Cooley to be inducted into Boys & Girls Clubs Hall
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
It’s one thing to say your goal is to give back to the community, but what does it say when your community decides to beat you to the punch?
That’s what has happened to Providence basketball coach Ed Cooley, who will be one of seven local leaders inducted into the Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence Hall of Fame Wednesday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
“I’m really just proud to be associated with them, I learned a lot over there,” Cooley said, a bit overwhelmed with the idea that his boyhood “hangout” has bestowed this honor upon him. “Roosevelt Benton, who was the director of the Southside Club, recently passed and I know he’s smiling down upon us. He always took care of kids, and looked out for the community. That’s why I believe in community service, he was just a really, really good guy and made a huge impression upon me.”
Founded in 1868, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence is the nation’s oldest continually operated Boys & Girls Club. For 144 years, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence have provided a safe and positive environment for children and youth in the neighborhoods where they live. With the help of professionally trained staff, the Clubs offer guidance for kids who need it most; hopefully, resulting in immediate and long-lasting positive impact by helping to develop the self-esteem and skills needed to succeed as adults.
“Many of us growing up looked at it as a safe haven from the streets,” Cooley said. “The summer programs aren’t funded enough. If they’re funded the right way, it allows kids the opportunity to create synergy in that community, to feel good about themselves and for the community to feel good about them.
“Mini basketball is when I started playing as a little kid, with 8-foot rims,” Cooley recalled. “There were leagues, we played teams from Boston and New York, and we were called the ‘Southside Sixers.’ I just remember the basketball leagues and one summer when I was in charge of the gym playing ping pong, we’d have tournaments and foosball.
“It was a really good environment to be around.”
A native of Providence, Cooley never strayed far from the club while attending Central High School and twice earning Rhode Island High School Player of the Year honors for his accomplishments on the basketball floor. All told, Cooley was a part of it all from 1979 to 1993, working for the club while attending Stonehill College as a counselor in their summer program. And as you might imagine, he also worked in the gym. “We played a lot of games against bigger guys in there. It would get us tougher.”
It would also leave a lasting impression in terms of community involvement, as well. The community that took him in as a young boy, kept him and taught him how to grow up as a young man, now honors him. “Stay involved and get involved, it can teach you things later in life that we weren’t prepared for when we were younger. Learn how to integrate and be incredibly selfless. You won’t be sorry.”
The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence is “to enable and inspire children and youth, especially those from diverse or difficult circumstances, to reach their full potential as productive, responsible, and healthy members of their community, the State of Rhode Island, and the nation.” Each of the 2012 inductees was an active Club member during their youth and attributes that experience to helping them succeed in life.
The Class of 2012 includes:
• Joe Baxter, District Manager, Staples, Inc.
• Ed Cooley, Head Coach, Providence College Men’s Basketball
• Richard R. Kohler, Buyer/Planner (Retired)
• Kate McCaughey, Miss Rhode Island USA 2011
• Walter F. McLaughlin, McLaughlin Automotive Stores (Retired)
• Michael A. Solomon, Providence City Council President
• Matthew J. Soltysiak, Esq., United States Air Force (Posthumously)
The induction ceremony Wednesday evening is open to the public and serves as a vital fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence. The event is from 5:30-7:00 pm in the Budweiser Lounge of the Dunkin Donuts Center. Tickets are $50 per person with cocktails and light hors d’oeuvres served. If you’re interested in tickets or more information, contact David Bodah at (401) 444-0750 x105.