Friends of Townie Athletics tees up tourney, touts aid to East Providence sports

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EAST PROVIDENCE — As it attempts to have its voice heard above the recent rising din of sports groups soliciting donations, the Friends of Townie Athletics (FOTA) organization is seeking players to participate in its fourth annual golf tournament slated for Saturday, Sept. 22, at nearby Segregansett Country Club.

With middle school sports and the East Providence High School golf team having been the victims of cuts made by the state-appointed Budget Commission, supporters of both parties have been vocal and vigilant about raising awareness and money to assist in bringing each of the athletic programs back.

While the two middle school groups has struggled to drum up the over $100,000-worth of necessary financial backing required for its offerings, efforts by those attempting to keep the much less expensive seven-decade-old EPHS golf team going have been very fruitful. Spurred by head coach Bill McEnery, the golf team has raised nearly $7,000 to date — $5,000 alone from a single donor — which is more than enough to play next year. Plans are also in the works for a similar golf event fundraiser to take place in October.

“It’s difficult to raise money any time, but especially in this economy and with what’s happening in the city,” Friends of Townie Athletics President Clarence “Junior” Butler said recently. “I understand and appreciate what these other organizations are trying to do. Everybody is trying to accomplish the same thing, which is to help these kids play sports.”

For the better part of 20 years, Friends of Townie Athletics, an IRS-certified 501c3 non-profit organization, stood alone as the main fund-raising arm of sports programs not only for the high school but it has also given to programs at the middle school and beyond. While admitting its main priority is assisting the Interscholastic League endeavors at EPHS, the group has often over the years aided other youth sports organizations throughout the city.

“In the past we’ve supported the middle school programs,” said Bob Duarte, a long-time EPHS track coach, current assistant athletic director for the school system and a Friends of Townie Athletics board member.

“We’ve also contributed to other organizations not directly tied to the East Providence School System,” he continued. “We’ve donated to other worthy causes. We try to support sports in general in the city.”

The Friends golf tournament, with East Bay Automotive Inc. in Rumford serving as the title sponsor, has become its biggest annual fundraising event. The event has brought in an average of about $15,000 to the organization’s coffers each year. The money raised helps the athletic department fund team trips, provides awards and tokens of achievement to athletes each year and also fully funds the year-ending athletic banquet. In addition, the FOTA gives out two scholarships each spring, one each to a deserving male and female athlete. Any loss in dollars given to the organization has an immediate and direct effect on sports in East Providence.

“We’ve given something to just about every organization in the city,” Mr. Butler added. “I’ve been with the organization since its inception. We try to support all sports, not just those at the high school. We need people to be working together with us not separately.

“We appreciate all of the sponsors who have stuck with us through the years as we attempt to assist the kids. We’ll continue to fight the battle for the kids as long as the sponsors keep supporting our efforts. We have some very hard-working people in this organization, but we’re not the important ones. It’s the kids who are the most important along with the sponsors who continue to give to our cause.”

The fourth annual Friends of Townie Athletics Golf Tournament takes place Saturday, Sept. 22, at Segregansett Country Club. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. with tee-off at 1 p.m. The cost for this event is only $125 and includes 18 holes of golf, riding cart, dinner and various awards. Proper golf attire is required. Collared shirts and slacks or shorts. No jeans. No steel spikes are allowed on the course. All participants must be at least 18 years of age. The cost for the banquet and silent auction (only) will be $40. All proceeds go to Friends of Townies Athletics. The fund assists all the schools’ athletic programs. Tee sponsorships are also being sought at a cost of $100 each. For more information, contact Gregg Amore at gamore@epschoolsri.com or Paul Amaral at pamaral@epschoolsri.com or 401-435-7843. All donations to FOTA are tax deductible.

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