Veteran Townie Coach Galligan in RI Wrestling Hall of Fame
In 32 years of working at East Providence High School, Tom Galligan has quietly become a respected veteran coach and teacher. With the exception of Bill McEnery who still coaches although retired from his high school teaching position, Galligan is the senior coach in the Townie athletic department. Galligan is a 1978 graduate of East Providence High School and wrestled and played football for the Townies. After graduating from EP he attended and wrestled at Southern Connecticut State University and later worked as a union carpenter and a bit as a substitute teacher. Although he did well as a construction worker, Galligan thought he would enjoy teaching carpentry skills to students. Especially at his alma mater. “I pursued my teaching degree and became certified to teach construction at the vocational school, now called the Career & Technical Center. I subbed for two years there before getting hired and my former wrestling coach Jim McMahon asked me to be his assistant,” recalls Galligan. The rest is Townie history as Galligan soon became the Townie head wrestling coach and remains so today. He was also hired as the construction teacher about the same time and has developed one of the most popular career programs in Rhode Island. Each year the program is filled, and his students learn construction technology in a state-of-the-art environment.
Galligan mentions the support of his wrestling and teaching mentors. “Coach McMahon and Vinhateiro were very influential to my coaching and teaching career,” said Galligan. Manuel Vinhateiro is a former wrestler and coach and became high school Assistant Principal, Principal and Superintendent of Schools. “They (McMahon and Vinhateiro) were instrumental in me becoming a teacher and coach. I learned a lot from them, for which I will always remember,” added Galligan. “I am fortunate to have witnessed the growth of Tom Galligan from a young student to a very accomplished professional,” said Manuel Vinhateiro when asked about his former student and wrestler. “He was an outstanding student athlete during his years at East Providence High. A good student, he wrestled and played football for the Townies. Tom is a dedicated educator, coach, friend, husband and father.
“Tom is a dedicated educator, coach, friend, husband and father,” said Vinhateiro. “He was an outstanding student athlete during his years at the high school as a wrestler and football player. Fortunately for E.P. a teaching vacancy occurred in the vocational construction program and Tom was hired as a teacher. He immediately became one of the most popular vocational instructors due to his work ethic, dedication to his students and his desire to help anyone anytime. Tom has the longest tenure of any coach in the long and storied wrestling history of E. P. As one of Tom's coaches, Assistant Principals, Principals and Superintendent, I am proud to say that he exemplifies all that is "Townie Pride," added Vinhateiro. “This is a very fitting award.”
Two of Galligan’s former wrestlers are now head coaches in the system. Martin Middle School is coached by Bobby Rodericks and Riverside Middle School is coached by A.J. LaScola. “Our tradition of former wrestlers coming back to help current students is so strong,” said Galligan. “I am very lucky to have maintained these relationships. This year Bobby Good, a former standout wrestler including a prestigious career in college and the Marines, has been a great volunteer assistant at the high school.”
In addition to Vinhateiro and City Council President Bob Rodericks, a large contingent of former Townie wrestlers attended the ceremony for Galligan at the Kirkbrae Country Club on April 27th. Although there were six inductees this year, more than half of the crowd in attendance were there for Galligan. The coach was also mentioned by fellow coaches from other schools as being “supportive of their programs and always willing to help out if needed.” Galligan was taken aback by the large outpouring of support. “I don’t know what to say, I am so humbled at this turnout,” Galligan said to several ovations from the attendees. “I told my family that there probably wouldn’t be a lot of people coming. I truly thank and love you all,” he said in his acceptance remarks. “I love everything about East Providence and what it has meant to me and my family. I couldn’t have been a coach with the tournaments that took us all over the place, without the support of my wife. I love you dearly,” he said with a smile to his wife. At the annual end of season wrestling banquet in East Providence, for Riverside, Martin and the high school teams, Galligan praised the participants. The Galligans now reside in Warwick and the coach’s daughter was at the banquet. “My daughter is here and is amazed at the level of support in EP. “I wish I could be here, this is amazing,” she told her dad. She finally knows what Townie Pride is about. She is in awe of the community support we have,” Galligan told the gathering. “She doesn’t see this anywhere else.”
Galligan was introduced at Kirkbrae by his longtime former assistant coach, Glen Salgueiro. Salgueiro coached for some 22 seasons with Galligan but is now an Assistant Principal at Riverside Middle School. “Tom is the best coach and person I’ve ever met,” said Salgueiro in his introduction of Galligan. “He personifies everything I’ve ever learned about coaching, teaching, family and friendship.”
The large crowd of supporters lingered for a while after the ceremony ended. They shared memories of Townie wrestling which ranged from the 1950’s through to the current day. Rumor has it that a few wrestling matches almost took place among the older and greying alumni. Almost! East Providence’s veteran teacher-coach was humbled and awash in love and respect on this night of much deserved recognition. “I wouldn’t want to teach and coach anywhere else.”
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