Bud Hitchens hangs up his sports hat

Sarah Hudson Layfield was the center of the Sussex Central solar system
July 14, 2023

Stare and glare - Back in 1976-77, new Cape teachers with basketball backgrounds, Dave Frederick and Charlie Hickox, decided to officiate basketball, moving from the Rehoboth adult women’s league to junior high. I remember calling a foul on Lily Mapp, who went stare and stern, telling me, “I didn’t foul her.” I responded, “If that’s the way you feel about it, fine.” Coach Bud Hitchens on the Milton Junior High bench never said much that was audible, but the subtle changes in his facial expressions let you know he thought you were an idiot, which was a level below moron on the Stanford Binet Intelligence Quotient. Bud has never taken a break from local sports since his point guard days at Milton High School, where he knew if he got the ball down low to Bill Cordrey, he was not getting it back. I received this email from coach Hitchens earlier in the week: “I am sending this email to inform you that effective immediately I am stepping down as [Henlopen Conference] executive secretary. I have enjoyed my 18 years in this position, but due to recent medical problems, I do not feel I should continue. Thank you for all your support over the years and your dedication to the Henlopen Conference and its athletes.” Bud was Cape athletic director from 1996 to 2005. He served on the board of governors of the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame 2005-23. A Delaware Secondary School Athletic Association member for 20 years, Bud was Cape head basketball coach 1982-88 with a record of 106-51. He was head soccer coach in 1977 and finished with a 10-3-4 record. And not many know he’s a cartoonist if inspired by a teacher inservice day, and he’s clever and funny. If Bud is not Legends Stadium material, then someone should hit the reverse on the cordless pneumatic drill and get me off the wall. Bud is strong, not in failing health and can work all day in the yard like a paver with a purpose. It’s just that the athletic administrator and sports management stuff will wear your behind out.

The Dance - Thirty years ago I was invited to the Sussex Central football banquet. I had written a column on the passing of coach Al Booth that touched the team, and so there I was at the head table. I will never forget the slideshow of Central football and Derrick Layfield singing “The Dance.” I have no idea how anyone held it together, because I know I didn’t. Cape and Central were fierce rivals. I called it “inside the belly of the beast” where I learned your rivals are a mirror reflection of you, a window into your own soul. The passing of Sarah Layfield Hudson from ALS last week wasn’t crushingly sad because she was so good, so awesome, so positive and such an inspirational force. She deserves our good feelings as her legacy. My wife Susan was writing sports back when Sarah was in high school. “I certainly remember covering her,” Susan said. “She was fiercely tough.” The ripples from The Circle in Georgetown to Cupola Park in Millsboro connect lots of families, from Hudsons and Layfields to Cannons, Bakers, Booths and Thompsons – lots of coaches, athletes, teachers and straight-up characters. They are good, hard and tough people. In the competitive arena, they will give you a hard way to go, will never back down, yet that crew will see you, and assess your character and worthiness. I have always said, Central makes no excuses for rocking its culture. You play them in anything, you’re going to get a good dose of what they are all about. Embrace it, wrestle with it, tussle with the traditions and hope for the best. And if you’re smart, you will make friends because they are all a forever friends class of people. I think of Sarah Hudson Layfield as the sun in the center of the solar system that is Sussex Central culture: a good person with good people in her orbit.

Hello Zack! Zack Gelof, playing Triple-A for the Oakland A's affiliate, the Las Vegas Aviators, got the call July 12 that he will be joining the major league team Friday, July 14, as they open a weekend home series with the Minnesota Twins. Oakland is currently sitting at the bottom of the American League West with a record of 25-67. “Zack got the call Wednesday afternoon and soon thereafter he called me,” said Ben Evick, Cape's baseball coach. “He’s been tearing it up for the Aviators while playing second base.” I’ve covered Zack since he was in middle school. My personal thoughts are now that he’s called up and given half a season of playing time, there is no way he is going back down. 

Snippets - Football rosters for the 2023 Delaware and Delaware State football teams are now online. Showtime Sports this week debuts “Goliath,” a three-part documentary series examining the life, career and impact of Wilt Chamberlain. Wilt was born in 1936 and died in 1999 from heart failure at the age of 63. Twenty-fifth and Diamond streets was a storied playground – winners stay, losers sit and watch – back when I was a baller in 1965. I lasted long enough one game to have Wilt block my shot, then he told me to go get the ball, which was rolling back toward the Temple campus 11 blocks away. Go on now, git! 


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