Play each game like it’s your last.
“I’ve heard that before…many times,” said Matthew Carvalho. “I always took it for granted.”
Carvalho, a senior captain on the Cranston West baseball team, will never take it for granted again.
Now it appears a playoff game against South Kingstown last spring, which resulted in a 5-4 season ending loss for the Falcons, may just prove to have been Carvalho’s last baseball game of his high school career.
The Coronavirus – which forced the winter sports season to come to a screeching halt smack in the middle of the basketball and hockey playoffs – has postponed the spring season. With Rhode Island schools closed until at least May 8, it appears there may not be a spring season at all.
“I never thought it would be my last (baseball) game,” said Carvalho, a three sport athlete who also played football and basketball for West. “Now I know you have to play each game like it’s your last. You have to take in every single moment. You just never know.”
Regardless of what the future holds, Carvalho’s classmate and fellow three-sport athlete Cam Alves will be prepared.
Back in March Alves put himself on a pretty rigid workout schedule when the 1,700 member Cranston West community was forced into self-quarantine after a West student was diagnosed with the Coronavirus. An All-State football player who also excels in basketball, track, and in the classroom, Alves will play football next fall at Stonehill College.
When the quarantine was lifted, he began to hold workouts in his backyard.
Welcome to C-Block. – the Alves’ backyard gym where two training sessions are held six days a week. Sessions are held at 10 am, and noon.
‘It looks like a prison workout in my backyard. That’s why we call it C- Block,” laughed Alves.
“When I started I didn’t have a lot of equipment,..basic, basic, basic..I went in my basement and found twenty pound dumbells, pull up bars..nothing extraordinary. Once quarantine got over, we pulled all our equipment together.”
C-Block is an exclusive club and has very strict rules. Social distance is enforced.
The few invited to participate wear masks, gloves and stand six feet apart. Alves leads the workouts focusing on speed, power, and explosion.
“Staying healthy, focused and in shape is 100 percent the goal right now,” said Alves.
After each workout, each piece of equipment is thoroughly cleaned with Clorox bleach. Equipment is stored outside in a bulkhead in the backyard. It is never brought inside the Alves’ house.
“Not seeing a finish line makes me more anxious,” said Alves, referring to the end of the Coronavirus shutdown. ‘Staying healthy – mentally and physically – is the key.”
Cranston West’s Jared Olson, a senior All-Division basketball player, lives down the street from his best friend, Alves. Olson, West’s leading scorer, is hoping to play basketball in college next year. With his future uncertain, the 6’0″ guard stays focused by working out at C-Block.
“We have a six day routine. It’s a good program,” said Olson, who led the Falcons to the Elite Eight before the season came to an abrupt halt. “I’m trying to stay positive. We have got to make the best of it. I can’t get down. The only place I go is to Cam’s. The workouts help.”
“It’s definitely been nice to see real people…be around people – even though we are far apart,” said Alves. “The workouts give us a little more of a routine and give us something to look forward to each day.
“I would like everyone to be here, but we can’t do it,” said Alves. “Safety is our top priority. I was around the people that work out here when we were first quarantined. Since we were already exposed to each other, it’s the only reason we can do it.”
A solid student, Alves said the best way to stay focused during distance learning is to set goals for himself – the same strategy he implements on the athletic fields.
“The biggest challenge with all this is trying to just stay motivated to do your work,” said Alves. “You have to put a goal out there. For me, I have a 4.1 GPA. I don’t want to slack off and drop my GPA.”
Alves is determined not to let the impact of the Coronavirus beat him.
“It’s a tough time for everyone. As seniors, obviously everyone looks forward to graduation and senior prom. It is really sad as far as not being able to experience that with your friends and classmates,” said Alves.” But at the end of the day it’s about staying healthy and if that’s what we have to do to stay safe I’m okay with it.”
Perhaps no one was looking forward to the spring high school sports season more than Barrington’s James Bogdanovic. A junior, he has owned the No. 1 singles spot for the Eagles since his freshman year. A two-time all-stater he helped lead Barrington through an unbeaten season last year en route to the RI state championship.
The small, but powerful Bogdanovic continues to dominate as one of the top players in the state. He was 15-1 as a freshman was 14-2 as a sophomore. Last spring, he reached the state finals before losing a grueling three-set match to Classical’s Max Schmidhauser, the two-time unbeaten RI Interscholastic League Boys State Singles Champion.
Schmidhauser was the only player in Rhode Island to beat Bogdanovic last spring.
Spectators lined up in droves around the fence on a scorching 90 degree day at Slater Park and watched a grueling match between Schmidhauser and Bogdanovic for the RI Interscholastic League Boys State Singles Championship. Bogdanovic jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third set, but the unbeaten Schmidhauser – who has never lost a match in his high school career – came from behind and defeated Bogdanovic 7-5 to take the match and remain the state champ for the second straight year.
“It was a very competitive match,” said Bogdanovic. “We both played well. I remember it was a very hot day. I took a long break on the changeover when I was up 3-0. After that I lost some of my momentum and Max gained momentum.”
Since that day, Bogdanovic has set his sights on a shot at the state singles title and helping Barrington to another state team title.
Ironically, it wasn’t the Coronavirus that prevented Schmidhauser and Bogdanovic from meeting again in the state championship this spring. Schmidhauser also excels in track and opted to put down his racquet and focus solely on his running career.
“I was kind of surprised at first, but knew how much he liked track,” said Bogdanovic.
He wouldn’t get another shot at Schmidhauser, but Bogdanovic’s goal remained the same- to get back to the finals.
Now, it appears he may not have another shot at the state title. The Coronavirus may end up as the winner.
“He was ready for the season,” said RI Tennis Academy’s Nestor Bernabe, who has trained Bogdanovic since he was seven. “James put on 15 pounds, got fitter, stronger and was ready to roll.”
The Coronavirus not only threw a big curve ball to the spring season, for the Shea and Tolman baseball teams, it struck out a one-in-a-lifetime trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
The city rivals had received a $6,000 Legislative Grant which was to be used for an April vacation trip to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY.
As part of the trip, Shea and Tolman would have had the opportunity to play a game against each other on the historic DoubleDay Field.
“It’s really disappointing,” said Tolman baseball coach Theo Murray. “”Every baseball player should have the opportunity to go to the (baseball) Hall of Fame. For many of our kids, this would be the only opportunity they may ever have to go there.”
The Tolman/Shea game isn’t a scrimmage simply played for bragging rights. The game has special meaning. The game is named in honor of Shea’s Ray McGee and Tolman’s John Scanlon, former athletic directors who retired a few years ago. The two remain best friends.
“Dino (Campopiano, Shea coach) and I decided to recognize them every spring with a non-league game. We award the winning team (the Scanlon/McGee) trophy.”
Since 2015 the game has been played at McCoy. This year, it was scheduled at DoubleDay Field.
“It stinks that we weren’t able to go to the Hall of Fame and play that game,” said Murray. “But we will make it happen next year.”