Cranston High School East head football coach Tom Centore hangs up the headset after 33 years in Rhode Island high school football.
Since the age of 6 years old Tom Centore can remember going to football practices at Johnston High School. Centore's Father, Tony Centore was their long time coach. Tony Centore kept his son around the sport of football his entire life. When asked how long he has been coaching football, Centore's response was entertaining.
"Do you mean paid or unpaid? I have been coaching since I can remember, but didn't receive my first paid position until 1988", said Centore.
Centore graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 1988 and immediately came on board with his Father's coaching staff at Johnston High School. The father son duo stayed there until 2002 when Centore took on the Cranston High School East Thunderbolts football head coching position. Centore's Father left Johnston at that point and followed his Son to Cranston. Another coach to come on board with Centore was former Thuderbolts Super Bowl Champion, quarterback from 1987, Jimmy Dionizio.
"Not only is he [Centore] brilliant with the X's and O's, but he is even better at leading young men, his character and integrity are unmatched” said Dionizio.
Furthermore, leading such a historically successful program was a big task. The program had taken a bit of a hit and Centore took East from around 25 kids in 2003 to around 90 kids in 2005. Subsequently, the Thunderbolts football team experienced a DII Super Bowl victory in 2005. Centore explained why it was so special to him;
"I think 2005 really brought pride back to the school and the football program” said Centore.
From that point forward, Centore's Thunderbolts were perennial playoff attendees. The culture being built within the program was one of helping the players succeed in life not just in Football. In 2013, East made it to the D1 Super Bowl, but had a losing effort to the Bishop Hendricken Hawks. One of the key players from the 2012-2014 era was Marquem Monroe. Monroe was more than happy to comment on Coach Centore.
"A great coach, cared a lot about us and how we were off the field, teaching us how to put our best foot forward" said Monroe.
Centore's Thunderbolt's continued to be successful with a 2017 "Public School Super Bowl" win. Centore also partnered a successful and esteemed football camp, Rhode Island Football Academy. Centore was an executive board member of the Providence GridIron Club with President Rob Izzi and Cranston West football coach Tom Milewski. Izzi and MIlewski had nothing but kind words of praise for Centore, even as inner city rivals in the yearly Thanksgiving Day game of East versus West.
"I have known Tom Centore for 30 plus years, we coached together and against each other. Tommy's passion for the game is only exceeded by his love for his people. He is prolific in focusing on the betterment of his players, he is a friend and will be missed on the sideline" said Izzi.
Cranston West head football coach Tom Milewski had this to say about Centore, "Coaching against Tom Centore for the past 19 years and in some historic Thanksgiving Day rivalries, will never be forgotten. We always talk to the players about the incredible bonds football brings and this is one of them. When I was appointed the head coaching position at Cranston West I always knew I could call Tom for advice and help. I sincerely wish him the best."
Coach Centore has held on for a few years and been battling with himself on when it was time for him to step away. In 2018 Tony Centore passed away and it was a huge blow to Coach Centore and the whole football community. Centore said it was never the same for him after his father passed. Coaching along side him for 30 plus years, the family, the advice and always knowing he had him in his corner, was such a huge piece of what drove Centore. His father was in the Cranston East school system and showed Tom how to treat his players and what was most important in life. Football was amazing, but turning boys into young men and good citizens was the ultimate goal.
After the loss of his Father things changed for Centore. Centore stuck it out and said the support from friends, family and community was incredible. He thanks everyone for everything they have done for him. One of those gentleman is Cranson Athletic Director, Mike Trafficante. Trafficante has been around Cranston for almost equally as long and is a respected memeber of the scholastic and athletic community in the state of Rhode Island.
"I just hope Coach Centore clearly understands the profound impact he has had on so many young men in our community. Along with the friendships made, the everlasting memories they all have and the many life lessons he taught all of them, I wish him well" said Trafficante.
One final note, I would personally like to say something about Coach Tom Centore. I have been working hard for five years to build my business and represent Rhode Island High School sports in the best way possible. One of the first people to work with me was Tommy Centore. Tom's kind heart, soft spoken way and genuine caring for everyone and everything around him was obvious. I want to thank him for always answering my calls and being cordial even if he was busy. Personally, I know how your life can change when you lose a parent or someone influential in your life. It is a defining moment for anyone, especially Tommy. I hope he finds his next chapter of success and that I can repay him with the kindness he has shown me At every interaction. A salute to you Tom Centore and best of luck in all your future endeavors.
”I always want everyone to be happier than me, then I’m happy” - Coach Tom Centore