Russell Burlingame graduated from Ponaganset High School in 1964. This was the first graduating class to complete all 4 years in the new high school. He was class president his sophomore year. There were no athletic programs when the school opened in the Fall of 1960. The enthusiasm and anticipation of new activities was high within the new student body and faculty.
Cross Country was the first sport in which Russell participated. Winter sports were being organized and Russell chose basketball. He earned a varsity letter all 4 years, leading the team in scoring his junior and senior years. On the state level, Russell was one of the leading scorers in the Division and earned All-League honors twice. Ponaganset earned its first varsity basketball league victory that year. Russell was a member of the first baseball team organized the following spring and was selected as an All Star his junior year.
In the fall of 1961 football was offered and Russell recalls the thrill of being on the first opening kickoff for the PHS football program. Russell recalls that Avie said “we would always remember that moment”. The following year he scored 2 touchdowns in the school’s first (non league) football victory. He earned varsity letters for the next 3 years garnering All League honors and weekly coaches’ all-league selections. He was elected by teammates as co-captain his senior year.
Russell attended URI and pursued his interest in athletics. He taught Physical Education at Burrillville High School, coached basketball, served as Athletic Director, and was Department Chair for Physical Education & Health for the Burrillville School System. Russell coached Ponaganset Recreation basketball and had the privilege of serving as assistant basketball coach for the Ponaganset High School team from 1990 until 1996.