NORTH SMITHFIELD — The name has changed, but the mission remains the same for the North Smithfield Athletic Association.
Formerly known as the Northmen Athletic Club, and back on the scene after a year’s hiatus, the NSAA, which is headed by former longtime girls’ hockey coach Bill Nangle, is looking to not only again support the town’s middle and high school sports teams, but also the community’s recreational programs.
“We’re completely independent,” said Nangle. “We’re a non-profit organization whose primary function is to provide funding for the middle school and high school athletic programs, as well as the other programs in town.
“Any athletic team or program at the schools can apply for a grant, and we’ll evaluate it based on how important the need is and then determine if we can provide funding. But before they can even come to us, they have to go to the athletic director (Matt Tek), and he has to determine if what they want is really needed. If he doesn’t think it’s a good reason, then they can’t come to us.”
According to the NSAA’s web site, www.nsaa.us.com , “We strongly believe that our schools and our entire community can benefit from the programs and activities we strive to facilitate. While our main focus is to ensure that all students who wish to participate in physical activity and play on a school team of some sort have that opportunity, we are also committed to involving people of all ages in fun, recreational activities, keeping North Smithfield residents active and having a positive impact in our community.”
The NSAA took its first step as an organization this past fall by organizing a weekend co-ed adult recreational league that drew more than 100 players from the community and became an instant success.
“It was awesome,” said Nangle, whose committee of volunteers, which meets for an hour and a half on the fourth Monday night of each month, also consists of vice presidents Tony Guertin, Paul Shatraw, and Fran Clark, treasurer Larry Drapeau, secretary Tracey Nangle, and Denise Guertin, Joanne Forti, Cristina Lima, Elise Shatraw, and Linda Drapeau. “It was a great time. The teams were fairly balanced, we didn’t keep any standings, and every week, we picked a different local estabishment to go afterwards, hang out, and socialize.”
Thanks to the popularity of the soccer league, the NSAA decided to organize a co-ed adult volleyball league that will begin play on Sunday, Jan. 6, and continue play through the next seven Sunday nights at the North Smithfield High gymnasium. The league is open only to North Smithfield residents (and town/school employees) who are at least the age of 25, and the cost for the eight-week program is $50 per player.
And that’s not all...
— The NSAA offered a logo contest that called for middle school and high school students to design a logo for the organization. The contest ended yesterday, and the winning logo will be unveiled on Jan. 15. The winning student will receive a Nexus 7 talent.
— The NSAA currently has a “Northmen Jacket Survey” on its web site for high school student-athletes, asking them if they would prefer to have a tradition varsity jacket with leather sleeves or a cardigan sweater, and if they prefer the clothing to sport the Northmen’s traditional green and gold colors or be black as the primary color (with green and gold as the accent colors).
“The thought process behind the jackets was that some teams had varsity jackets and some did not,” explained Nangle. “Shouldn’t the whole athletic population have an opportunity to earn a jacket? And it’s not going to be called a varsity jacket anymore. It’s going to be called a Northmen jacket, and any student-athlete who plays two years of a sport, whether it’s varsity or junior varsity, can earn one.”
And as for the survey, “Believe it or not, a lot of kids who took the survey wanted the sweaters,” said Nangle. “Varsity sweaters are coming back, and besides, these kids aren’t allowed to wear jackets in school, so they would rather have a sweater than they can wear.”
— One of the big fundraisers of the Northmen Athletic Club is back in the NSAA’s Green & Gold Winter Ball. It will take place on Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Providence Biltmore Grand Ballroom on Dorrance Street in Providence, and tickets are $75 per person. More information can be obtained by emailing GreenGoldBall@gmail.com .
— A “Relay for Sports” for the town’s middle school and high school students will hit the school’s track facility “sometime in May or June,” reported Nangle. “The kids sign up, pay a fee, and get to the track for 6 p.m., and they have to have a member of their team walking or running on the track from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. the next morning. Throughout the night, we’ll have all types of crazy activities going on. The last time we did this, we had a dance-off at 2 a.m., and a congo line at 3 p.m. We had an incredible turnout and a lot of chaperones, and I think the chaperones had as much fun as the kids did.”
— Also in the spring will be a weekend wiffleball tournament that will be tied into the town’s athletic fields, as well as a track and field program that hopes to become a feeder program for what may blossom into a high school track team by the 2014-15 scholastic year. This program, which expects to take place on Sunday afternoons, will be for all ages, ranging from children ages 6 and 7 to juniors in high school.
“We think there will be a big demand for this program,” said Nangle. “The plan right now is that whatever we need for equipment, the NSAA will go out and buy it, and when the school gets a track team, we will donate the equipment to the school with the understanding that we will be allowed to use it to continue to run the feeder program.”
— Speaking of running, the Northmen Challenge 5K is also returning to the neighboring streets of North Smithfield High on Saturday, June 1 after a year’s absence. In its inaugural 2011 race, the 5K drew 249 runners, with nearly three-fourths of the field hailing from town.
“Our goal is to get to 500 (runners),” said Nangle. “We’re pretty excited about the race, and we’re going to do a lot of what we did last time. We’re not going to do the cookout, but we’re going to have a food court, We’re going to have some more bands along the course, and we’re going to give awards for different age groups, as well as the top middle school and high school teams.”
After that race, the scholastic year will be reaching its final days, but the NSAA will be busy with one final event geared towards the high school’s alumni who recently graduated.
“A lot of our alumni come home from school and want to see their friends,” said Nangle. “They haven’t seen them in a year, maybe longer, so we’re thinking of taking one night a week and and opening it up to kids who graduated within the last five years. It might be alumni who are 18 or 19 to 24 or 25. We might have things like pickup soccer or basketball. We might have a track meet. We’re just trying to get kids to come back and hang out with their friends again.”