Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 138]: Star of the day, who will it be?

It’s getting harder and harder in America these days to impress your audience and keep it engaged.

Take the president. Please! We’re here all week folks. … But if the man who brought Frederick Douglass back from the dead and won, like, all the Electoral College votes that were ever available can’t get a standing ovation, then what are the rest of us to do?

Funny, Hitch was wondering the same thing.

Edge at Union Station

Railers players’ first stop? Their new apartments at the Edge

Worcester Railers HC searched high and low, east and west, and all across the city to find a home for its incoming crop of mostly young up-and-coming hockey players.

Conveniently enough, what team officials were looking for was right around the corner the whole time.

The Railers have agreed to lease five four-bedroom apartments at Edge at Union Station, according to team and property officials, to accommodate 20 players in anticipation of the start of the club’s inaugural minor league hockey season in October.

“We’re looking forward to it,” said Michael Myers, Railers president. “It’s a perfect setup for us since they’re right there next to the [Worcester Ice Center].”

Worcester Sports Complex

Courtesy Worcester Railers

An artist’s rendering of the planned Canal District dual hockey rink complex.

The Worcester Ice Center, which broke ground this past October, is a 100,000 square-foot facility — anchored by two full-size ice rinks and a full-service restaurant to be run by Niche Hospitality — and has been slated to open in August 2017. At the corner of Winter and Harding streets, it’s a short walk from the Edge.

The team, Myers told the Sun, leased the apartments at the Edge for one year to “test the waters and see how it is for [the Railers players].”

More Railers coverage in the Sun:

Sun Spots with Hitch [Vol. 135]: A high-five for Tom Brady

Sports fans in New England are a fortunate bunch. Across the generations, even when some of our favorite professional teams or collegiate programs suffered lean years, we’ve enjoyed championship seasons and legendary performers.

Tom Brady, the Patriots’ quarterback and leader, has combined the titles and the talent at an unprecedented level, culminating Sunday in an historic performance that won’t soon be forgotten. Here’s Hitch.

Bravehearts’ local quartet has spring in their step

Jack Riley — one of four Worcester-area players returning to the hometown team’s roster for 2017 — is back after a two-summer hiatus and wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love coming back home for the summer and playing for some of the best fans around.”

Melifonwu and McCubrey: Two football futures kick off with no-nonsense announcements

All across the country last Wednesday, National Signing Day, media members packed into high school gymnasiums, libraries and cafeterias to catch a glimpse of the nation’s most highly touted college football prospects making their commitments official.

It has become a day of de-commitments — with players pretending to put on one school’s hat before wearing another to signify their choice, and all other sorts of unnecessary drama.

Here in central Worcester County, we had a pair of Division I football commits, and neither of them provided much drama, though they certainly could have.

Grafton’s Ifeatu Melifonwu, a star running back and defensive back who rushed for nearly 1,900 yards and led the Indians to the Division 3 state championship game at Gillette Stadium in December, became a wanted man toward the end of the recruiting process.

ABA basketball hopes to drop Anchors in Worcester

They’re broke, they have no home-court advantage, and their original owner abandoned them just days before the season started.

But that’s not stopping the New England Anchors — a fledgling professional basketball team in an historic and once preeminent league — from settling in, finding success and keeping their eyes on a playoff spot.

Now, if only they can find a permanent home, and a few fans, maybe even here in Worcester. First, though, the team must finish its inaugural season.

The Anchors, who have played home games at South High Community School and Worcester State University, found themselves with a 7-2 record and ranked 20th in the Jan. 29 power rankings of the approximately 84-team American Basketball Association[Editor’s note: the volatility of the league makes an exact count mostly a guessing game.]

Under the new ownership of Worcester State alum Tom Marino, and led by head coach Anthony Leonelli, the Anchors are outscoring their opponents by an average of 33 points in their seven victories.

“[Leonelli] put together a ridiculous team. We’re 7-2 and we haven’t won by less than 16. Basketball-wise, things are wonderful. We score a ton of points,” Marino said.

The Anchors are averaging more than 126 points per game.

“We’ve got a great group of guys with great basketball backgrounds. These guys have bought into our plan and as a result we’ve won a lot of games. It’s been fun to watch,” Leonelli said.

Millbury girls soccer

Inbox [Jan. 29]: Regis taps Holy Cross for new president, Free Tax Service is back, Genesis Club crowdfunds for clients, Moore brings Millbury champs to State House, home run derby in extra innings for Bravehearts

Interesting and worthwhile things happen every day in our community. Alas, we can’t cover them all. That’s where Inbox comes in, to offer readers an easily digestible compilation of interesting and noteworthy items you and your neighbors keep telling us about.

Regis names HC history professor Rev. Thomas W. Worcester president

Rev. Thomas Worcester, S.J., professor of history at the College of the Holy Cross, will become the 11th president of Toronto’s Regis College, the Jesuit Faculty of Theology at the University of Toronto T), and one of North America’s Roman Catholic ecclesiastical faculties.

He will begin his five-year term on Aug. 1, prior to the 2017-18 academic year.

Worcester joined the history department at Holy Cross in 1994 as a tenure-track faculty member, achieved tenure in 2000, and promotion to full professor in 2010. His expertise includes the Reformation, religion and society in 17th-century France, the history of the Jesuits, and the history of the papacy.

Rev. Joseph Schner, S.J., interim president at Regis, said, “Professor Worcester brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the leadership of the Regis community’s programs, teaching, and research.”

“I have been at Holy Cross for almost a quarter century, and there are many things I will miss,” said Worcester. “The Society of Jesus is now calling me to assume a major role in the education of Jesuits and others preparing for priesthood, or for lay ministry, and/or for teaching and scholarly work in the various theological disciplines. I am excited and energized by what awaits me as president of Regis College in Toronto, an amazingly diverse, world-class city.”

Read the entire story on the College of the Holy Cross website

Worcester Free Tax Service Coalition kicks off 13th tax season

In conjunction with the nationwide Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day, the Worcester Free Tax Service Coalition kicked off its 13th year of providing free tax preparation services for local low-income households at a program held at Assumption College. The program utilizes IRS-trained volunteers to prepare tax returns for households earning less than $54,000.

Kevin Mensah looks to end whirlwind year with scholarship

To say the last year has been draining for Kevin Mensah would be an understatement.

The star running back and Worcester native transferred from Holy Name Central Catholic High School on Granite Street to Shepherd Hill Regional in Dudley in the offseason, to much fanfare and, of course, much controversy.

Holy Name initially refused to sign a transfer waiver that would grant Mensah eligibility at his new school, and even after Holy Name decided to sign the waiver, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association seemed to do everything it could to keep Kevin sidelined.

Mensah was forced to sit out the first two games of his team’s eight-game regular season. He was then granted two temporary injunctions in state court. The MIAA appealed both of those injunctions, and the threat of Mensah once again being sidelined loomed over the senior every week as he prepared for the Rams’ next opponent.

Mensah was finally able to exhale on Oct. 28, just hours before his team was set to play Fitchburg, when a state appeals court denied the MIAA’s latest appeal of his injunction, clearing the way for him to finish the season.

That is the story most high school football fans around Central Mass. know, but many may not realize that Mensah’s departure from Holy Name and subsequent transfer to Shepherd Hill were both the results of a prep school recruitment gone awry.

Bravehearts’ local quartet has spring in their step

In Worcester, where our red-stitched roots run as deep as any American city, it’s never too early to talk a little baseball.

Sure, snow’s been falling and the temperatures are dropping, but the Worcester Bravehearts already have their sights set squarely on another round of spring and summer nights at Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field.

“Most people think it’s too early to talk about baseball, but some of our players get to work in late January or early February,” said Dave Peterson, general manager of the Bravehearts, who will begin their fourth season in the Futures Collegiate Baseball League on June 2. “So, talking about baseball [now] is exactly what we should be doing.”

The team recently announced 11 players from last season’s roster — which produced a regular-season best 37-18 record — are expected to return for 2017. That list includes six players from Massachusetts, five 2016 Futures League all-stars and four players from the Worcester area.

Dante Ricciardi of West Boylston, back for his third season with the Bravehearts, headlines the local quartet, along with fellow Worcester Academy alum Nick Barry of Grafton, former Holy Name star Joe Caico and Jack Riley of St. Peter-Marian and West Boylston.

Tym Dore: Railers brought me to Worcester, city keeps me wanting more

“I had grown up in the Pioneer Valley and was familiar with the hardships that cities like Lowell, Springfield and Worcester faced. After being away from Massachusetts the past few years, my wife and I came to Worcester to meet with the Railers, and we were hooked.” Find out more about what drew a young, small-town family to become certified fans of the Woo.