Tucked away in a small corner of the NKHS junior varsity softball outfield 20 high school freshmen have just returned from a three lap run around the high school’s athletic complex. While this may not be the ideal setting for a team trying to shake a losing reputation, this has been the scene of 20 student-athletes developing the foundation for a winning program.
The NK freshmen are 5-0 in division play, and were one score away from beating a solid upper division team in Cranston West in non-league play. Runningback Jordan Bodden-Hoyle, lineman Glenn Vallee and quarterback Matt Madoian have led an offense that has been high scoring and efficient in all five victories.
Learning a few days prior to the season that his team would be dropped from Division 1 to Division 2, head coach Jake Northup saw something in his team that he felt would give them an edge on teams of all levels.
“A lot of these players played youth football which helps us so much,” said Northup. “Where they lack in focus being high school freshmen, they make up for in team chemistry and football IQ.”
A notoriously strong youth football program in the North Kingstown Jaguars produced nearly half of the roster. Madoian leads an athletic group of skill players that play both offense and defense. The young signal-caller came into the season motivated by what he had seen at his older brother’s (senior tight end Alex Madoian) games over the past few years.
“I came into the season knowing everybody was going to work hard and try to rebuild the program,” said Madoian.
Unlike many of the NK players, offensive lineman Bobby Hanley joined the team in training camp without any football playing experience. Northup was impressed by Hanley’s work ethic and determination to learn the playbook early in the season. This work ethic has become the Skippers’ mantra this fall.
“Our whole thing this year has been effort. There’s so much skill on this team, which is rare. We have to set the tone for the freshman program now and years to come with hustle and hard work,” said Northup.
North’s biggest test is tonight against perennial power Westerly. “Westerly’s a top notch program, that’s the measuring stick for us.” Said Northup.
Although they are playing a division lower than past years, any success is good success for a program in rebuilding mode.
“Winning has helped us with motivation. It’s going to help us lead the team throughout our careers. We know what it takes to win,” said Hanley.