On Saturday, February 9, 2019, Coventry High School held their Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at Quidnessett Country Club in North Kingstown where the latest inductees were honored.
The following is a recap of the highlights and accomplishments of each recipient.
1957 Baseball Team
The 1957 Coventry High School Knotty Oakers baseball team earns another first, becoming the first team to be inducted into the Coventry Public Schools Athletic Hall of Fame. Over 60 years ago, they won the first championship of any sort in the school’s history when they claimed the Southern Division crown with an 11-4 victory over East Greenwich on the final day of the season.
Just days before, Coventry trailed rival West Warwick by a single game in the standings before they went on to defeat the Wizards, 8-7 in a come-from-behind 11th inning victory. Days later, Coventry’s win over East Greenwich was coupled by another West Warwick defeat, handing the Knotty Oakers the Southern Division championship with an overall record of 10-2.
Members of the team included: James Fraza (batboy), Paul Wragg (HOF Class of 2016), Harold Whitey” Fell (HOF Class of 2015), Louis Moschetti, Richard St. Jean, Kenneth Wilkenson, Tuxie Tremblay, Ernie Rice, Joe Duarte, Peter Caplette, Ricard Marcello, David Leroux, Bob Andrews, Arnie Senerchia, Walter “Bookie” Biros and Coach Ted Ciesla.
The 1957 championship began the long and proud history of Coventry High School athletics within the Rhode Island Interscholastic League.
A 2001 graduate of Coventry High School, Campbell graduated as one of the best football players in school history. As a standout back, he was named to the 1st Team All-State in both 1999 and 2000. He is the only Coventry High School player listed on the Rhode Island All-Star Football All-Time roster.
After graduation, Campbell became involved in power lifting and Mixed Martial Arts competition. He is a three-time national champion in power lifting. At the age of 21, he took the bronze medal at the IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) World Championships. He could squat 666 pounds, bench press 440 pounds and deadlift 679 pounds.
Additionally, Campbell is also a former CES (Classic Entertainment Sports) Lightweight MMA champion and the Reality Fighting MMA Welterweight champion. At one time, he was ranked among the top 25 lightweight fighters in the world.
Now a certified trainer with the National Strength and Conditioning Association, Campbell is currently working at Northeast Sports Training and Rehabilitation in Warwick, RI where he trains both high school and college athletes.
“I’ve always considered myself just an average person with the un-average will to succeed,” he said.
A 2010 graduate of Coventry High School, Fortier participated in basketball and softball, earning eight varsity letters over her the span of four years. Prior to attending CHS, she was elected Student Athlete of the Year at Knotty Oak Middle School where she won a state championship in softball.
Although Fortier was an excellent basketball player, earning 2nd or 3rd Team All-Division all four years as well as MVP awards in 2008 and 2009, it was in softball where she left her greatest mark.
Winning MVP awards from 2007- 10, Fortier was also selected 1st Team All-State in three of those years (’07, ’08 and ’10). During that time, she helped guide the Oakers to back-to-back state titles in ’09 and ’10, while picking up a number of individual awards herself. In 2010, she received the RI Cox Award in softball as well as the Gatorade Player of the Year accolade. Additionally, Fortier was voted “Most Athletic” by her classmates before going on to receive the Outstanding Athlete Award at that year’s annual awards ceremony. To round it all out, she was also the Providence Journal Bulletin Honor Roll nominee from Coventry High School.
After graduation, Fortier attended Stony Brook University and then Fordham University. In 2013 and 2014 she helped lead the Rams of Fordham to back-to-back A-10 titles, while earning the ECAC Player of the Year Award as well as the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Award. After graduating, Fortier went on to coach at Hofstra University and then Florida Atlantic University before returning to Rhode Island where she is currently the owner of Power Alley Softball in Smithfield.
A 1982 graduate of Coventry High School, Gaffney participated in baseball and wrestling. As a junior, he was on track to win a state championship in wrestling before suffering a season-ending injury.
The following year, he made a successful comeback, winning the 185-pound weight class as well as making 1st Team All-State before going on to do the same at the New England Championships, earning himself a spot on the All New England team.
The 1982 Oaker wrestling team also won the state title that year, helping to set off a run of 17 consecutive titles. That year’s team also won the first of four New England championships.
A member of the Lettermen’s Club at Coventry High School, Gaffney was inducted into the Rhode Island Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2012.
Currently, he serves as the school’s head wrestling coach, a position he has held since 2009. During that time, he has coached numerous All-State wrestlers and helped lead the Oakers to numerous top-five finishes at the Rhode Island State Championship Meet.
“Charlie Gaffney is in coaching for all the right reasons. He always does what is in the best interest of his student athletes,” assistant coach Mike Bucacci said of him.
Meleah Hall McKay
A 1995 graduate of Coventry High School, McKay was an active athlete, taking part in cross country, basketball, tennis and softball, earning a total of nine varsity letters during her career.
As a freshman, she received the Miss Hustle Award in basketball before being named to 1st Team All-Division, 2nd Team All-Class and 3rd Team All-State as a sophomore. McKay was also the team MVP and named to the CHS Holiday Tournament and the Injury Fund All-Tournament teams.
During her junior year, McKay was named 1st Team All-Division, All-Class and All-State in basketball. She was also the MVP of both her team and the CHS Holiday Tournament, while being named to the All-Tournament team as well. In softball, she was 1st Team All-Division and All-State.
Her senior year saw her named to 1st Team All-Division in tennis while finishing as a state finalist in the doubles tournament. Once again, she was 1st Team All-Division, All-Class and All-State in basketball and 1st Team All-Division and All-State in softball. For the third consecutive year, she was named to the CHS Holiday Tournament team in addition to the State Tournament team for the second time. On top of it all, McKay was selected as the Providence Journal Honor Roll Nominee from Coventry High School.
“Meleah relishes a challenge while always showing an interest and concern for others. Her dynamic, outgoing personality enables her to make friends easily, and she is respected by both her peers and the faculty.”- Ken Morin, Basketball Coach.