
The Townies didn’t go down quietly and when junior Terrance Fry nailed down an ace, the East Providence lead in Game Three stood at 16-7. The Mounties did rally with three straight points before the home team found another surge to extend the match to a fourth game.
This time, it was Mount that was able to get off to a good start, jumping out to an 11-3 lead. East Providence got to within five (15-10) before a three-point run helped put the Mounties in clear at 22-13.
“We just stopped the runs in that final game,” Gould said. “We got out to a lead and if they get a point, let’s make sure we get a point and we’ll win the game.”
Mount is back in action tonight (6:30) at home against Coventry.
Softball Preview – Change of pitchers, coaches, divisions brings new look to Valley squads
By Branden Mello & Jon Baker - Woonsocket Call
WOONSOCKET — Change is inevitable, but not much has changed for many of the Blackstone Valley’s softball teams over the last four seasons.
If you went to Cold Spring Park you knew Woonsocket’s Lundyn Forcier would be in the circle. A trip to Tucker Field meant seeing Jocelyn Bodington deal, while a visit to North Smithfield meant watching Vanessa Venkataraman hurl and hit.
Those three have all moved on to college, but change isn’t just limited to the circle. After leading Mount St. Charles to two state finals and a Division II final, Cliff Matthews was replaced by former Burrillville Middle School coach Drew Brissette. There are also new coaches at Lincoln and Central Falls.
And, to add to the changes, North Smithfield will make its first appearances in Division I, while Mount St. Charles and Woonsocket switch divisions for the second time in three seasons. Davies Tech, the only Valley team to reach Rhode Island College last season, returned to Division II after reaching the Division III final last season.
Most of the Valley’s coaches are embracing the new journey they’re about to go on over the next 10 weeks.
“We’re trying to forge our own identity here,” Cumberland coach Marty Crowley said of his new-look squad. “We have a lot of girls out there with minimal varsity experience, but they’ve put their time in over the offseason and are ready to go. We’re on the kids about the tradition of this program and what it means to wear this uniform.”
“It’s been awesome, we’ve focused a lot on chemistry and building a team and starting over,” Brissette said. “We want to have fun and we’re really focused on being one. Coaching this group is fun because they definitely have a lot of talent. I don’t have to worry about anything other than the intense stuff and getting better.”
Division 1 - Mount Saint Charles
Key newcomers: Isabella Nadeau, junior, second base; Michaela Beaudoin, junior, outfield; Erin McGuire, junior, first base/outfield.
Outlook: After leading Burrillville Middle School to success for the last few seasons, Brissette is excited for the challenge of running a Division I program. Former coach Cliff Matthews didn’t leave the cupboard bare, as a number of key players who played in the 2017 Division II title game are back for another season. Senior captain Talia Williams and senior centerfielder Kaitlyn D’Abrosca are four-year starters who will provide speed and contact at the top of the order. The biggest revelation last season was the play of Woonsocket native Callie Thibault, who not only provided power in the middle of the order, but was impressive behind the plate. Thibault will split time with classmate Piper O’Connell at catcher. Junior lefty Marissa Tessier did the bulk of the pitching last season, but Victoria Young, who pitched in the D-II title game as a freshman, will also see plenty of time in the circle. Kaylie Leclair and Isabella Nadeau, who rejoined the team after not playing last season, will battle for the starting job at second base. O’Connell, Tessier and Erin McGuire can all play first base. Flanking D’Abrosca in the outfield will be sophomore Talia Fernandes and McGuire.
Coach’s take: “I’m excited because I think we have a good shot of being successful. We make goals for the team and we’re starting small – one win. It’s one game at a time. We have a goal of reaching the playoffs and there’s no doubt in my mind we’ll achieve it. We’ve thought about a slogan that would represent our team and I think what we’re going to go with is ‘United we stand on the Mount.’ It fits this team. All these girls are having fun and it’s not about individuals anymore – it’s a team.”
Mount Hockey Academy adds Creamer to coach staff
By Eric Rueb - Providence Journal
Next winter will be the first since the 1990s that former La Salle and Hendricken coach Jim Creamer won’t be the head coach of a boys hockey team.
Doesn’t mean he won’t be on the bench of a big-time program, though.
Friday Hendricken announced Creamer’s retirement as head coach and Monday confirmed the state’s worst-kept high school hockey secret — he’d be taking a job as associate coach for the Mount St. Charles Academy U15 team. Hendricken assistant Mike Soscia will take over the Hawks program.
“I’ve had a relationship with Devin Rask for a long time and it kind of grew out of that,” said Creamer, speaking of the Academy’s co-director. “I’m going to be an assistant coach there and this was an opportunity to decrease my responsibilities and time but I can still be involved at a high level.”
“We couldn’t be more pleased with what he brings with his on-paper resume and with his experience,” Mount St. Charles President Alan Tenreiro said. “He’s a great coach to have and to have come over and be a part of this.”
“To add a guy like Jim Creamer to our staff is an incredible opportunity we couldn’t pass up,” said Matt Plante, co-director of the Academy. “We’re fortunate to add him to our staff for what he brings and his ties to Rhode Island with the players here, especially the younger kids. We just feel he’s going to be a tremendous resource to our staff and our program.”
The job will keep Creamer on the bench but allow him the time to see his kids play hockey. His son Matthew plays at Connecticut College and other son, Patrick, plays for the University of Rhode Island. His daughter, Katie, plays for Bay View.
“With how things are going to be run with our 15 team, I think it made the most sense for him,” Plante said.
It’s going to be a different challenge for Creamer. The hockey academy is unlike anything the state’s seen so where it will lead him is still unknown.
“It’s a unique program at Mount St. Charles. It’s really going to be on the edge of where some of these programs are headed in the hockey world,” Creamer said. “It’s good to start out with them. I don’t know where that will lead, but it is a higher level of hockey and could give me some good opportunities.”
The Mount Academy starts its season in August and Plante said they’re still searching for one more coach to round out their staff. It won’t be easy to find another like Creamer, who didn’t want anyone to think he left Hendricken with ill intentions.
Serve’s up for volleyball
By Branden Mello - Woonsocket Call
WOONSOCKET — The Mount St. Charles, Woonsocket and Lincoln boys volleyball teams wouldn’t appear to have much in common.
While the Mounties are coming off a season where they won the program’s first state title, the cross-town rival Villa Novans just completed the program’s first varsity season. And Lincoln is a Division III squad that is searching for its first .500 season in over a decade.
So, what do these three programs have in common other than the fact that they started the new season on the same Mount court in the Injury Fund Thursday afternoon? A new identity.
For the last four seasons, Mount coach Josh D’Abate had the luxury of penciling All-Staters Brett and Dan Gould into his starting lineup. The talented twins helped the Mounties reach two state finals and defeat Hendricken in last season’s state final. They’ve moved on college and so did the rest of the starting lineup.
“We’re in the middle of rebuilding and retooling, but I wouldn’t call it a rebuilding year,” D’Abate said during the Mounties’ two-game split with the Novans Thursday. “We’ve got some good pieces like outside hitter Joe Lynch, who I think is going to be one of the top five or six players in the state. He’s solid. It’s going to be a learning year. We’re going to be coaching a lot during games and in practices. We’re not going to be able to just sit back and enjoy the game like we’ve done the last few years.”
For the first time in D’Abate’s tenure, the Mounties will be starting a girl on the boys varsity team. Meg Valentine, who missed the girls season, has the unenviable task of replacing Brett Gould, who was a multiple-time All-Stater. You’d think Valentine’s biggest challenge will be trying to slow down Division I outside hitters when she’s in the front row, but D’Abate said he’s not worried about that.
“I would say for most teams that would be a concern, but we haven’t had a 6-foot-5 right side in eight or nine years,” D’Abate said. “We’re kind of used to being short on the right side. Athletically, there’s a difference between Brett, Paul [Brodeur] and Megan, but we’re sort of used to it. The biggest thing for her is the pace of the game because the pace of the game here is much faster than girls Division I. We needed the experience at setter and we have a great person to be in that position.”
The rest of Mount’s lineup will feature kids who mainly sat on the bench and watched last season’s team win the state title. Lynch played some points last season, but he was playing behind seniors Nate Asstafan and Dan Gould.
Mount will be very young in the middle, but D’Abate likes the potential of sophomore Gerald Carrao and freshman Alex Gasbarro. D’Abate also hopes to have the services of sophomore Gary Kalmer, who would be the tallest member of the squad.
Sophomore Matt Badeau follows in a long line of talented Mount liberos. While D’Abate acknowledges Badeau isn’t yet at the level of Matt Melnychuk and Dan Gould, the veteran Mount coach believes Badeau has a chance to develop into an elite defensive specialist.
D’Abate believes Coventry is the title favorite and Mount will get a good look at the Oakers Thursday night in Woonsocket a day after opening the season against East Providence. The goal is to finish above .500 for the seventh straight season and advance to the playoffs.
“We’re young everywhere, but young doesn’t mean bad. Young just means you have to work,” D’Abate said. “Our goal is to be a playoff team this year. If we work hard, I think we can get there.”
HEADS UP: Despite concussion history, Mount St. Charles Jacob Maddalena continues to find ways to satisfy his insatitable desire to compete
03/24/19 By Brendan McGair - Woonsocket Call
WOONSOCKET – Three dates.
October 22, 2017.
March 9, 2018.
October 8, 2018.
Three jarring, life-changing instances where the event that transpired on those dates will never escape Jacob Maddalena. They’re committed to his personal catalog.
Cutting right to the heart of this difficult yet most serious matter, we’re talking about a 17-year-old junior at Mount St. Charles who has already suffered three concussions while playing sports.
That’s three – count ‘em one, two, three – scary episodes that have forced Maddalena to re-examine what’s important. Hence, the specific dates for the three concussions he’s sustained in just under a calendar year are not to be forgotten.
“I have a very good memory, which helps,” Maddalena said one day not too long ago, with Paul Jacques, his MSC soccer and indoor track head coach, sitting in close proximity.
You appreciate Maddalena’s candor in revealing what has happened to him. He’s a student-athlete whose strength, courage and skills place him on a different plane from many folks his age. He truly is a survivor because of all the challenges that go with the territory of enduring concussions, thus he knows he has a secondary duty to raise wider awareness of the dangers of becoming vulnerable in a split second.
Perhaps above all else, Maddalena owns a thirst for competition that’s so grand that nothing is going to keep him away. Not even concussions.
Especially not concussions.
“Bottom line, I just want to play something, be part of a team, and enjoy every minute of it,” Maddalena said.
He’s succeeded on all those fronts, though it’s been far from easy.
Hockey was Maddalena’s first love. His father Craig played the sport in college for Roger Williams University and instinctively, Jacob wanted to follow in his footsteps. The younger Maddalena started skating when he was three and picked up his first stick a year later.
A promising freshman season with the Mounties’ varsity hockey team was shelved when Maddalena dislocated his shoulder during his first shift of his first game. Two weeks later, he learned that he had torn 60 percent of the labrum in his shoulder. Surgery was required.
In October of 2017, Maddalena was back on the ice, skating pain-free for his club hockey team, nicknamed the Northstars and based in Westborough, Mass. It was with the Northstars when Maddalena suffered his first concussion, the result of an open ice hit.
“I didn’t see the kid at all. I just remember going down, hitting my head on the ice,” Maddalena said.
His helmet spun down to his chin, resulting in a cut that required four stitches. Turns out that was the least of Maddalena’s problems. He needed the assistance of his dad and a Northstars teammate just to walk to the car.
“I was able to skate off on my own power, but it wasn’t easy. I went down again as I approached the bench. I was dazed,” Maddalena said. “It was very scary. I had never felt more so out of it.”
He went to the hospital to get checked out, but soon Maddalena was back on his feet and skating, this time for Mount. He made it through the regular season of his sophomore year without a setback, but things took a dramatic turn for the worse during a March 2018 playoff game at Adelard Arena.
Once again, Maddalena fell victim to a blinding open ice hit. Just like a few months earlier, he was able to skate off on his own. The haziness and fogginess … the intensity ratcheted up so quickly that Maddalena knew right away what had come over him.
“I knew right away that, ‘Hey, I have another concussion,’” he said.
Once again, it was off to the hospital to get checked out. Tammy Maddalena, Jacob’s mother, pulled the car as close to the doors at Adelard as she could in an effort to reduce the number of steps her son had to walk. The actual car ride was short, yet proved quite alarming.
“My mom said she thought I was acting like someone who was drunk. I could not comprehend the conversation I was having with her. It was extremely frightening,” Maddalena recalled. “She said she had never seen me in a state like that.”
Of the three concussions, Maddalena rates the one that unfolded on the ice sheet at Adelard Arena as the worst one by far. Standing at 6-foot-2, one would figure Maddalena would be an intimidating presence on the blue line. Instead of playing defense, he was a winger who could anticipate plays … knowing where the rebound was heading regardless of where the puck happened to be traveling.
After two concussions over a six-month span, Maddalena made the tough call to hang up his skates for good.
“It was a very difficult conversation to have with my parents, but it was in my best interest to no longer play hockey,” said Maddalena, admitting that it’s hard to attend Mount hockey games and run into folks who will tell him they would love to see him out there.
One sport and the memories that were forged had been permanently tucked away for safe keeping. For Maddalena, it was simply on to the next opportunity. For him, that was soccer, specifically as the goalie. As a sophomore for Mount, Maddalena turned in a body of work to merit a second-team all-division selection.
Regardless of the sport, there appeared no limit to his athletic prowess.
MSC’s Jacques was aware of Maddalena’s concussion history. If the coach saw Maddalena struggling to keep pace during a preseason soccer drill, he wouldn’t hesitate to pull the teenager in an effort to make his life easier.
“It’s always about erring on the side of safety,” Jacques said.
On an October 2018 afternoon, the Mount boys’ soccer team ventured to West Warwick for a Division II contest. Maddalena was in goal and was in the process of securing a loose ball when he slid across the box. A West Warwick player was also in hot pursuit. Both heads ultimately collided.
It was a struggle to get Maddalena on his feet. He was slow to respond to Jacques’ line of questioning. How are you? Do you know where you are? His vision grew blurry in no time.
“We got him off the field as quickly as we could,” Jacques said, as Maddalena once again found himself complying with concussion protocol.
The possibility existed for Maddalena to return before the end of the soccer season. Ultimately, the short-term goals took a backseat to what would be in his best interest long-term.
“Jacob was very honest with me,” Jacques said. “He talked about life after soccer. To me, that was refreshing and showed a lot of maturity.”
Just like any person who has attempted to navigate their way around concussion symptoms, Maddalena in no time discovered that light and sound will prove irritating. Coming back to Mount St. Charles after his soccer-related concussion … good and bad days ran parallel.
“I had trouble focusing. At times, I couldn’t watch the projector,” Maddalena said. “I would miss classes to lie down in the nurses’ room in the dark.”
Still, Maddalena remained undeterred.
Why not try your hand at indoor track? At the very least, the chance of banging heads with a fellow competitor would be greatly reduced. Maddalena was quickly sold. It also helped that Jacques was the track coach, someone who could tell if Maddalena was struggling.
Jacob Maddalena, a junior at Mount St. Charles, stands with Paul Jacques, left. Jacques has coached Maddalena in soccer and indoor track, a sport that Maddalena participated in for the first time this past season.
Photo by Ernest A. Brown
As a first-time track participant this past winter, Maddalena was exposed to multiple events – hurdles, high jump and the 55-meter dash. He quickly took to the high jump and at a meet held in January, he nearly became the school’s record holder in the 55-dash, missing out by mere tenths of a second.
“His love of sports is so great. You can’t help but want to take advantage of his athleticism,” Jacques said.
Maddalena was poised to compete in the indoor class meet but felt less than 100 percent. Upon informing Jacques, Maddalena was scratched – with his coach’s blessing and support.
“In some instances where a student-athlete might get nervous going to a coach because they don’t know how the coach may react … we have a relationship where if he comes up and says something, I’m going to take him out right away,” Jacques said. “It’s about looking out for when he’s 30 or 40 years old. It’s not about winning a high-jump competition.”
It was early in the indoor track season when MSC athletic director Ray Leveille approached Maddalena about speaking at the concussion seminar the school staged earlier this year. To have a forum where he could share his own personal dealings with concussions in an effort to help others … Maddalena bought in.
“You let them know they’re not alone,” Maddalena said.
Maddalena has been knocked down repeatedly. He’s always managed to get up. This spring, he’s going to suit up for Mount’s lacrosse program. It’s unknown whether he’ll play soccer next fall when he becomes a senior at Mount.
“He wants to compete for his school. He has that individual piece where he’s always giving 100 percent,” Jacques said.
Maddalena is asked if he’s a survivor. He nods in the affirmative. Concussions are something he’s struggled to outrun at times, but he’ll be darned if they’re going to derail him completely.
“Every time I put on that Mount jersey, I’m going to do everything I can to help my school. That always comes first,” Maddalena said. “I’m an extremely competitive person and have always strived to be the best. If I can’t play one sport, I’m just going to find a new one.”