Donte DiVincenzo led Salesianum to back-to-back high school basketball titles (photo courtesy Bud Keegan Photography)
The Salesianum sports banquet is a significant annual rite of spring for the Catholic boys school with an impressive athletic pedigree.
Senior athletes (142 this year) donning trademark white tuxedos jackets are feted, in a gymnasium packed with hundreds of family members, alumni and school boosters. This year’s event, planned for tomorrow night, would been the gala’s 72nd year.
Of course like all other major live gatherings, the sports banquet won’t happen as originally planned. However, what is planned might very well draw an even larger crowd: Thursday night, May 7 at 8:00 pm, the school will broadcast a virtual event, open to the public, and featuring some of the most successful athletes to come out of the Wilmington school at 18th and Broom in the last decade.
The roster of guest speakers is well known to anyone who has an interest in Delaware high school sports, beginning with Donte DiVincenzo `15, who led the school to back-to-back state basketball championships and now plays with the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. DiVincenzo famously put the Villanova basketball team on his back in 2018 to win the national championship. DiVincenzo is the official “guest speaker” but he’ll be joined by other notable Sallies stars including Troy Reeder `14, currently with the NFL’s LA Rams and Brian O’Neill ’14, who stars with the Minnesota Vikings.
Brian O’Neill starred in both football and basketball at Salesianum (photo courtesy Bud Keegan Photography)
Ryan Kern ’15, currently the starting US Naval Academy lacrosse goalie, Ben Lungaard ’14, USL Soccer’s Atlanta United and Andrew Hally ’16, a University of Pennsylvania Student Athlete (Track & Field) will round out the alumni athletes sharing messages with the seniors.
The program – sharing a nice characteristic with many other virtual events these days – will clock in at a tidy one hour in length.
Salesianum principal Father Chris Beretta said the disappointment of not being able to gather in person didn’t last long as the school quickly pivoted to devise a way to “celebrate this really phenomenal group of seniors and to recognize they have been part of something special and they always will be.”
“We aren’t going to let this year define us by what we can’t do or aren’t able to do,” said Beretta, invoking “Salesian optimism.”
“This will actually be an opportunity for grandparents who live far away … relatives, friends and alumni who want to tune in and be a part of this. The speakers could never have come together like this in one place and that’s exciting.”
Beretta said the decision to make the event open to the public was informed by the positive response the school has had to broadcasting Sunday mass during the quarantine. “Anyone who wants to be there can be there.”