EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence High School golf team will most definitely tee it up once again in the spring of 2013 and likely beyond after Townies’ head coach Bill McEnery helped procure the necessary funding to keep the program on the course.
Mr. McEnery, among others, worked tirelessly over the last several weeks to gather the minimum amount of cash, in the neighborhood of $4,000, needed for East Providence to field a team in time for next season. The Townies were the beneficiary of one quite significant donation, $5,000, from city businessman and golf enthusiast Michael Huber.
Mr. Huber is an owner of QML Inc. located on Ferris Avenue in the Rumford section of the city. He is a former caddie at Wannamoisett Country Club, who now sits on the revered local golf course’s board of directors. Mr. Huber, in fact, first became aware of the EPHS golf team’s plight after seeing a poster Mr. McEnery put up at Wannamoisett, seeking assistance from the community to help save the program.
“I said a thousand thank yous to him,” Mr. McEnery said of Mr. Huber’s generosity. “It was very, very nice of him. He’s a very nice person to do something like this. I’m overwhelmed, really.”
Mr. Huber’s gift brought the total amount raised by Mr. McEnery and his group to $6,300. That money is more than enough for the program to play in 2013, especially since Mr. McEnery, himself an avid golfer and retired EPHS teacher, said he will not take a salary to coach the team. Four other benefactors, in various sums, donated the remaining $1,300.
Though he now has enough money in the coffers to play next spring, Mr. McEnery is not done trying to raise funds for the team.
“My goal is to raise $10,000. I figure that would give the team at least three more years to play. Hopefully by then, the golf program will be back in the (school) budget,” Mr. McEnery explained. “I’m not going to take a salary for next year, at least. I didn’t think it was right. How can ask people for money to support the program and then take some for myself?”
He and a group of supporters will conduct the first-ever “Townie Cup” Inter-club Tournament on Sunday, Oct. 14, at Firefly Golf Course in Seekonk. Several members from Wannamoisett, Metacomet (the Townies’ home course) and Segregansett Country Clubs will team up along with a group of unaffiliated golfers to contest the cup.
The actual trophy that will be presented to the winners of the event was donated by the EPHS athletic department and director Paul Amaral. One-time EPHS golfer, current Massachusetts Golf Association executive director and former RIGA executive director Joe Sprague Jr. is the tournament’s co-chairman along with Mr. McEnery. Mr. Sprague, of course, is the son of the legendary Joe Sprague Sr., himself a former EPHS coach and executive director of the RIGA.
Those wishing to donate to the golf program can do so by calling Mr. McEnery at 401-438-1959 or 401-302-0249 or by sending checks made payable to Friends of Townies Athletics to Bill McEnery, 160 Ferris Ave., Rumford, R.I. 02916.
Returning members of the EPHS golf team will participate in the event. They’ll serve as bag valets, removing players clubs from their cars, at the start of the tournament. They’ll tend the flags once play begins and then assist in the running of post-tournament activities.
“The kids have been coming to our meetings and they’re going to play a big part in the tournament. They’re very appreciative of what people have done for them,” Mr. McEnery said.
The need to raise cash to keep the EPHS golf program afloat came to bare over the last several months. It was known the team was on the chopping block at a would-be savings of $7,000, a victim of proposed cuts by the Budget Commission and school administrators to the Fiscal Year 2012 budget, which includes the ‘12-13 school year. That prospect became official about six weeks ago when the Commission formally approved the FY12 plan.
Before and since, Mr. McEnery — with the blessing of the East Providence Budget Commission, the School Committee, Interim Superintendent Edward Daft, EPHS Principal Janet Sheehan and Mr. Amaral — has reached out to several past and current members of the EPHS golf community for their assistance.
A core group of some 25 supporters attended two meetings, which explored ways of raising money to keep the program afloat. Another gathering is planned for late August, early September is preparation for the fund-raising tournament.
“A lot of people have helped us so far,” Mr. McEnery added. “We couldn’t have done this without them.”
Golf is not the only sports casualty in the budget. The much-publicized decision to cut programs at the middle school level remains in effect. Two organizations — Project 106 and East Providence Middle School Athletics Boosters Club — are currently working to bring sports back at Riverside and Martin Middle Schools.
In addition, a proposal to cut the salaries of high school coaches by as much as 60 percent has been made. Collective bargaining issues with the teachers’ union, however, have prevented the Budget Commission from unilaterally implementing the measure. Sources indicate the Budget Commission legal team has broached the union about the topic, though nothing as of yet has been formally negotiated.