Veteran girlsâ€™ basketball coach Fred Saunders (right), who will step aside as St. Raphael Academyâ€™s athletic director at the end of the month, led the Saints to a perfect Division II-Central regular season and a spot in the state finals this past winter.
PAWTUCKET â€” In rather brisk fashion, the winds of change have swept through the top tier of the athletic department at St. Raphael Academy.
Fred Saunders will step aside as the schoolâ€™s athletic director at the end of the month, giving way to a new face who is also being brought aboard as a fulltime physical education teacher at the local private Catholic high school. In Ray Tanguay, the Saints are getting an individual with three-plus decades as a coach and educator in the North Kingstown School Department. More recently, Tanguay served as an Adjunct Instructor at URIâ€™s Department of Kinesiology.
â€śWeâ€™ve always wanted to have a full-time presence at the school to take care of the athletic director duties, but we never had a candidate that would allow us to make that leap,â€ť said SRA President Dan Richard. â€śItâ€™s so critical because there are just so many things that come up over the course of the day. Plus you have the opportunity to build a good rapport with the athletes that you see throughout the day.
â€śI love Fred. Heâ€™s done a great job for the school,â€ť Richard continued. â€śI have nothing but the highest respect for Fred. I enjoyed working with him, but I know Mr. Tanguay is going to go on and do great things.â€ť
Serving as the chief overseer of SRA sports since predecessor Bruce Gammell resigned just prior to the start of the 2011-12 school term, Saunders doubles as the head coach for the girlsâ€™ varsity basketball program. This past season saw Saunders guide the Saints to a perfect regular season (16-0) in Division II-Central before falling to Rogers in the title game.
As of right now, Saunders has every intention of remaining at St. Raphael in a coaching capacity. Things could change, however, based on what his next move entails job-wise.
â€śI guess thatâ€™s the caveat,â€ť Saunders expressed. â€śIf Iâ€™m able to coach, I will coach. Thatâ€™s what Iâ€™m hoping.â€ť
Richard did not completely shut the door when asked about Saundersâ€™ coaching future at Saints.
â€śThatâ€™s to be determined. Weâ€™re looking at all different options and that is something the new AD will have to sit down and talk with me about,â€ť said the St. Raphael president. â€śWeâ€™ll make a determination at that time.â€ť
Saunders being relieved of his athletic director responsibilities coupled with Tanguay being handed the keys is a fairly recent development. According to Saunders, he was informed last Wednes-day that due to budgetary concerns, his position, which was part-time, was being cut.
â€śIt was news to me when I was told. They are trying to make cuts to make the school more viable. Unfortunately, that happened to be my job,â€ť Saunders said. â€śIâ€™m not happy. I wish I was still the AD, but Iâ€™m not. Youâ€™ve just got to move on.â€ť
Richard mentioned that St. Raphael had a strong group of applicants to select from. He also served as the point man to find Saundersâ€™ replacement. When the school went about the process of finding an athletic director following Gammellâ€™s departure nearly three years ago, then-Principal-President Maryann Donohue-Lynch formed a five-person selection committee that was handpicked by her.
When Saunders officially stepped into the breach in November 2011 â€“ initially he was named on an interim basis prior to becoming a permanent hire â€“ he was told that the possibility of transitioning the athletic directorâ€™s role into full-time employment was on the drawing board. Richard confirmed earlier this week that itâ€™s still a part-time job.
â€śIt was a part-time position with no benefits, but that didnâ€™t matter to me. I loved doing it and worked hard. I certainly liked working with the student population,â€ť Saunders noted. â€śItâ€™s cumbersome. Personally, I think itâ€™s a full-time position. I knew what I was getting into when I took the job.â€ť
Saunders was a financial advisor prior to assuming the AD duties at St. Raphael. Asked if he sees himself returning to the financial world, he answered, â€śThis gives me an opportunity to reassess some things. Iâ€™ll see what doors open up.â€ť
The plan is to have Tanguay start before the end of the month. â€śTheyâ€™ll be a little bit of a crossover,â€ť Richard said.
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03
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