Blanchard takes over as Clippers’ AD

Blanchard takes over as Clippers’ AD

After spending seven-plus years at RIC, new athletic director begins job Monday

CUMBERLAND – When the winter high school season officially gets underway at Cumberland High next Monday, so will the tenure of the Clippers’ new athletic director.

Eric Blanchard, who has spent the past seven-plus years as the assistant to the athletic director at Rhode Island College, will venture to the high school ranks and vacate the AD’s office on the top floor of the Wellness Center, and he’s ecstatic to begin his new opportunity.

“Cumberland is a great sports town that has received a lot of support from the community,” said Blanchard last Friday morning. “What’s been most exciting for me are the success of the town’s (athletic programs) in the past and the chance to work with the great coaching staff they have.”

If the news of someone departing RIC’s athletic staff to accept a job as a high school AD sounds familiar, it should. Two years ago, Cumberland native Greg O’Connor, who had spent 4½ years as RIC’s assistant athletic director for development and marketing, became Lincoln High’s AD.

Blanchard had worked with O’Connor “for three or four years” under RIC athletic director Don Tencher and became good friends and colleagues with him, and Blanchard said that he’s already asked O’Connor to assist him with his transition to his new role.

“Greg’s volunteered to help out wherever he can,” said Blanchard. “He told me he’d be happy to have me over at Lincoln and show me some of the behind-the-scenes things in terms of working with the Interscholastic League and getting up and running on their system and the software that they use in terms of schedule and that sort of stuff.”

Another person that Blanchard plans to seek for help is the man he’s replacing, Matt Campanelli, who after four-plus years at CHS, stepped down as the AD at the start of the month to begin his new gig as the general manager of Mount Saint Charles Academy’s Adelard Arena.

“I haven’t personally talked to Matt yet, but I plan to,” Blanchard said. “And from what I know, he’s definitely willing to help out wherever he can as well. He did a great job at Cumberland and I know he’s an alum, so I’m also looking forward to working with him through the transition.”

A Warwick native who attended Pilgrim High, the 30-year-old Blanchard has spent more than a third of his life on RIC’s campus. He graduated from there in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education major (with a concentration in math) and spent four seasons as a reliever for the baseball team.

Blanchard, who also holds a master’s degree in sports administration from Concordia University-Irvine, stayed at RIC after receiving his bachelor’s degree and worked closely with Tencher, and he noted that his experience with him has been valuable.

“Don’s taught me a lot,” offered Blanchard, who was the recipient of the Transitioning Athletic Administrator Award from the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators in 2017. “I spent a lot of time by his side, day by day, overseeing everything from compliance to facilities, equipment ordering, and scheduling.”

Blanchard’s final day at RIC will be Friday, but before then, he’s stopped by CHS a handful of times to “walk around the place” and meet with Principal Adolfo Costa and some of the coaches and teachers.

“I’m looking to continue to build on the culture that they have created,” he added. “Ultimately, I think it comes down to bettering the experience for the students, whether that means the student-athlete or just the general student, I’m looking to help kind of continue to build a community that gives a student and a student-athlete a great experience.”