EAST PROVIDENCE — As he oversaw one of his final games at the helm of East Providence School System sports, outgoing athletic director Paul Amaral said he had come to terms with his decision to step away from the job after over seven years in the position.
Mr. Amaral resigned as the East Providence AD late last week. Since, the job has been posted internally. It’s likely a new athletic director could be in place some time over the next seven days. He will return to the classroom, once again serving as a physical education/health teacher at the high school, a job he held prior to taking over as AD.
“I feel like I was blessed to be in the position for seven years. I guess it’s kind of like a seven-year itch. I was itching to get back to the classroom. And both of my predecessors, Ken Reale and Phil Ricci, each had the job for seven years before they left,” Mr. Amaral explained Friday night, Sept. 6, during an EPHS boys’ soccer game against Hope at Pierce Stadium.
“God works in mysterious ways as they say,” he continued. “I’m a man of faith. God has a direction for me. I was blessed to have such a long run as the AD. I may not like how it all came about, but I see that there are fruits that will come with this.”
Several factors played a role in Mr. Amaral’s decision to step down as athletic director, some of which he acknowledged and a few he wished to keep private. His salary for the job, approaching five figures on top of his pay as a tenured teacher, was cut by 60 percent along with other coaches and mentors in the system by the Budget Commission. The loss of middle school sports and the elimination of the assistant athletic director position also were factors in his opting to leave.
“There’s been a culture change in the system. And those things there definitely played a role,” Mr. Amaral said, alluding to the aforementioned cuts. “It’s always hard to leave a job you put so much time into, but after having over a week to think about it, I’m at peace about leaving. I’m going back to my roots in the classroom, back to teaching phys ed and health. I’m looking forward to it.”
Before he looked forward, Mr. Amaral took time to reflect on what he saw as his accomplishments as the E.P. athletic director. He pointed to the addition of varsity sports, increased fundraising efforts and the recent upgrades to the high school gym as some of ways he helped contribute to the athletic department as money was increasingly in short supply.
“Hopefully, I helped us get through some tough financial times. I tried to keep hope alive in the position,” Mr. Amaral said. “I think I added value to the coaches. I think they thought they could express themselves to me. I tried to be a good listener and help solve problems. A lot of the coaches stepped up fundraising-wise. I thought I helped facilitate that. And I helped bring the Friends of Townie (Athletics) organization together, make it into more of a fundraising organization. I helped move them in that direction.
“We had growth in sports with addition of boys and girls lacrosse and competition cheerleading. We created more green space at the high school. We started changing the facilities. I was part of the ‘Townie Project’ with the gym. That kept my heart going. We got the go-ahead for the softball field and Rob Traverse took off with that, did a great job. That was in response to losing our transportation budget. I worked closely with Coach Kevin Croke on hockey, especially because of that.
“After some tough times, I think we’re moving in the right direction. I feel good about my time as the athletic director. I think I did the job justice.”