Pope of Cape sports ain’t no joke

June 6, 2023

Rope-a-Pope - A Cape secretary once gave me a compliment by calling me “the Pope of Cape Henlopen.” I think if I had a Popemobile with a turret for my camera, I’d go to games and just never get out. Anyway, speaking of papacies, after Salesianum lacrosse beat Cape 13-11 for the 2023 state championship, players charged the field throwing helmets onto the turf before dog piling over goalie Cameron Taylor. And then they headed away to the Sallies student side of the fence line. No. 22 Braeden Korb, a junior, began gathering up helmets. I took his photo then was stunned and actually saddened when a group of Cape boys started yelling insults and vulgarities at a young man they knew nothing about. I was going to say something to them, then thought, “They might not know I’m the Pope,” and start in on me. But I didn’t need any biographical background on Braeden Korb to know he’s “just a great kid,” and for my Cape guys, “What is up?” You seized a moment to make us all look bad. 

Cape championship connections - Caravel Academy won the state softball championship June 3 with a win over Indian River. “Root for Randy” was my position on the game because Buccaneers coach Randy Johnson is a Cape kid and quintessential local. When Cape’s softball field was dedicated as Bill Cordrey Field, Randy was there. When I was inducted into the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame, it was Randy who organized a van expedition of 1970s athletes in their 60s. I reflected on Cape athletes who have won state championships as head coaches. There are Jack Lingo, Cape boys’ lacrosse, 2014; John Coveleski, Caesar Rodney boys’ lacrosse, 1996, ‘97, ‘99; Billy Cunningham, Appoquinimink baseball, 2015; Ben Evick, Cape baseball 2018, ‘22; Tim Bamforth, Cape outdoor track 1992 and ‘93, indoor track, 1993; George Pepper, Cape boys’ cross country, 1979 and ‘82, and Cape girls’ outdoor track 2011 and ‘12 (Division I) and 2002, ‘03, ‘04, ‘05 (Division II); Randy Johnson, Caravel softball, 2021, ‘22, ‘23 and six overall since 2010; Robin Adair, Tower Hill field hockey, 10 titles from late 1990s through 2008; Nancy Tribbett, Sussex Tech field hockey, 2009 and ‘10; Dan Cook, girls’ tennis, 1991; and Ruth Skoglund (Rehoboth High grad), Cape field hockey, 1995. 

I’ll be back, I hope - Good fortune in sports can turn on a dime. In a short space of time and distance, you may be heading in the opposite direction. That’s why winning a state championship in any sport is savored with such spontaneous celebration. Cape last won the state championship in girls’ basketball in 1973 and boys’ basketball in 1976. Cape won its only football state title in 1979. This school year 2022-23 saw Cape state titles within grasp slip away in field hockey, wrestling, girls’ lacrosse and boys’ lacrosse. Baseball, a legit contender, lost in the semifinals of the state tournament. “Always look on the bright side of [sports] life” - Monty Python. Boys’ volleyball won the first DIAA state title contested. Let's hope it's not 47 years until they win another. 

Buzz-sawed - “I have no idea what’s going on” is code for “I know exactly what’s going on.” We are moving into full-blown travel ball and competitive camp season for all sports. I looked at a list of colleges that allegedly attended a 2022 weekend lacrosse tournament. The alphabetized list was too deep to count and included every Ivy League college and every major conference in the country. Now that is a lot of lawn chairs. And if your baseball team wins three games by a total of 50 runs, you should have stayed home for long toss practice. And while the sports-centric state of Florida debates appropriate books in school media centers, ask yourself, “When is the last time the athlete who lives and travels to and from my house actually read a book?”  

Snippets - Go to for results and updated brackets of the NCAA college baseball tournament. You need a degree in sports management to follow the regionals through the super regionals to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series June 16-25. The second-ranked Salisbury University baseball team lost to East Texas Baptist 21-7 and were eliminated from  the Division III World Series. Senior Megan Smith was voted Cape’s Female Athlete of the Year. C.J. Fritchman was voted Male Athlete of the Year. The SoDel Cares 5K kicks off at 9 a.m., Saturday, June 10, at Thompson Island Brewing Company outside Rehoboth Beach. Lots of locals, runners on walkers. Correction: runners and walkers. Go on now, git!  


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