RIC's Scholar-Athletes Honored During State House Ceremony

Ten current Rhode Island College student-athletes and an alumnus were recognized by the Rhode Island House of Representatives and House Speaker Gordon D. Fox for their combined academic and athletic achievements.

Select scholar-athletes and alumni from Rhode Island College, the Community College of Rhode Island and the University of Rhode Island were invited to a reception in the House chamber on Monday (April 29) as public recognition for significant achievements in their academic and athletic pursuits at their respective institutions. The honorees also have demonstrated exemplary citizenzhip and community service.

The 10 scholar-athletes from Rhode Island College (pictured above, left to right) are junior Stacy Pokora (Wilton, Conn.) softball; senior Marisa Jandreau (Plainville, Conn.) softball; senior Conor McCloskey (Wakefield, R.I.) men’s cross country/track and field; senior Mike Sugermeyer (Hampden, Mass.) wrestling; sophomore Daria Braboy (Providence, R.I.) women’s track & field; sophomore Emmanuel Asiedu (Lincoln, RI) men’s soccer; senior Ethan Gay (Providence, RI) men’s basketball; senior Tahrike Carter (Brooklyn, NY) men’s basketball; and senior Kyle Harper (Rehoboth, MA) men’s golf. 

Athletic alumni from each school were also honored. Arthur "Art" Pontarelli ’71, MEd ’74, was RIC’s athletic alumnus award recipient.

Pontarelli (pictured in the back of the photo, behind Sugarmeyer and beside Gary Penfield, vice president for student affairs) has had a relationship with Rhode Island College that began in 1966 and continues to this day.

The Pawtucket native was a standout at Tolman High School as a forward in basketball and a pitcher/first baseman in baseball. Pontarelli earned All-State honors for his prowess on the baseball diamond as a senior in 1966.

When it came time to choose a college, he opted to stay local and enroll at Rhode Island College. As a student-athlete for the Anchormen, Pontarelli played one year of basketball for legendary Athletic Hall of Fame Coach Bill Baird, and starred for four seasons in his primary sport of baseball for Hall of Fame Coach and former major leaguer Dave Stenhouse. Pontarelli was one of the team’s top pitchers, and spent his off days playing first base.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education in 1971 and followed with his master’s degree in secondary administration three years later.

Pontarelli was a history teacher and school administrator at Ponaganset High School in the Foster-Glocester school district from 1971 until his retirement in 1997.

He also compiled an impressive coaching resume, which began as an assistant baseball coach at RIC under Stenhouse from 1976 to 1980. During this time span, the baseball program recorded its most dominant stretch, winning the New England Small College Athletic Conference every year and advancing to the NCAA Tournament four times, highlighted by reaching the Division III College World Series in 1979.

After Stenhouse stepped down, Pontarelli served as head coach from 1981 through 1984 before becoming head baseball coach for the Community College of Rhode Island.

Pontarelli built the Knights into one of the region’s top junior college programs during his tenure from 1985 through 1992. In an eight-year stretch, CCRI won the New England Championship four times and captured the regional championship three times, which qualified the Knights to play in the Junior College World Series. Pontarelli had eight players go on to play professional baseball, including pitcher Rheal Cormier, who played 16 seasons of Major League Baseball.

When his coaching career ended, he became a professional baseball scout with the Colorado Rookies from 1992 to 2007, and he currently works as a scout with the New York Mets.

Pontarelli has remained connected with Rhode Island College, serving as the executive director of the Anchor Club, which is RIC’s athletic booster club, since 2000. He has also served as the chair of the Athletic Hall of Fame Committee.

He lives in Lincoln, R.I., with his wife Teresa. Pontarelli has a son and a daughter, as well as three stepchildren and 13 grandchildren.