The awards are handed out every year, but it’s hard to remember a year when the winners were so deserving and the selections so obvious.
The Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association held its annual awards presentation on Monday at a luncheon at the new Sheraton-Wilmington South Hotel near New Castle and the winners were (drumroll, please…):
Tubby Raymond Award for Coach of the Year: PJ Kesmodel, the lacrosse coach at Cape Henlopen High.
Team of the Year Award: Middletown High football.
Herm Reitzes Award for Contributions to Delaware Athletics: Harold Hoagland, the late sports writer for the New Castle Press.
John. J. Brady Award for Delaware Athlete of the Year: Elena Delle Donne, the University of Delaware All-American basketball player.
Certainly, the selection of Delle Donne as athlete of the year was no surprise as she became just the third athlete to win the award three times – the others were the late Chris Short, the Phillies pitcher from Lewes High, and Randy White, the Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle from McKean High.
Delle Donne did something last year that has never been done before by a Blue Hens athlete and, we’re willing to bet, something that will never be done again. She led the entire nation in scoring and was a first-team All-American (and we’re not talking about some small college award – this was the best of the best. ‘Nuff said).
But you probably don’t know as much about the other award winners, and we’ll start with Kesmodel. He came to Sussex County several years ago after a successful career as a coach in Maryland, where he won a state championship. He eventually took over the Cape Henlopen program and to say that it turned it around would be an understatement. The sport of lacrosse had always been dominated by teams from the Independent Conference, notably St. Andrew’s, but Kesmodel’s team has now won four straight state championships and the Vikings have usually won them in dominating fashion.
But perhaps no team in Delaware history dominated its sport like the Middletown High football team did in 2012. Middletown has had great teams before, of course, but nothing like this – the Cavaliers went 12-0 and won their games by an average of more than 30 points per game. That’s right – they won by more than 30 points per game in a sport where most teams don’t even score 30.
Another sign that coach Mark DelPercio’s team was one for the ages. There was another good team in the state last year and traditional power Salesianum only lost two games all season – both to Middletown, by a combined score of 62-0, including 27-0 in the state championship game.
Last, but certainly not least, is Harold Hoagland. The Reitzes Award has always been my favorite because it recognizes people who work behind the scenes, people who, like Harold Hoagland, do what they do simply because they love sports and all the good things they represent.
There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Harold Hoagland, unless you’re from the New Castle area. And if you are from the New Castle area you know that Harold – who died in December at age 86 — is an icon in that town. He graduated from William Penn High in 1945 and, starting in the 1950s, began to write about and promote Colonial athletics. Harold was also a fine coach for many years and few people have had the impact on as many young lives as Harold Hoagland did in his long, long career.
And that brings us to another award, one that will be handed out by the DSBA starting in 2013 – the Buddy Hurlock Award. It’s being named after the late News Journal sportswriter who died last summer of a brain tumor at the age of 40. Buddy is one of the few people who could rival Harold Hoagland when it came to love of high school sports and Buddy especially enjoyed telling his readers about athletes who had to overcome adversity to excel in their sports or sometimes just to compete in their sports.
That’s why next year the DSBA will be proud to present the Buddy Hurlock Unsung Hero Award to some deserving athlete, and that presentation will almost certainly be the star of the show.
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org.