A little of this, a little of that …
• The last time we touched base with Nick Giorgio, the Cumberland High graduate was on his way to New Orleans to participate in the Saints’ rookie minicamp. His taste of NFL life occurred in May 2019.
Fast forward to Feb. 2020 when Giorgio flew to Texas and worked out under the watchful eyes of XFL personnel. Then came the arrival of COVID-19, an untimely development that forced Giorgio to put his pro football dreams on hold.
“I was prepared to sign with a practice squad [of an XFL squad],” said Giorgio, who also felt the pandemic’s wrath regarding an opportunity to play in the Canadian Football League.
Throughout the coronavirus, Giorgio remained optimistic that pieces would be put back into place and life as we previously knew it would return. Better days are on the horizon, hence why he continued to train with a firm purpose.
In plotting his next move with his agent, Giorgio was onboard with taking the necessary steps to update his highlight reel. The last time he played in an organized football game was Nov. 17, 2018 – his final contest as a tackling machine for Division III Springfield College. Fortunately, this past winter yielded intrigue from several indoor football league franchises.
It was deemed the best fit was the Orlando Predators of the six-team National Arena League (NAL). Giorgio signed with Orlando in Jan. 2021 and is in line to appear in his fifth game of the season on Friday night when the Predators host Jacksonville.
“It’s been fun to put on the pads and play in an actual game,” said Giorgio when reached recently. “The past year-and-a-half, I’ve been practicing helmet-to-helmet and doing drills. I’m finally getting back into studying schemes and watching film. Being able to do all that stuff again is awesome.”
Orlando lists Giorgio as a linebacker who measures out at 6-foot-1 and 245 pounds. Through four games (all starts), he’s been credited with six tackles, a half-sack, and one pass breakup. By spending time in the Florida sunshine, he’s taking a proactive approach in hopes of making a return to the NFL’s inner circle.
“Obviously it’s not the platform of professional football I want to be at, but it’s great to be playing professionally instead of trying out or practicing,” he said. “This a stepping stone to get back to where I once was.”
Giorgio is rotating between linebacker and defensive end for an Orlando club that’s off to a 1-3 start. He’s played both inside and outside linebacker as well as performing the duties of an edge rusher.
“Playing more at a hybrid level, that’s where I see myself moving forward,” said Giorgio.
The league that Giorgio hooked on with is more geared towards the offensive side of the ball. High-scoring games are part and parcel with the fast-paced action that greets Giorgio every time he steps on the turf.
“There are a lot more three-step drops and the ball gets out quick [from the quarterback’s hand]. You have to move fast on defense, especially when you’re at linebacker,” said Giorgio. “Power is important, but your technique needs to be perfect.”
The NAL wraps up the regular season on the final weekend of July. The top-four teams in the standings will advance to the playoffs. Looking ahead post-Orlando, Giorgio hopes the phone rings and a representative – be it from the NFL, CFL or USFL – is on the other line.
“I’m only 23 years old. I want to show teams that I still have that motor to play football,” he said.
• The news of Kate Corry retiring as Shea High’s athletic director figures to change the landscape concerning how sports business is conducted at Shea and Tolman. Per Pawtucket Superintendent Dr. Cheryl McWilliams, the city plans to advertise for one full-time athletic director and one part-time assistant AD in the near future.
• Friday, July 2 at 11:59 p.m. represents the cutoff for runners to register online for this coming Monday’s Arnold Mills Four-Mile Road Race. Once the calendar reads “Saturday, July 3”, participants will have to wait until the morning of the race – Monday, July 5 – to sign up.
Per race director Steve Mazzone, the top male and female finishers will receive a free pair of running shoes. It’s also been confirmed that Jack Thornhill will serve as the official starter. The 79-year-old Thornhill will be competing in his 50th Arnold Mills race.
Day-of-race registration will run from 7-8:30 a.m. outside the North Cumberland Fire Station. The race starts at 9 a.m. For more information, visit arnoldmillsparade.com/road-race/.
• There is a local tie to the Mississippi State baseball program that captured the College World Series earlier this week. Chris Nasuti – son of the late George Nasuti, the popular and highly-respected Woonsocket High athletic director and coach – is MSU’s Director of Compliance. Young Chris tweeted out a picture of the Bulldog players and coaches celebrating on the field at Omaha’s TD Ameritrade Park that was accompanied with the hashtag #HailState.
• Darius Kipyego, Amaya Dowdy, and Maddy Nault were the top winners from St. Raphael’s end-of-year athletic award ceremony.
A middle-distance runner who’ll continue his career at Iowa State, Kipyego received the Henry A. Barry Memorial Award that’s presented to a senior who has distinguished himself by academic excellence and exceptional athletic achievement.
A state champion in girls’ basketball who also won a title in girls’ volleyball, Dowdy was the recipient of the C. Dona Maynard Scholar Athlete Award that’s awarded to the St. Raphael student who possesses both excellent athletic performance and academic achievement with a B average or better for all four academic years.
A two-time champion in girls’ volleyball who also made her mark in softball, Nault was presented with the Margaret McGeough Memorial Award that’s given to an SRA senior who has distinguished herself by academic excellence and exceptional athletic achievement.
• The primary goal of making every sport available was met. For that alone, the R.I. Interscholastic League deserves high praise for getting through a 2020-21 school year that posed challenges at seemingly at every turn.
In terms of an actual numerical grade to award the RIIL, we’re going to go with a B-plus. Why that grade? We wish the league waited a little bit longer for the COVID issue to subside so that Mount St. Charles and Hendricken could have played for the state hockey title. Also, high school golfers wearing masks while on the course was a look that could have been avoided had the Interscholastic League leaned on the Department of Health a little harder.
If you’re going to criticize, you must also give credit when it’s warranted. The league deserves props for allowing the football programs at Tolman, Mount Pleasant, and Moses Brown to work through a COVID issue that impacted the playoffs. It was one of many unprecedented situations that arose during an unprecedented year – a year that no one with RIIL ties would want to relive again.
• I’ve heard the argument that the PawSox would still be in Pawtucket if R.I. Governor Dan McKee and House Speaker Joseph Shekarchi were in their current roles back when the team was seeking a new ballpark that would have kept a venerable institution in Rhode Island.
I don’t know if I would co-sign 100 percent on said theory, yet because there’s no such thing when it comes to beating a dead horse and the PawSox, it’s worth reminding everyone that two major roadblocks – Gina Raimondo and Nicholas Mattiello – are long gone from the R.I. political scene.
• We do have a Pawtucket-to-Worcester export that’s worth rooting for and it’s Jeremy Clark, the 2021 Tolman High graduate who’s moving on to play tennis at the College of the Holy Cross.
• This column would have been longer, but it’s time to put the pedal to the metal with the Call/Times All-Area teams. Coming soon a print edition and website near you!