In 1953 a group of enthusiastic and dedicated men and women from the city of Cranston, Rhode Island, had the vision to create organized activities for the development of their children. The program began when Leo Castiglioni formed a football league consisting of four squads. Soon Leo, a former semi-pro himself, called on fellow Cranstonite, Don Vivienzo. Together they set out to recruit others to the cause and added hockey to the action. These were the first organized youth programs in hockey and football in the State of Rhode Island. Necessity forced the program to be located at the building designated for the Budlong Pool. Originally intended to be called Cranston’s League of Champions, this sports and youth development concept was permanently chartered under the name of Cranston League for Cranston’s Future. Better known simply as CLCF, this organization has grown from a handful of caring people to a social organization embodying hundreds of adults and nearly 5000 youths, both boys and girls, from the city of Cranston and surrounding communities. In the early years this program ran on a bare bones budget and the generosity of other programs. The baseball uniforms came from Little League and the hockey uniforms were hand-me-downs from Classical High School in Providence. The participation fee for each child was $1 per year – for all sports combined! Later individual sport fees of $1 were required. Things have changed slightly since then.
Time and budding enthusiasm expanded the sports offerings: hockey was added in 1955. In 1956 Leo and Don, who had been a player agent for the Little League and had seen too many potential players left out, added baseball as an alternative to Little League. Cheerleading was included to bring girls into the football program. Wrestling joined the fold in 1960. Numerous other sports were included that in time faded away: ice-skating, street hockey, girl’s gymnastics, and girl’s volleyball. All served their purpose and were reluctantly eliminated as kids’ interests evolved and they moved on to other sports. Over the next decades more sports were added: track in 1971, soccer in 1972. Chess joined the program in 1988 and gymnastics and cross-country in the early 90’s. By the late 90’s bowling had become a part of the mix and gymnastics was gone. In 2001 judo was included.
Along with the social emphasis on equality CLCF leaders realized that there were insufficient programs for girls. A new sub-division of CLCF was formed to specifically address the needs of these girls: the Girls Athletic League for Sports or as they are more simply known, GALS. Very significant numbers of girls joined the basketball and softball programs. The program grew in size, prestige and skill. In 1988 GALS ceased to be independent and was reabsorbed as part of the CLCF organization. In Spring 2003 the GALS U16 softball team was crowned national champions, a first for CLCF!
The organization is now housed in the CLCF Building, 970 Pontiac Avenue, Cranston. Sports programs are varied and cover all seasons of the year. CLCF is today one of the largest youth sports organizations in the United States and is Rhode Island’s most varied independent youth development sports program. Each program is open to any youth from the city of Cranston. If available space and opportunity allow all programs are open to the youth from any surrounding communities as well. CLCF in its entirety is a self-supporting, non-profit organization. The Board of Directors, coaches, and all adult personnel are unpaid volunteers. They dedicate their time and talents because they love kids. CLCF also hosts two adult programs for its past and present members: golf and bowling. In 1970 Nancy Bagian designed the all-encompassing logo for CLCF. Two years later she became the first president of GALS and also designed their equally unique logo.
CLCF is the most varied and one of the largest sports organizations in the United States. In 1992 CLCF was heralded at a national level as a significant, unique and dynamic program for children when it was honored by Cox Cable in their Steering Kids Straight Program. Leo Castiglioni was acknowledged as a role model for sports coaches. Cranston has a right to consider herself special for having Cranston League for Cranston’s Future in her midst.