May 2, 2016


11 Honored by Rhode Island's Speaker of the House
and House of Representatives

Providence, R.I.-Ten current Rhode Island College student-athletes and one alumna were recognized by the honorable, Nicholas A. Mattiello, Speaker of the House, and the Rhode Island House of Representatives at a reception held in the House Chamber at the Rhode Island State House on Monday afternoon.


The event was designed to give significant public recognition to men and women from the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island who have had significant achievements in their academic and athletic pursuits at their respective institutions. The honorees have also demonstrated exemplary citizenship and community service.


The 10 Scholar-Athletes from Rhode Island College were: Freshman Melanie Brunelle (Warwick, RI) women’s track & field; Senior Jonathan Cooper (Berkley, MA) men’s golf; Senior Edward Cummins (Lincoln, RI) men’s track & field; Sophomore Sydney Curran (North Kingstown, RI) women’s swimming; Senior Kelsey Lace (Glendale, RI) women’s volleyball; Senior Cherise Lee (Burlington, NJ) women’s gymnastics; Senior Dylan Pingitore (Johnston, RI) baseball; Senior Joseph Plude (East Haddam, CT); Sophomore Dayna Reilly (Swansea, MA) women’s tennis; Senior Autumn Wosencroft (Newport, RI) women’s track & field. 




Athletic Alumni from each school were also honored. Elizabeth Penkala ’79 was RIC’s Athletic Alumna Award recipient.


She is a 1975 graduate of Warren High School where she excelled in tennis, was a two-time All-State track & field honoree, and a basketball point guard.


She is a 1979 graduate of Rhode Island College where she was an outstanding softball player during her career as an Anchorwoman. She starred as a third baseman and pitcher from 1976-79.


As a junior in 1978, she was named to the All-RIAIAW Tournament Team and posted a .326 batting average for the season. As a senior in 1979, she was an alternate selection to the All-RIAIAW Tournament Team and was named the Most Valuable Player of the RIC softball team. That season, she led the team with a .451 batting average and a 3.23 earned run average.


After graduation, Penkala taught math in the Warwick School Department from 1979-82 and also was an Assistant Softball Coach at RIC in 1980 and 1981. She moved on to the Bristol/Warren School Department where she taught math from 1982 until her retirement in 2009.  She coached basketball, softball, and tennis for 28 years of her teaching career, then moved into the position of Athletic Administrator where she served for six years until her second retirement in 2012.


She was the Rhode Island Interscholastic League’s Fast-Pitch Softball Director from 1985-89; Tennis Co-Director from 1995-2015, Competition Cheerleading Director from 2012-2016; Gymnastics Co-Director and Softball Co-Director 2012-15.


She also had a distinguished coaching career, serving as the Head Softball Coach at Warren High School from 1984-93, Head Basketball Coach at Mt. Hope High School 1993-1994 and Head Girls’ Tennis Coach at Mt. Hope High School from 1995-2005.


She was inducted into the town of Warren’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1999, the Rhode Island College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001, the Rhode Island Interscholastic Girls’ Tennis Coaches Hall of Fame in 2006 and was selected to the 2005 Rhode Island College 75th Anniversary Softball Team.


Penkala is currently the Rhode Island Interscholastic Athletic Administrators’ Association’s Executive Director and Treasurer.  She is a Certified Athletic Administrator and an Accredited Interscholastic Coach.


While serving as the Athletic Administrator at Mt. Hope High School in Bristol, R.I., she led the school to earn the 2009 RIIAAA School of the Year Award. She is recipient of the 2011 RIIAAA Athletic Director of the Year Award, recipient of the 2012 National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association State Award of Merit, and is serving a five-year term on the NIAAA Hall of Fame Committee (2015-2020).  She also serves on the RI Interscholastic Injury Fund Committee.


In her spare time, Elizabeth is active with her church – St. Mary of the Bay, Warren where she is a member of the women’s guild, is co-chair of the churches annual Clam Bake fundraiser and is a lectionary for week day and weekend masses.