Sussex nicknames require explanation of the derivation

April 8, 2022

Bullet Train - Keishawn Mansfield brought home the bacon Tuesday on the Legends Stadium track, anchoring the 4-by-100 relay team to a first-place finish in 44.7. “He reminds you of Bullet, his dad Kyle,” said Krystal Woodyard, who was standing nearby. His Uncle Greg also ran Cape track, and grandfather Greg, former LPD, played football for the Florida A&M Rattlers. Keishawn also placed second in the high jump at 6-feet, the long jump at 19-8 and the 110 high hurdles in 17.3. Keishawn left a promising career as a lacrosse midfielder to try track for the first time. He is a quarterback and defensive back in football. Kyle Mansfield earned his nickname “Bullet” because he was fast. A generation earlier, 1978, there was the “Belltown Bullet,” a nickname derived from the shape of his head; this guy was rumored to be the fastest person in the building, but he didn’t like organized sports. I got the BB out to the track during the school day for a 100-meter match race against my best sprinters. Cape was 6-0 at the time and would go on to win the state championship. I offered $10 cash to the winner. The atmosphere was like the Penn Relays, from fans in the stands to Cape tracksters using blocks and wearing fancy spikes. Bullet stood there in an unlettered white T-shirt, long black pants and high-top maypops from the Ames bargain bin. Bullet fired from the chamber of lane three and he was gone. My team just got a lot better. I had learned: Never stop recruiting your own building. But Bullet took his $10 and said, “I’m not coming out for your team. You guys are undefeated and if you lose, you’ll blame it on me.” And, yes, I remember the young man’s name, but I’m not giving it up because whatever he’s been doing I don't want anyone blaming it on me.

Spring football - It is April and Cape Henlopen High School still doesn’t have a head football coach, but a second round of interviews is underway. I know some stuff – we all do – but no one on the inside is talking to me, and I respect that. I don’t want any information with the stipulation, “You can’t tell anyone. Keep this under your size 8 hat.” I always say there is more interest in who will be the coach than who is the coach once the practice season starts and the hard work begins. All head coaching positions are challenging, but football is the most daunting because of the number and types of athletes required, all the moving parts with assistants known as coordinators, and it's a collision sport in the era of endless concussion discussions.      

Bo Tkach Foundation - “Under every helmet and hat is a child who needs us.” And that goes for the total roster in sports without helmets and hats. Coach Dawn Staley took to the courtside microphone following South Carolina’s national championship win over Connecticut and thanked the players who did not get into the game and the players who did not appear in the tournament. She thanked them for getting the team to the moment, for their work ethic in practice, and let them know that none of it happens without them. And then the Dobbins High School graduate from the badlands of North Philly called out the first names of each of them. I once listened to soccer coach Gary Montalto address the players who didn’t get into the game after a win on a cold, dark night at Sussex Central. It’s a coach trait that most don’t have, and it runs the continuum from tee ball to pro ball. Say it ain’t so, yo, but you would be wrong.  

Snippets - The Boston Marathon has banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from running in the event. Perhaps the next step is to arrest NHL hockey star Alex Ovechkin and trade him straight up to the Russians for Brittney Griner. I’ll be emceeing the Cape state championship banquet Sunday morning at Baywood Greens, another opportunity for spontaneous senility. Can you hear me now? Can I hear me now? Cape hockey had won 100 games in a row against Delaware opponents before losing at Tower Hill in the DIAA quarterfinals 2-1 in November 2016. Don’t let the sun catch you crying, but my camera caught a few faces. The first game the next season Nov. 13, Cape lost at Dover 2-1, giving the Vikings the only two-game losing streak in field hockey history. This is a cautionary tale for the girls’ lacrosse team that plays at unbeaten Dover Friday. You can get got. You don’t want Senators parents to party like it’s 1999 at the grand opening of Sam’s Club. Go on now, git!

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