When you’re the coach of 115 hockey and tennis teams over 54 years all in Rhode Island, you’re going to build quite a state-wide reputation for yourself.
For Dick Ernst, a native of Cranston who attended Cranston High during the 1950s and who passed away at the age of 78 last year, his legendary reputation goes beyond the court (or rink) in Cranston.
That’s why the city council has put forward an ordinance to rename the Cranston East tennis facility in honor of Dick Ernst.
Mayor Fung pushed for this to be done, because, as he says, “Ernst meant a lot to generations of Cranston kids as a coach, teacher, and good friend.”
Fung has a personal connection to Ernst, having played tennis for him when he was the coach at RIC, one of the many coaching positions Ernst held over the years.
“I played for Dick when he was a coach at RIC and he was much more than just a tennis coach,” Fung said. “I remember him making sure I was doing well in school and in life. Even beyond college Dick always followed what I was doing in Cranston and was always there.”
Ernst’s success as a tennis coach in Rhode Island is unmatched. He coached at both Providence College and Rhode Island College, where he led the team to four men’s and four women’s titles. He also coached tennis at Cranston East, where he won two undefeated state and New England championships.
These accolades, in addition to his impact on thousands of Rhode Island high school and college-aged kids over the years, have resulted in Cranston East’s courts being named for him.
“I wanted generations of tennis players who use those courts to know what he meant to the area,” Fung said. “I asked the council to put this forward to honor someone who meant so much to the city of Cranston.”
Dick Ernst’s name will be forever etched into Cranston East’s tennis program after a lifelong career as a legendary teacher and coach.