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by John Cardullo, sportswriter
Michelle Rawcliffe, Central HS Athletic Director, makes the Energizer Bunny seem like a slacker.
Trying to talk to Michelle
Rawcliffe for this story, is like trying to catch the road runner, she never
stops moving! Never slows down and is constantly on the go. You get the feeling
that she is in a thousand different places at once.
At a recent basketball game
where the Central Boys’ team was about to begin their senior night festivities,
Michelle entered the facility having just finished up with her duties at
Central’s main building. She hit the ground running making sure that the
benches were ready for both the home and away teams arrival, then off to check
out the activity that was going on as the girls’ basketball team was finishing
their final practice, as they were preparing for their upcoming home play-off
game against Warwick’s Tollgate High School.
Michelle talks to staff,
coaches, and the players often while she is walking to and from different
stations of activity all along the floor of the Providence Career and Technical
Academy where Central practices and plays all of its home basketball games and
indoor track meets. Then she heads across the street to Central High School to
check on the wrestling team which practices and hosts all of their home meets
in their gym.
She is in perpetual motion
and if you want a minute of her time you must keep walking and stay with her.
It isn’t because she doesn’t have the time for you, it’s just because she wants
to make sure that all of Central’s athletic activities are moving along in the
I recently had the
opportunity to sit down with Michelle and talk to her about her career and what
direction she would like to see Central’s athletics head towards. “It is my
goal to provide a system of support and success for each athlete.” said Michelle,
“the sense of Central’s history in athletics, community, and pride runs very
deep here. I am trying, with the help of my coaches, to bring back that sense
The message must be getting
through, because the Central sports teams have been achieving a lot of success
in both athletics, and in the classroom. “The perception of Central’s student
athletes and the inner-city school population as a whole is often skewed.”
“What I have come to realize is that our student athletes are as
intelligent, polite, and capable as any student athlete in the state many of
our athletic teams, over the years, have received multiple good sportsmanship
Michelle knows something
about success and support through sports firsthand. At Warwick Veterans
Memorial high school, she played both soccer and softball for the Hurricanes.
In softball she was named to the All-State team, All Division, and All City,
and as the goalkeeper on the soccer team she was named All City and All
Attending Keene State College,
Michelle was the team’s second goalkeeper. Keene State went to the Division II
National Championship tournament her freshman season. After graduating Keene
State, with her degree in hand, she returned home determined to become a health
and physical education teacher. Her first teaching job was at the Prout School
in Narragansett, where she spent six years and doubled as the school’s
Assistant Athletic Director. She then moved on for a year at Providence’s
Classical High School, then to Central High School for five years, before
spending a year each at Mt. Pleasant and the Feinstein School.
Michelle currently is a
physical education and health teacher at the Providence Career and Technical
Academy, the Athletic Director at Central High School, as well as the head coach
of the Central High School Lady Knights softball team. “I have the unique
opportunity of working in both schools. I enjoy getting to help the student athletes
reach their goals, both in the classroom and on their respected sports teams.”
In her “off” time, before she
retired from the sport, Michelle spent all of her free time playing the sport
she loves, softball. During her softball career she was inducted into both the
New England USSSA and the Rhode Island Slow Pitch Softball Hall of Fame. She
played for Kohler’s Fair Warning which at the time was a regional women’s
softball powerhouse, she even traveled on the national circuit for a year with
the Diamond Queens which were based out of Tennessee.
Michelle returned to the
Rhode Island/New England traveling circuit, hooking up with teams such as
Commotion, Fair Warning, and Bad Intentions. “Fair Warning finished in the top
4 in the A, B and C divisions multiple times and while on Commotion her team
finished as the runner up in the A division. “That team was a lot of fun, we
put the team together with all friends just for that reason- to have fun. For
the two years that we were together we didn’t win that many tournaments,
however we completely killed it in our run for the top spot during the world’s.
We took out a lot of teams including Fair Warning, but unfortunately we fell
short, finishing in 2nd place. My passion for softball will never be
Michelle’s passion is to now help Central High School athletics get back to their glory days when they were a powerhouse in multiple sports. “It all begins with the athletes and having coaches who care. If those two parts of the equation are in place, then success will follow. Success isn’t always measured by wins and losses. It’s in the character and sportsmanship of the athletes and how the teams represent the school. If they take care of business in those areas, the wins will take care of themselves. It’s exciting and exhausting, it’s fulfilling and rewarding, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”