Ocean Tides Students Learn Coach Ed Cooley’s Struggles and Sacrifices to Reach His Goals Growing Up.
Providence College Men’s Head Basketball Coach Ed Cooley came to Narragansett, RI to speak to the students of Ocean Tides School on Oct. 29. He shared with the boys the challenges and obstacles he faced growing up poor and black in South Providence, RI and how he overcame them to become the Head Coach of the P.C. Friars, the team he had dreamed about playing for as a child.
Coach Cooley described his difficult childhood as one of nine children and not knowing his biological father until later in life. There was never enough food, money, or emotional support to go around. He told them that his path out of that life was a series of difficult choices. He frequently had to go a different way than family and friends as well as well as make connections with caring adults that impacted his life. He was able to make these choices because he believed that he was special and he wanted all of the boys in the room to know that he thought they were special too.
The Coach went on to describe how it wasn’t easy to accomplish what he did and it took significant amounts of self-determination and self-confidence. He detailed how he needed to attend prep school after graduating from Central High School in Providence because he wasn’t prepared for college class work even though he had a scholarship offer at Stonehill College. He was originally rejected by the prep school because he couldn’t afford the tuition. He decided not to take no for an answer and demanded to speak to the admissions officer’s boss and offered to work different jobs at the school, washing dishes, landscaping, etc. to earn his tuition and the school agreed.
Coach Cooley told the students about his experiences working as a school teacher before deciding to take a significant pay cut to take a job as an assistant coach with the University of Rhode Island Rams. He discussed how this decision impacted his family and stressed the importance of family in his life. He talked about how important personal relationships have been to his career. He told them not to be afraid to fail but to learn from it and try again and again and not give up.
There was a specific emphasis in his talk to the boys about his personal “ethos” and the one that he uses with his team “Loyalty, Trust, and Accountability.” Throughout his talk he engaged with the boys asking their names and asking for their participation, taking questions and encouraging them. The talk was well received by the students and faculty.