Pawtucket Times

Central Falls turns to Africo

Boys soccer coach named program’s new athletic director

- A little of this, a little of that …

• Carl Africo is excited. The new athletic director at Central Falls High School is raring to go.

Passion for his new job aside, Africo finds himself with more than a puncher’s chance when it comes to seeking to takeWarrio­r athletics to a higher stratosphe­re.

Unlike predecesso­r


Ficocelli, who was a part-time

AD who taught at the high school,

Africo was appointed on a fulltime basis

– the official announceme­nt was made right before

Thanksgivi­ng. Instead of spending his days shuffling from the classroom to the AD office and his nights overseeing home games, Africo takes comfort in knowing that he’ll have to concentrat­e on sports only.

“Fic [Ficocelli] did a lot of great things in CF. He’s going to be a tough act to follow, but he had a tough schedule,” said Africo. “With the new schedule, I don’t have to be there at eight o’clock in the morning and I no longer have to teach. I can focus solely on that job at hand and build on the great work that was done before me … take care of the kids and coaches and try to hang more banners and win more sportsmans­hip awards.”

Africo taught chemistry at Central Falls High. For the foreseeabl­e future, he’ll continue to serve as the school’s varsity boys soccer head coach.

Reached one night earlier this week, he noted that there’s upward mobility concerning adding sports at the high school level, yet one of his big-picture priorities is establishi­ng a feeder system at Calcutt Middle School and creating relationsh­ips with the city’s youth programs.

At the moment, wrestling, soccer (boys and girls), and basketball (boys and girls) are the only sports offered at Calcutt.

“Hopefully we can do a better job of supporting those [middle school] programs. That would help give a much-needed shot in the arm to the high school programs,” said Africo. “The more programs we can offer, the better off we can be.”

Another potential addition to Warrior athletics is the introducti­on of a student-athlete council that involves the captains from the teams from the correspond­ing season. Another idea would emphasize college recruiting and the proper steps that need to be taken.

“It’s about finishing what [Ficocelli, who’s off to become the AD at North Providence High] started,” said Africo.

With his son Ricky’s college soccer career at Johnson & Wales officially coming to an end last month, Africo believes he’s reached the point in his life where he can focus and devote all available energy to the task at hand.

“I’m ready to work hard at this,” said Africo.

• Some high school basketball coaching news to pass along as practice for the upcoming season is officially underway:

- At Lincoln High, Jeremy Wilner is the new boys’ head coach. He was previously an assistant at Pilgrim High. Wilner is also the owner, program director, and coach of the Basketball Club Rhode Island AAU program.

- Joining the Tolman/Shea girls ranks as co-head coach is Kimball Crossley, who was on the Tolman High boys’ staff last season. A pro baseball scout, Crossley hosted the monthly “Talkin’ PawSox” program in the early 1990s. Crossley takes the job that was previously held by Walter “Bunky” Gonzalez.

- Former Lincoln boys head coach Kent Crooks is sharing his vast knowledge as a volunteer assistant with the Central Falls boys program.

- Not even six months removed from graduating from Mount St. Charles, Alexander Gasbarro has signed on as the Mounties’ junior varsity boys assistant coach. A captain and two-year starter at Mount, Gasbarro is currently a freshman at Providence College.

• Leftover results from last Saturday’s Nike Cross Northeast regional girls’ crosscount­ry race:

- St. Raphael junior Rory Sullivan narrowly missed out on qualifying for this weekend’s Nike national meet after placing 12th (19:35.4).

- Cumberland sophomore Kiley DeFusco turned in her best performanc­e of the season, finishing 19th in 19:52.

- SRA junior Chandaniey Boyce took home 40th with a time of 20:32.2.

• Duke University Assistant Track & Field CoachAngel­o Posillico on adding Lincoln High senior Christian Toro to the Blue Devil program: “We’re thrilled to have Christian joining the Duke track & field family. I identified him early in our recruiting as one of the best young hammer throwers in the USA. Christian has an excellent understand­ing of the event and has the potential to develop into a major competitor in the NCAA. I can’t wait to get him here, but first I’m excited to see what he does with his final year of high school competitio­n.”

• It was a smooth operation at the high school girls’ tennis championsh­ips across all levels, an acknowledg­ment made in letter form by La Salle head coach Tom Martin to the R.I. Interschol­astic League. Specifical­ly, Martin wished to extoll the virtues of Pawtucket Assistant Athletic Director Frank Laliberte, who took on the role of RIIL Director of Tennis.

“I have just concluded my 36th season as the head coach of girls’ tennis at La Salle and I believe that Frank provided the most consistent, organized, active, and effective leadership that I have experience­d in my career. His steady guidance and rational decisions establishe­d a smooth season for all from the start of the season in late August until its conclusion,” Martin wrote. “His calm demeanor and confident leadership surfaced when he sacrificed a weekend in mid-October to oversee the smooth organizati­on and operation of the singles/doubles tournament which, from start to finish, was played and completed smoothly and without disruption or controvers­y. Throughout the entire season, Frank provided the necessary leadership that had been lacking for quite some time in girls’ tennis.”

• As part of last Saturday’s program at the Providence Career & Technical Academy field house, Jeremy Peña was asked about his current favorite MLB player.

In some ways, the choice provided by the 2022 World Series MVP was surprising. In other ways, Peña’s choice spoke volumes about the profound impact made by this particular individual who earlier this week was named the recipient of the 2021 Tony Conigliaro Award, per the Red Sox.

“Trey Mancini,” Peña shared, without a shred of hesitation in his voice.

Peña educated the audience on Mancini’s battle with cancer from a few years ago. Mancini joined Houston as a trade deadline acquisitio­n and partook in the same postseason celebratio­ns as the rookie shortstop.

“He didn’t know if he was going to play again,” said Peña. “He got back on the field and put the work in. Now he’s a World Series champion. He’s an inspiratio­n to all of us.”

• The more time goes by, the more you warm up to the possibilit­y of Xander Bogaerts continuing his baseball career in a city not named Boston.

• This column would have been longer, but it’s time to gear up for the annual PC-URI game on the hardwood. There are stories to write and podcasts to record. Stay tuned!

Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03 or email bmcgair@pawtuckett­ Check out the “Ocean State Sidelines” podcast that appears on www. pawtuckett­ and www. woonsocket­

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 ?? File photo by Ernest A. Brown ?? Central Falls boys soccer coach Carl Africo above, was named the district’s new athletic director after Anthony Ficocelli left to take over the same role at North Providence. Africo starts Monday, Dec. 15.
File photo by Ernest A. Brown Central Falls boys soccer coach Carl Africo above, was named the district’s new athletic director after Anthony Ficocelli left to take over the same role at North Providence. Africo starts Monday, Dec. 15.

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