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Bri Frongillo leaves lasting imprint on Massachusetts girls’ basketball

Bri Frongillo (© Daily News and Wicked Local Staff Photo/Ken McGagh / USA TODAY NETWORK)

There is no shortage of iconic professional athletes cherished by children in Hopedale, Mass., a small town about 25 miles southwest of Boston.

But when 9-year-old Grace Rojee was tasked with dressing up for school one day as someone she admired, she did not choose Tom Brady or David Ortiz or Paul Pierce.

She chose someone who looks like her. She chose Bri Frongillo.

“(Bri) was blown away,” said Jason Rojee, Grace’s father and Frongillo’s basketball coach at Hopedale High School.

Grace walked into school dressed like her hero, with a Hopedale No. 1 jersey over her chest and her brown hair tied up in a bun. She cut a similar image to Frongillo, the senior guard committed to Bryant University who recently scored her 2,000th career point. When Frongillo graduates this spring, she’ll no doubt leave behind a legacy remembered for years to come.

“She’s one of a kind,” Rojee said.

Last Friday morning, the day after Hopedale closed the regular season with a 56-28 thumping of Milford. Rojee was messaging Frongillo on Google Chat about her nomination form for Massachusetts Gatorade State Player of the Year. It was not a matter of searching for statistics and accomplishments, but paring them down.

The 5-foot-3 Frongillo is the 78th player in state history, girl or boy, to reach the 2,000-point club. And she’s done it by being ruthlessly efficient. In 18 regular season games this season, she averaged 27.4 points, five assists, three rebounds and three steals. She shot 90 percent from the foul line and 55 percent from long range. She is Hopedale’s heartbeat, and it has led to success: The Blue Raiders entered the Central Massachusetts postseason tournament with a 17-1 record, before falling to Sutton 37-34 in the first round.

Hopedale lost its second game of the season but has been a juggernaut ever since, with Frongillo playing a leading role. The season reached a peak on Feb. 15, when she hit the 2,000-point mark late in the first half against Milbury. Frongillo wheeled around a screen and caught a pass at the top of the perimeter, took one dribble to her left and pulled up from deep. She held her follow-through as the ball sank through the net. Her teammates mobbed her in celebration and the referee called for a stoppage in play. Frongillo posed for photos with her parents.

Rojee is a first-year coach at Hopedale, after moving to the area five years ago from a nearby town where he coached basketball. His wife insisted he look to get back into the game. From afar, he watched Frongillo become one of the most dynamic players in the state, and when the Hopedale job opened ahead of this season, Rojee jumped at the opportunity.

He had been watching, after all, as Frongillo began her journey on Hopedale’s varsity team as an eighth grader. When she moves on to Bryant next season, the team will be without one of its most familiar faces, but the Milbury game hinted at a bright future. With the game knotted at 49, it was Phoebe Carroll, an eighth grader, who hit the go-ahead jumper with 1.4 seconds left to deliver the Blue Raiders the 51-49 win.

In that moment, Carroll, much like Rojee’s daughter, looked a lot like an athlete she admires.

“Everything (Frongillo) does,” Rojee said, “is at another level.”

Josh Needelman is the High School Sports Editor at Just Women’s Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JoshNeedelman.

Sofia Huerta signs contract extension with Seattle through 2027

(Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports)

Former Oregon soccer players detail instances of verbal abuse from former USWNT assistant

(Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via Imagn Content Services)

Members of the Oregon women’s soccer team are saying they received harsh treatment and even verbal abuse from head coach and former USWNT assistant Graeme Abel. 

During the 2023 season, the team had zero wins, and upon its conclusion a total of 12 of the team’s 29 players departed the team. Former players told The Oregonian that Abel would verbally attack them, threaten to kick them off the team and at times would even throw objects.

"When I’d make a mistake at practice, it felt like he made it a job to embarrass you to the point where you just wanted to walk off the field,” one player said. “He’d stop the practice – and I know it’s college soccer, it’s very competitive — but he’d stop practice and just keep going nonstop on this one thing."

In total, the Oregonian spoke with 14 former players – including 12 who agreed to be interviewed in depth. All said that they experienced verbal abuse. Six of the players were among those who transferred following the season. 

One instance of Abel’s tirades included him throwing a water bottle that narrowly missed players’ heads. 

“He kicked all of our staff out of the locker room, kicked a trash can, threw a white board, sat on the trash can and started screaming,” one player recounted. “He wanted us to tell him what we thought went wrong in the game. Me and another player spoke up, and he said, ‘You’re just (expletive) wrong.’ And that if we didn’t want to be in this program, we could all quit, and he’d sign our release paperwork tomorrow.”

While Abel was not made available for an interview, he did say in a statement that “at no point have I used threatening statements or financial repercussions as a part of coaching.”

Instances of emotional distress stemming from Abel’s alleged harsh treatment date back to 2021 – his first full year leading the team following an abbreviated 2020 campaign.

Other former players contacted by The Oregonian detailed positive overall experiences, and described his style as “normal coaching.”

Others, like USWNT players Becky Sauerbrunn and Lindsey Horan, did not respond to requests for comment, although Sauerbrunn wrote in 2019 that she had a “great relationship” with Abel. 

Still, multiple players interviewed had similar stories, with one saying that girls would be “crying in the locker room” after practice because of what he would tell players. Attempts to speak with the administration about his behavior, players say, was “discouraging.”

“His office is like the scariest place,” one player said. “You’d have to sit there while he’d belittle you and say all these nasty things, and gaslight you into believing you’re not good enough. ... Our team fell apart because of the environment he created. We were just trying to get through the day. There was no way we could focus on soccer.”

Multiple players said they experienced suicidal ideation while playing at Oregon. In part of his statement, Abel wrote that “at no time do we put our student-athletes in any danger.”

Abel is currently in his fifth and final year of his contract at Oregon.

Gotham FC unveil Championship rings ahead of banner reveal

Gotham FC players celebrate Lynn Williams' goal in the first half of the 2023 NWSL Championship. (Ray Acevedo/USA TODAY Sports)

Gotham FC has unveiled their 2023 NWSL championship rings — and safe to say, they deliver.

The reveal has led to a little bit of trash talk ahead of the team’s matchup with Kansas City this weekend, as both teams have NFL owners. While the Current are co-owned by Patrick and Brittany Mahomes, former Giants quarterback Eli Manning is a co-owner of Gotham. 

On Wednesday, Manning took to Sportscenter to give Mahomes a bit of a hard time.

“He may have one more Super Bowl ring than me, but he does not have a NWSL championship ring like I do,” Manning joked.

“Come Sunday night at Red Bull Arena, April 14th, we’re dropping the banner on Kansas City. We got the ring ceremony, the players get their rings and their championship afterwards. This is it, I’ve got something to talk a little trash to him about because I can’t do it about football anymore, I gotta find something else.”

The appearance came after Manning posted to social media, inviting Mahomes to “come see [the championship ring] up close this Sunday.”

Mahomes responded in kind, writing that “we’ll see y’all Sunday!”

Gotham takes on current league-leaders Kansas City on Sunday at 6pm ET. The game is available on NWSL+.

Oregon State hit by transfer portal again as Raegan Beers departs

ALBANY, NEW YORK - MARCH 31: Raegan Beers #15 of the Oregon State Beavers shoots a free throw during the first half against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Elite 8 round of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament at MVP Arena on March 31, 2024 in Albany, New York. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Oregon State leading scorer and rebounder Raegan Beers announced on Thursday that she is entering the transfer portal. 

"Thank you for all of your endless love and support these past two years," she posted on social media. "I will never forget my time at OSU and I am thankful for the opportunity I had to meet and play with incredible people. My journey as a Beav was a special one and I am grateful for my teammates, coaches, fans, and friends who have changed my life throughout my time here."

A sophomore forward, Beers is a two-time All-Pac-12 selection who averaged 17.5 points per game last season while shooting 66.4 percent from the field. She also added 10.3 rebounds en route to earning third-team All-American honors from the AP. 

She’s the fourth Oregon State starter – and seventh player overall – to hit the portal this offseason. She joins Talia von Oelhoggen and Timea Gardiner in the transfer portal, as well as starting freshman Donovyn Hunter. 

Beers and Gardiner were both top-10 recruits in ESPN rankings coming out of high school. 

With the dissolution of the Pac-12, the program will join the WCC next season and no longer be a part of the Power 5.

Conference realignment is hitting the team hard, with coach Scott Rueck saying during the tournament that he knew it could seriously affect his team moving forward. 

"That's reality," Rueck said. "I can't control that, other than just keep doing what I'm doing. I think the opportunity within that for a leader provides a discipline that you'd better be on your A-game all the time. You'd better take care of people, and you'd better provide a great experience. That's the approach going forward and what happens, happens. We'll find a way."

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