This past week, it was announced that James Sweeney would be taking over as head coach of the Cranston West boys basketball program. Matt Fontaine coached the Falcons last year, but walked away in …
This past week, it was announced that James Sweeney would be taking over as head coach of the Cranston West boys basketball program. Matt Fontaine coached the Falcons last year, but walked away in April when his family decided it was time to relocate to Connecticut.
This transaction was not much of a surprise, but I like the move and I believe that it represents what high school sports should be about. Let me explain.
Sweeney graduated from West back in 2014 and has been involved with the school ever since. He has assisted in multiple sports and was the program’s junior varsity coach the last few seasons. He also helps out at Cranston Western Little League.
When speaking to him regarding the hire, his excitement was evident in getting the job while also being proud to continue to represent his alma mater and home town.
This is what high school sports are all about. Community and pride. Sweeney is a big contributor in the Cranston West community and is proud to be a Falcon. The part of our conversation that resonated with me the most was when he said that some coaches look to climb the ladder, they try to go as far as they can in the ranks. Meanwhile, his dream position is the one he just earned, he is totally satisfied with leading the Falcons.
What a story and what an accomplishment. Most people never get the opportunity to coach their hometown schools, but he is getting his first crack at it at a young age. He played his hand right every step of the way.
In terms of the coaching fit on the floor, it also makes a ton of sense. Sweeney knows each and every kid on the Falcons’ roster and has coached each of them hands on. A lot of their skills and knowledge he developed.
The Falcons were rebuilding last year and missed the playoffs. They reached the playoffs the season before and were one of the better teams in the division, but last year was one of those transitional years that schools have once in awhile.
Sweeney is taking over at a good time. The kids now have some experience under their belts but are also still on the young side and learning the way. He will be able to mold them into the team that he envisions while also knowing that they have played enough minutes to find their own way when needed as well. West has a ways to go, but Sweeney is taking over at a time that may just be perfect.
The other thing that stood out to me was the support in the community when we broke the story. The social media posts spread fast and people from all over voiced their excitement. Whether it was current West coaches, former coaches, current and former players, other local figures. It was obvious that it was a popular decision as well.
This hire just made too much sense to not go through with. West is hiring a coach with experience, intimate knowledge of the roster, and is respected and loved by the school community. It really was the perfect hire.
Another Cranston item that I wanted to touch on was the West girls track team winning the Class A title at the Class Championships.
Recently I gave my midseason thoughts and one of them was to not sleep on the Falcons. I have covered sports in Rhode Island for four years now, and the West girls have always been in the mix. However, it always felt like they were just one step away.
Could this be the spring that they finally cross that bridge and win it all? As of now, after last weekend’s outing, it is hard not to consider them the favorites. They were well-represented across the board, have depth, there is no reason to think that they can’t repeat what they just did.
Again, this is a cool story to me because I always root for the teams that pay their dues. West has been knocking on the door for a few years now and has had some standout athletes. Everything seems to be going its way with just one more meet left, and a state title seems to be on the horizon.
I also failed to mention that it was the team’s first-ever Class A win. When looking at previous years, it seems like teams win in bunches. La Salle had a big streak not too long ago, as did both North and South Kingstown. West has some athletes, like Ailani Sutherland, that will be returning next year. Are we about to see the beginning of a big, multi-year run here?
Speaking of which, shout out to the Bishop Hendricken boys for winning the Class A title as well. This is never really a surprise, but they continue to roll and were able to hold off La Salle. It was the 44th straight Class A title that the Hawks have one, which is astonishing.
One thing that I have learned when it comes to track, is that it truly matters who performs the best on the day of. Of those 44 years, Hendricken won the state title 26 times. In the past eight years, none of the girls Class A winners have won the state title.
I’m not back pedaling here, I believe that the Falcons and the Hawks are the frontrunners. I just thought it was interesting to see the lack of correlation there. Each of these teams will have all the pieces to take home titles in next month’s state championship at Brown, so we’ll see.
It should be a fun finish across all sports here. June is one of the most exciting times of the year.
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