Cranston High School West
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Undefeated Season lands Unified Volleyball Team in Championship Finals Game Controversy due to EG player rotation
by: Allison Parkes Editor-in-Chief
Controversy in the championship game at Johnson and Wales University took away from the significance of an undefeated regular season for the Cranston West Unified volleyball team. There they faced East Greenwich’s Unified volleyball team. West was led by Coach Matt Reis and Coach Julie Bannon while Dave Egan and Patty Carrosotto coached the East Greenwich team in the championship. The championship started off well for West as they won the first set 25-23. After that, East Greenwich pulled ahead to win the second set 25-5 and the third and final set, 25-21. The scores make it seem like a well-played championship game by both teams; however, controversy over whether or not East Greenwich played fairly quickly arose. Coach Reis explained that, “teams need to have a set rotation of players throughout the match, and also must play all players.” West coaches, players, and spectators of the game have said that the East Greenwich team did not rotate their players properly and they chose players who were stronger than others to play in the game. Coach Reis stated, “I find it disappointing when rules are not followed mainly because it should be fair for the players.” The entire Cranston West team was “mad at the fact that [East Greenwich] had to cheat to win,” said senior, Kionno Nelson. The East Greenwich coaches, Egan and Carrosotto, declined to comment on the controversy. Many found that the way the East Greenwich team played did not follow the spirit of the Special Olympics and the Unified Program. Coach Reis strongly believes in keeping with the spirit of Unified games. “I stress to the team the importance of ‘playing the right way,’ though we were far from perfect
ourselves. Even though I had a great group of students this season, there were constant reminders about playing to the spirit of the league,” he explained. On the other hand, the CEO of the Special Olympics Organization in Rhode Island, Dennis DeJesus felt that “the championship match between Cranston West and East Greenwich was a spirited, well-played game that truly exemplified the spirit of Project Unify.” DeJesus also praised the West Unified Team by saying, “I am proud of the role that the partners played in support of their teammates. Cranston West and Coach Reiss can be proud of this program as it truly gives the athletes the opportunity to participate in a varsity sport under the umbrella of the Rhode Island Interscholastic League.” The Special Olympics organization met with the East Greenwich coaches after the championship. Coach Reis was invited but declined the offer. Instead, Coach Reis shared his comments on the controversy and suggested possible rule changes for the unified games, which the Special Olympics may consider for the future. Despite the controversy, the coaches and players were extremely happy with how the regular season went. Senior Ben Travelyn said, “This season was very exciting and a very good experience.” Nelson agreed that, “It was great. The team was really fun to be around. We had great times.” Overall Reis summed everything up by saying, “though the championship game was a letdown, I want the players to focus on the undefeated regular season and all the fun we had on bus trips and during practices, meals, and games when they look back on this team.” Picture by West Wind staff The Unified volleyball team after their win to clinch their undefeated regular season.
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Read about how the Unified Volleyball team made it to the championship with an undefeated season only to face a difficult championship game.