For the second year in a row, Prout has new leadership in its athletic department.
This time, there are two leaders.
Duane Maranda and Kelly Moniz have been appointed co-athletic directors for the upcoming school year. Maranda is currently the football coach at Westerly and has been laying the groundwork for a career in athletic administration. Moniz is the parent of three Prout graduates and a longtime volunteer in the athletic program. She was the assistant athletic director last year.
Andrew Bevilacqua served one year in the athletic director’s role after taking over for Mike Traficante. With a young daughter at home, Bevilacqua decided to step away due to the time demands. He will remain as the school’s volleyball coach, a position he has held for several years.
When the job came open this time, school leaders explored the possibility of splitting the position among two people and ended up with strong candidates in Maranda and Moniz.
“We feel that Kelly and Duane will collectively provide the experiences and skills to build upon the many strengths of our athletic program,” principal David Estes said in a press release.
“An AD’s position is just so many hours,” Moniz said. “For one person to cover it and do it well, it’s just a lot. So we just approached it as a two heads are better than one kind of thing.”
Moniz brings institutional knowledge and varied perspectives to the table, having worked on the behind-the-scenes logistics and cheered from the stands. She was inducted into the Prout Athletic Hall of Fame in 2016 for her volunteer work.
“We have different strengths,” Moniz said. “Duane’s experience is coaching, primarily. That’s a big part of it, obviously. And my part of it is more the parent piece, the player piece, dealing with the day to day, fundraising, planning.”
Fundraising is a particularly big part of the job these days. Prout is in the midst of a campaign to generate money for a turf field.
“That’s definitely a big part of what’s next for us,” Moniz said.
Maranda will finish out a four-year stint as Westerly’s football coach this season before departing to focus solely on the Prout job. He has been targeting an athletic director’s job, earning a master’s degree in athletic administration and athletic administrator certification, but didn’t anticipate it happening now. He is a firefighter in East Hartford, Connecticut, and has a few years left before retirement. But the tag team at Prout was the right fit.
“I really didn’t plan on becoming an athletic director for a couple more years,” Maranda said. “But when Prout posted this job as a co-athletic director, and I looked into the details and discussed it with a few people, it just seemed like a really good opportunity for me. It fits perfectly with what I want to do, and to get experience right now.”
Watching from sidelines in Westerly, Maranda has been impressed with the athletic program he’s now joining.
“I’ve watched Prout kind of from afar, supervising basketball games and things like that at Westerly,” Maranda said. “I was very impressed with Dean Felicetti, their basketball coach, and Mike LaBarbera, the baseball coach. As a coach, when I go to games, a lot of times, I’m watching the coaches. I was impressed with those two guys in particular. Even last year, the boys basketball team had a little bit of a down year, but I’m watching their kids and they’re hard-working, not negative. Talking with other people around, it just seems like Prout has kids who are like that. I want to be around positive people and hard working people. From what I can tell, Prout is filled with those kinds.”
With the fall sports season already underway, Maranda and Moniz are diving right in.
“I think it’s going to be a little bit of a whirlwind because we’re getting started so late,” Maranda said. “Our immediate task is just to make sure all the coaches have everything they need at Prout, in order to start their season, and all the players have all their paperwork. I think once the season starts and all the sports are up and running, things might slow down and we can kind of get our feet underneath us.”