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D'Angelo's website pays tribute to R.I. high school sports

November 18, 2012

Tommy D'Angelo

If the end game was to create a specific website that shines light on Rhode Island high school athletics, then Tommy D’Angelo succeeded.
Wish to know which school has captured the most championships in R.I. Interscholastic League history? D’Angelo’s vision and ultimate creation – www.rihssports.com – contains the answer along with the exact amount. The tally extends to every school that’s ever won a title.
What allows www.rihssports.com to truly stand out is that it’s a portal to present times and yesteryear, a digital encyclopedia that concentrates in standings, postseason results and championship history. Each and every sport, both boys and girls, features this cornucopia of all-inclusive knowledge thanks to the uncanny efforts of one person – the aforementioned D’Angelo.
Now 10 years strong – www.rihssports.com was officially launched on March 16, 2002 – D’Angelo can look back with reverence and say that all those day-after-Thanksgiving treks to the Providence Public Library to look at microfilm, along with his meticulous note-taking knack, has paid off tremendously.
The website has become a vital resource for fans and journalists alike. In the eyes of the originator, that’s all that matters.
“I would call it a hobby that’s taken up a lot of my time, but at the end of the day it’s something I have a passion for,” explained D’Angelo.
That passion D’Angelo touched upon was unofficially tapped in the early 90s, when as a “big sports guy” he “started hand recording games at the professional and college level – basically anything I could get my hands on.” By 1994, he branched out to include select high school sports – baseball, boys’ basketball and hockey.
“Some scores and stats are easier to find than others,” notes D’Angelo, a graduate of Cranston West and Rhode Island College and current resident of Smithfield.
As he continued to keep track of the present, D’Angelo thought long and hard about expanding the project and including past results. One day, the true impetus for his leave-no-stone-unturned mantra arrived in the mail.
“What got me kick-started with the historical research was that the RIIL sent me a handbook with a list of champions through the years, and I had noticed a lot of inconsistencies and gaps,” noted D’Angelo.
Seeking to plug the missing holes signaled the commencement of the second wave of information gathering. D’Angelo got to know the inside of the Providence Public Library quite well, sitting at the microfilm station with a notepad for hours at a time. Soon, this super sleuth collected enough data that it was time to up the ante and go all in with the website idea that culminated in becoming his true calling.
***
When www.rihssports.com hit the Internet in March 2002, the site included standings going back as far as 1994. In no time, those hard-to-find recordings from earlier times were incorporated.
“With me being a fan and seeing that there was no place to get historical content, I wanted to get something out there,” was the mantra D’Angelo swore by as he sought to take people places that had long been forgotten.
His own tireless labor opened the door for fans and coaches alike to e-mail information to webmaster@rihssports.com, a clear indication that his efforts were not going unnoticed.
“As fans notice stuff and they contribute, I just try to fill in those gaps specifically as best I can,” said D’Angelo, who pays tribute to the correspondents with a name credit that appears on the bottom of the page of the appropriate sport. “It’s good to make those connections.”
The research/outside contributions have paved the way for D’Angelo to travel back a lifetime ago in some sports and unearth data that can’t be found any place else. For example, every state championship in boys’ hockey beginning with the 1932-33 season is denoted. Another nice feature that’s worth scrolling up and down a few times is the section devoted to Thanksgiving football matchups, both present and past.
“I want people to have a location to go and get the information,” said D’Angelo. “I knew it would take a lot of work, but I wanted to branch out and do my own thing.”
***
In terms of presentation, www.rihssports.com features no images or graphics, just straight-the-point concise data. Click on the homepage to find two color-coated columns, with boys sports listed on the left and girls’ sports on the right. An additional click on the corresponding sport summons a page that can pull you in all sorts of directions that are easy to navigate.
“It cuts right to the heart of the matter,” said D’Angelo about the website’s simplistic approach. “It wasn’t about the bells and whistles.”
D’Angelo’s work is not affiliated with the Interscholastic League, which is spelled out in a disclaimer that appears on the homepage. The real nuts-and-bolts work comes when updating the current standings. Deep down, he knows that all the late nights are worth his time.
“When I first started, I thought I would do this forever. I just assumed that I would have the passion for it,” D’Angelo said. “It’s a joy to follow the postseason and championships, but the past couple of years, I’ve thought about what I’d like to do long term as far as keeping up with the day-to-day standings.
“If it’s something I can’t continue, I’ll probably have to handoff the site,” he added. “I would hate to lose the site or have it go offline.”
Ten-plus years later, www.rihssports.com is still going strong. D’Angelo noted that close to 5,000 hits clicked on the site in a week’s time recently, such a high volume providing him with a true sense of accomplishment. The feedback he’s received via the survey he recently set up has been overwhelming positive, further illustrating that D’Angelo succeeded in carving out a noteworthy niche.
In other words, it’s a website definitely worth exploring.

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