2009-12-31 / News

Islanders left their mark on the sports world in 2009

By Adrienne Downing

North Kingstown midfielder Nicole Perez, left, keeps the ball away from South Kingstown defender Lindsey Wallace during a September game. Photo by Caitlin Downing North Kingstown midfielder Nicole Perez, left, keeps the ball away from South Kingstown defender Lindsey Wallace during a September game. Photo by Caitlin Downing The year 2009 may have started with frosty 10-degree weather on Jan. 1, but it did not take long for Jamestowners to start burning up the sports world in the New Year.

Before 2009 was even two weeks old, islander Mike Spahr had broken the North Kingstown High School high jump record twice. Spahr became the first Skipper ever to clear six feet in the high jump with his second record-setting jump on Jan. 16.

Things continued to heat up when, on Jan. 28, the sailing center at Ft. Getty moved one step closer to reality during a joint workshop between town parties with interest in the Ft. Getty Master Plan and the Town Council. Although all aspects of the Ft. Getty improvement project were discussed, representatives from the Harbor and Planning Commissions, the recreation department, the Ft. Getty Committee and the Town Council agreed that the sailing center was the most attainable and fiscally manageable project on the list of improvements to the Jamestown landmark.

Shortstop Ryan Morris directs a play during a June play-off game against Bishop Hendricken. Photo by David Zapatka Shortstop Ryan Morris directs a play during a June play-off game against Bishop Hendricken. Photo by David Zapatka The plan was not without controversy, however, and the FAST Sailing Foundation withdrew its request for a sailing school partnership with Jamestown in August.

The Newport-based group expects to resubmit a proposal eventually, but, for now, the deal is off the table.

In February, the future of N.K.H.S. sports began to look uncertain. The N.K. school committee voted to reduce the high school athletic budget by more than $70,000, and followed that reduction with a move to eliminate freshman sports. Freshman football was restored in August, following the resignation of the Skippers’ 24-year athletic director, Keith Kenyon.

When the Skippers’ freshman girls’ basketball team headed to the play-offs in February, it was thought that it would be the last freshman girls’ team to play in North Kingstown. The team, which came back from a seasonstarting 0-4 record and included five islanders, hustled during the last part of the season to make the play-off run. Freshman basketball for the 2009-2010 season was not restored fully by the school committee until November.

High school athletic supporters, including many Jamestowners, came out in droves on Feb. 26 to protest the cuts to the athletic budget. So many people crowded the school committee meeting room that the meeting was shut down after 20 minutes and rescheduled to a later date.

Things on the island were looking up, however, when the Lawn Avenue School boys’ basketball team made the play-offs for the first time since the 2003 season. Eric Bush coached the boys to a 7-7 regular season record to guide the team to its first play-off berth.

A group of U10 girls’ players put Jamestown on the basketball map when they traveled to North Kingstown and came away with a tournament win. Islanders Julie Maguire, along with Sue Gaynor and Kevin Deacon, formed the girls’ team and entered it in the North Kingstown travel league so the girls would gain competitive experience. They bested top seed North Kingstown by one point in the championship game to bring home the trophy.

As temperatures started to climb in April, so did the competitive level of 13 Jamestown swimmers. Competing as part of the Newport Wahoos swim team, the islanders qualified in individual and relay events for the New England championships.

Those familiar with N.K.H.S. sports saw Jamestowner Ryan Morris finally get some welldeserved recognition in April, when he was named to the Governor’s Cup football team. But the crowning achievement came for Morris when he was named the R.I. Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year in June. At shortstop, Morris helped the Skippers to a division title win and a trip to the state finals against Bishop Hendricken.

The Richard Heath family was recognized for its contributions to the sport of tennis when it was named the Edwin Goodwin Family of the Year in June. Heath’s initial involvement in the sport was a bit unorthodox. Looking for a summer job after his freshman year at Colgate University, where he played football and hockey, Heath accepted a position at the Ridgewood, N.J. recreation department as director of tennis – a game he had never actually played. More than 50 years later, Heath is patriarch of a family that includes six children and 12 grandchildren, all of whom have embraced and excelled at the sport of tennis. One of his granddaughters, Eloise, was captain of the Skippers’ girls’ tennis team.

Two islanders rose to the top in July when they competed with more than 1,300 other athletes in the Amica Ironman 70.3 R.I. triathlon. Andrew Kallfelz finished ninth in his age group to qualify for a trip to the Ironman Championships in Clearwater, Fla. Andrea Brayman finished 12th in her age group and was the third R.I. female finisher overall with a time of 5:17:45.

The waters in the west passage of Jamestown, between Ft. Getty and Saunderstown, were alive and teeming with sailors in August for the 420 National Championships. After three days of racing between 153 crews, Nick Johnstone and Katia DaSilva, Conanicut Yacht Club/ FAST sailors from Jamestown, took home first place. A special sportsmanship award was awarded to Katja Sertl and Ailsa Petrie of Jamestown.

In September, a group of Lawn Avenue School girls embarked on a school first. After having a co-ed soccer team for years, the school switched gears this year and had separate boys’ and girls’ teams for the first time in the school’s history. Both teams were on the young side and saw the experience as a positive one. They both used the season to learn and build strong teams for next year.

After several months of training, islander David Montoya took to the streets of Manhattan on Nov. 1 to run the New York Marathon in honor of his niece, Jamestowner Josie Wagner, and Team Hole in the Wall. Montoya finished the race in 3:57:13, under his goal of four hours. Prior to running the marathon, the longest Montoya had ever run was the Ali’s Run 5K race in June.

Several islanders chipped in to send part of the North Kingstown High School sailing team to the Great Oaks Regatta, an annual national sailing regatta held in New Orleans each fall. The Skippers qualified for the event by winning the Arnold Brown Regatta in Martha’s Vineyard on Sept. 19.

More islanders were southbound in November after working their way through some of the region’s best tennis players to earn a spot in the national team tennis championship. Sam Baines and Dan Hansen traveled to Mobile, Ala. as part of an eight-person team competing in the Jr. Team Tennis National Championships 18 and under division.

With the New Year approaching, things are still hot for area athletes and sports, as 2010 looks to be a banner year for island athletes.

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