NEWPORT – “Once a Viking, always a Viking.”
That’s what Rogers High School‘s new athletic director Josie Chaves said in a text message Friday afternoon.
Jim Cawley, the school’s DA for 12 years, left the post on June 25 to take up the post of physical education and health teacher at Thompson Middle School.
“It wasn’t a planned decision – it was a quick decision,” Cawley said. “I thought it was done the right way. If you don’t do it quickly, you can talk to each other over and over again. It was time to change.
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“The work deserves some dedication. It didn’t allow me to do things that I wanted to do on a daily basis. My family made a lot of sacrifices throughout planning my schedule.
“Everything I did was for children. It’s just another way for me to come out and for someone else to step in. I think not being at Rogers will help Josie. I know she will do a good job. I’m happy for her.
Chaves applied for the job and then accepted the job on Monday. She was recently appointed to this post and will officially start on Wednesday.
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“I am definitely overwhelmed. Nervous, but excited, ”Chaves said in a telephone interview. “I know there are big shoes to fill. Mr. Cawley did a great job. He has always had the best interests of children in mind. I have known him for a very long time. He’s a great person.
“I am truly grateful for the opportunity and excited for the trip. I know I have a lot to learn. “
Chaves, who resigned her teaching position in the Chariho regional school system to take the new position, graduated from Rogers in 2014 when she led the undefeated women’s basketball team to a championship of division II.
“I was born and raised in Newport. I went to Newport Public Schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12, ”said Chaves. “I taught at Pell School. I did internship hours for physical education and health and participated in basketball at Thompson Middle School.
“I have a love for the community. The end goal was always to be there. I have a passion for children and for the community.
Cawley too. And although he will have more time to spend with his family, he will leave with fond memories of his dozen years at Rogers.
“It definitely changed me for the better,” Cawley said. “It helped me grow a bit. I appreciate what I see about my own family and all the children much more. It’s not so much the championships that I remember, it’s the little things. Just a smile is more of an immediate reaction.
“Something else, like the time I found the money (in the budget) for the track team so they could spend the night in a hotel in Boston. Later the coach told me that the kids all use the pool and some of them don’t even know how to swim. And for some of them, it was the first time they had stayed in a hotel. This stuff warms your heart.
Chaves will become only the second female athletic director at Rogers. Cindy Cykert held the position for a year after John Dias left. John Heino held the post for six years after Cykert and handed the reins over to Cawley.
“I just finished working with an all-girls group at Viking Hoops Basketball Camp,” said Chaves. “It’s empowering women. I hope I will be a role model for the girls at Rogers High School and for the girls in the community.
Chaves, who wants to continue as an assistant coach for the Rogers women’s basketball team, knows Newport is a diverse community and wants to “get to know student-athletes as people.”
Chaves is expected to receive a lot of help in her freshman year as she takes the helm of a sporting program steeped in history.
“So many people have reached out. It’s a great support system, ”said Chaves. “Rogers athletes are extremely proud of their program. My goal is to continue to see the pride endure and for the program to continue in the right direction. “