They are the three words I hate writing the most — winter is here.
My disdain for the season has to do with the cold and misery it annually bestows upon us. Luckily, the winter high school sports season is a saving grace that prevents me from plummeting into a dark circle I’d prefer to stay out of.
Math isn’t a forte of mine, but the winter high school sports season feels like the shortest of the three. Previews come out, there’s a lull during Christmas and New Year’s Day, things pick back up in the new year and then it seems playoffs start immediately afterward.
So, how will we at The Journal follow a very successful fall season that saw our coverage go to levels the state’s never seen before? By being there.
With Bill Koch spending most of the winter covering college hoops better than anyone in Rhode Island, I’m going to try to get to as many games and events as possible. Thanks to my wife refusing to let me coach rec basketball this winter and my daughters being placed on the same teams as their cousins, my schedule is suddenly clear to cover more games than I have the last few winters — except when I’ve got to DadUber to Wide World of Indoor Sports every other Thursday for soccer.
High school basketball
There’s no formula for picking which games to cover. Sometimes it’s going to a game of statewide prominence, sometimes it’s writing a feature on a particular player and sometimes it’s just getting to a game that’s really super convenient for my schedule. Variety is nice, so trying to avoid the same programs will be a focus in the early portion of the season.
Games will be an important part of our coverage, but it’s hardly the only content we want to create this winter.
Name, Image, Likeness:Did the RIIL need NIL rules for high school athletes? Yes. What does that mean?
Wrestling and hockey coverage
The first thing that should be known is that we can only write about what is reported to us. People have repeatedly asked about more wrestling and hockey coverage, but no one has taken action. Those sports were among the worst in reporting scores and results from their games.
Report game results, please
First, we need coaches to email or call in results from games by 10 p.m. The email address is [email protected] and the phone number is (401) 277-7340. And leaving a voice mail doesn’t count. Call or email at 10:01? Probably not going to work.
Reporting results is easier now than ever. What we’re trying to get out is as many names as possible. For basketball, that means the two or three who were keys in the victories and a player or two who performed well in the loss. For hockey, tell us who scored the goals and, if the goalie had a shutout, let us know. Track and swim coaches, let us know which performers you think should be highlighted in a brief. Wrestling coaches, tell us which two or three wrestlers should be featured, and gymnastics coaches, we want to know who hit big to help you win. Get us these names so we can feature them all.
We need this information nightly — by 10 p.m. — so we can put together a wrap-up of all of our non-basketball sports. We tried this last year and, after the first week, we were getting maybe 10% of scores reported, so that deep-sixed the feature quickly. We would love to bring it back to life this winter.
Fall 2022 SeasonWhich were the best RI high school football teams this fall? Eric Rueb’s final rankings
As for basketball, The Journal Hoops Wrap will make its triumphant return. This daily feature became a staple pre-COVID and is typically the most popular content we run during the winter. It creates some long nights, but as long as coaches continue to report box score information, I’ll continue writing it up nightly during the week.
Because basketball is the most popular of the winter sports — and, by popular, I mean the most read, a metric that is crucial in deciding how to use our limited resources — we’re going to be adding a new feature with The Providence Journal Basketball Player of the Week.
It’s going to work just like football and soccer did in the fall. We’ll pick five nominees and the readers will vote. Getting nominated is pretty simple — you have to have a good week and your coach needs to get us the results by 10 p.m. that night.
We’ve talked about adding the feature for hockey, but that would require 100% effort from the coaches about getting results in nightly. Hockey’s audience isn’t large, but it’s passionate, and based off the numbers we’ve seen, hockey fans will consistently read. If the results come flying in, we can add a Player of the Week feature. Consider December a tryout.
RI high school football:Which were the best teams this fall? Eric Rueb’s final rankings
Players to Watch feature returns
Our winter coverage officially kicks off with this column, but preview stories will follow. We’ll try to feature a team or player of note from each non-basketball sport before diving fully into basketball previews. Additionally, the Players to Watch feature will be out there so we can let you know the athletes who are likely to do big things this winter.
Some other features to look forward to:
◘One week prior to Christmas, The Journal will publish the respective coaches’ association all-state and all-division selections from the fall sports season. The Providence Journal All-State teams will be published in January.
◘End of Year lists that final week of December. Haven’t figured out how many, but there will be lists — some serious, some not-so-much.
So, that’s about it. Putting this all down on paper is a quick reality check because it sounds like a lot of work and, gulp, that means I’ve got to get ready to grind.
The good news is it’s winter, the golf clubs are in the basement and I’m ready to get to work. We hope you’ll come along for the ride.