EAST PROVIDENCE — Call it a case of all’s well that ends well.
Three days after putting their collective foot down, the fall sports’ coaches at East Providence High School received payment for their services on Monday morning. Townie athletic director Paul Amaral received confirmation from interim superintendant Dr. John DeGoes that the checks were available for pick up and distribution.
“Paul handed me my check, and that was that,” stated Alex Butler, the head coach for boys’ basketball and girls’ volleyball at East Providence.
The fall Townie coaches were expecting to receive their stipend last Friday, but that was before the city’s Budget Commission pulled back on an agreement that stipulated payment would be forthcoming during the next pay cycle following the last sports’ activity of the fall season.
Upon learning what had taken place, Butler rallied his fellow winter sports’ coaches together and – in a show of unified strength – they halted all of their responsibilities and duties.
Once word had leaked out, the ball was then placed in the court of those in charge of financial matters.
“You never know how these things work,” said Butler when asked if the media attention helped bring a quicker-than-anticipated resolution. “I didn’t get an explanation as to why they were given, but I also didn’t get an explanation as to why they were pulled back, either.”
Each sport has their own individual pay scale, as someone who coaches football isn’t in line to receive the same amount as the head of the cross-country team. Generally, a fall head coaching position at E.P. runs in the neighborhood of $3,000 with assistant coaches naturally receiving less.
Upon receiving the check from Amaral, Butler asked his athletic director if the winter coaches should expect a similar merry-go-round. The Budget Commission has already discussed the possibility of cutting coaching salaries up to 60 percent.
“Mr. Amaral thinks that there’s going to be more discussions regarding (payment for coaching services), but we haven’t heard anything,” said Butler. “I’m coaching right now without knowing whether I’m going to get paid, and I don’t foresee that changing anytime in the near future.”
Coaching under clouds of uncertainty “shows the dedication and commitment that the coaches at East Providence High School have for their kids and programs along with the community and school,” says Butler.
Generally, Butler conducts a Sunday afternoon practice in preparation for the coming week’s games. No such course of action took place this past Sunday, which made the head coach eager to reunite with his players on Monday. E.P. seeks its first Division I win Tuesday night at Coventry.
“I talked to a bunch of the kids and they’re excited,” Butler said. “I received a bunch of messages from people around the state supporting me in my stand and what I did. It’s nice to have that support, but it doesn’t make you feel better because you’re not doing the job that you love to do.”
Monday saw the Townies participate in a co-ed swim meet with Lincoln High and a boys’ track meet against Barrington and La Salle at the Providence Career & Technical Academy field house. Butler mentioned that plans are already underway to reschedule last Friday’s home basketball game against Bishop Hendricken with the hope of squeezing the contest in shortly after the resumption of school following Christmas vacation.