Feb. 22, 2010
WARWICK, R.I. - Rhode Island head baseball coach Jim Foster and 2009 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Dan Rhault were honored at the 64th Annual Words Unlimited Awards Banquet, Sunday night at The Radisson in Warwick, R.I. Foster received the Men's Sports Coach of the Year award while Rhault was recognized for `Story of the Year'.
While Rhault's accomplishments alone could have put him in the running for the Male Athlete of the Year award, it was the story that led to his success that was celebrated last night.
A native of Lincoln, R.I., Rhault was diagnosed with acute leukemia when he was four years old and underwent nearly four years spinal taps and chemotherapy. After a long battle with the disease, Rhault went into remission and has been cancer free ever since.
Though he often viewed his early struggles as a curse, he now looks back and uses those same experiences as motivation to persevere through whatever obstacles life throws his way.
As a freshman on the URI baseball team, he appeared in 12 games and recorded just three hits. The following season, he improved his .125 average to .222 and went on to bat .316 as junior.
Rhault finished his senior season leading a very talented URI team in nearly every offensive category, including batting average, RBI, home runs, grand slams, multiple-hit games, multiple-RBI games, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.
He set a new school record for single-season RBI's (60) and fell just one shy of the top spot for single-season hits and home runs. For his successes, he was named the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and was an honorable mention on Ping Baseball's National Team of the Year.
Following the conclusion of the season, Rhault was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 26th round of the 2009 MLB Draft and spent the past summer playing rookie ball in their system for the Princeton Rays.
Foster, meanwhile, guided the Rhody baseball team to a program-best 37 wins and a trip to the Atlantic 10 title game last season. The Rams also posted victories over No. 8 Miami, No. 11 Oklahoma State and No. 25 Ohio State. In defeating the eighth-ranked Hurricanes, URI became the ﬁrst unranked team to hold Miami scoreless since 2001.
Rhody kept the momentum rolling in league play, finishing second overall in the Atlantic 10 and advancing to the Conference's championship game by way of downing top-seeded Dayton by seven runs.
With just two seniors on the team, the 2009 Rams put together what, arguably, is the best season in URI baseball history. Foster saw seven players collect All-Conference honors - including Rhault, a National Team honorable mention. Four Rams earned All-New England honors while pitcher Nick Greenwood was A-10's first-ever recipient of a Rawlings Gold Glove Award.
For his team's accomplishments, Foster was an honorable mention for College Baseball Insider's National Coach of the Year award. He also was named the 2009 New England Division I Coach of the Year as his team received the BoSox Club's Division I Team of the Year award.
A former standout catcher at Providence College, Foster has amassed 125 victories in just four years at the helm of the URI program. He has produced five MLB draft picks - including four this past season - and boasts the program's highest-ever selection as junior Eric Smith was picked 60th overall in the second round of the 2009 draft.
Other Words Unlimited award recipients were:
Hall of Fame inductee, John Parente - John Parente has been the director of athletics at Johnson & Wales since 2001 and the R.I. Commissioner of American Legion Baseball since 1999. During a 24-year career in radio, he received 12 Associated Press awards for news/sports coverage.
Hall of Fame inductee, Carolyn Thornton - Carolyn Thornton was the first full-time female sports writer hired by the Providence Journal, where she's worked for the last 21 years. She also was the first female elected president of Words Unlimited and served in that position from 1995-98.
Amby Smith Award, Don Tencher - Don Tencher has served as the director of athletics at Rhode Island College for 14 years. He oversees an intercollegiate athletic program that, in 2008-09, completed its must successful year in school history and which set a school record for overall victories. He's had a key role in RIC's Capital Campaign which has raised $5 million, with an athletic endowments fund of over $1.2 million.
Frank Lanning Award, Mike Tranghese - Mike Tranghese was the Big East Conference commissioner from 1990 until his retirement on June 30, 2009. He was the leader in the formation of Big East football, which began in 1991. During his tenure, the Big East championship slate was expanded from seven men's championships in 1979 to 24 men's and women's championships.
Bill Cawley Award, Dr. Paul Narcessian - Dr. Paul Narcessian entered the Senior Olympics as a hammer thrower in 1989 at the age of 77. At one time before he retired from competition at 92, he held a total of 33 world and United States records in this event.
Male Athlete of the Year, Jordan Burke - Brown University's Jordan Burke was the 2009 USILA Division I Goalie of the Year and a First Team All-American. He's the first player in Ivy League history to earn Player of the Year honors in consecutive years. He also was a USILA Scholar All-American.
Female Athlete of the Year, Bianca Aboubakare - Brown University's Bianca Aboubakare earned First Team All-Ivy League tennis honors for the second straight year. She was ranked as high as No. 2 in the East Region last season and finished with a No. 11 regional singles ranking. Women's Sports Coach of the Year, Dennis Grassini - Dennis Grassini led the CCRI women's soccer team to a runner-up finish in NJCAA Division I. CCRI was 17-3 and won its ninth consecutive Region XXI title and its first district title since 2003.
Team of the Year, CCRI women's soccer - The Lady Knights advanced to the NJCAA Championship Tournament where they lost two games by one goal. They lost only one game during the regular season and had seven players selected First Team All-Region XXI.
Small College Achievement Award, Rhode Island College softball - RIC finished 42-7 overall - the most wins in program history - and captured a fifth consecutive Little East Conference regular-season championship. The team also won a fourth consecutive LEC Tournament.
Community Service Award, Lorenzo Perry - Former Bryant University football star Lorenzo Perry has worked with children in the Mount Hope Neighborhood Association and shown them how to succeed as they grow older. He's coached the neighborhood's Pop Warner football team to a New England championship.
Schoolboy Athlete of the Year, Andrew Springer - Westerly's Andrew Springer set 10 state records in both indoor and outdoor track. As a senior, he won the Nike Indoor Nationals Championship in the mile, the Rhode Island indoor state championship in three distance events and the state cross-country championship.
Schoolgirl Athlete of the Year, Maddie Carrellas - A three-sport athlete (lacrosse, soccer and ice hockey) at St. George's, Maddie Carrellas earned 2009 All-American, Academic All-American and First Team All-ISL honors after captaining the lacrosse team to a 15-3 record.
Schoolboy Sports Coach of the Year, Carnell Henderson - Woonsocket High's Carnell Henderson guided the Villa Novans to the Division II Super Bowl championship. The victory capped a season that began with the city's public school athletic programs in doubt because of possible budget cuts and was a tribute to his older brother, Curtis, an assistant coach, who passed away during the season.
Schoolgirl Sports Coach of the Year, Dan Greene - After guiding Prout to the Division III volleyball championship in 2005 and the Division III title each year from 2006-08, Dan Greene last fall led the Crusaders to an 18-0 record and the state title in their first year in Division I.