Jim Powell, a life from sidelines to between the lines, never backed down

My biography runs deeper than yours
November 12, 2021

Between the lines - Jim Powell passed Oct. 31 at the age of 87. Jim was a former football coach and athletic director at Caesar Rodney, a founding member of Slam Dunk to the Beach along with Bobby Jacobs, and, most recently, a basketball official and baseball umpire. Jim was 85 and still refereeing. Basketball is a tough place to put yourself because fans often get personal, and they will pick out some physical attribute and just wear you out. But I never remember Jim being a target since turning 80; he just looked like Jim Powell or coach Powell. He had a way of shuffling like a long-distance runner to lessen impact. It was impressive. Jim told me (and others) the story of how in 1971 as head coach of Caesar Rodney football, a few school board members didn’t like how he used a squib kick on kickoffs. He was ordered to “kick the ball off like everyone else.” The word got out in Delaware, the smallest state and biggest neighborhood, and next Friday night at Sussex Central, the Golden Knights won the toss and elected to kick off. “We laid the ball down and used the squib kick,” coach Bob Cuthrell said last week from the sidelines of a field hockey game while watching his granddaughters play. The old-school guys found strength in the coaching fraternity. The basketball and baseball officials are a tight group as well. Jim Powell was just such a good guy, and if he missed a call, he never lost any sleep over it.   

Embellish the biography - Ramp up the resume with all degrees and letters under your name in the body of your email. Embellish rhymes with relish on the hot dog. I once wrote a resume for myself that was so impressive that after editing, my wife Susan, smarter than me, asked for my autograph. “Quite impressive,'' she said in understatement. And I followed, “It's a joke, and if I let it stand, I’m afraid I’ll get this job I’ve applied for that I really don’t want anyway.” “Yes, director of transportation and buildings and grounds, are you sure that’s what you want?” she said. “No, I’m sure that's what I don't want. In a weird way, I enjoy official rejections by committees.” 

But seriously - Nov. 11 was National Signing Day for all sports except football. They need more time to sneak athletes past admissions. I’ve read a dozen coaching biographies over 24 hours, each one about 1,000 words. It’s like the coach is given credit for the team record, but also every team member who made all-conference or earned any award during the coach's tenure. I have a freakish memory when it comes to sports histories, but I wouldn’t take credit for one athlete while leaving out others. I’m just honored when some athlete from back in the day still calls me Coach Fred. 

Fantasy trade - If you are an Eagles fan, would you trade straight-up Jalen Hurts and Nick Sirianni for Aaron Rodgers and Jon Gruden? Gruden made his bones on delivery of language, but in uncovered private emails, he made homophobic and misogynistic remarks, and had jokes that could be construed as racist in nature. Gruden said of Roger Goodell, “He needs to hide in his concussion protocol tent.” A point of fact: neither Rodgers nor Gruden broke any laws. I’d like to know what Rodgers' teammates and Gruden's players think of them. Personally, I don’t think much about either one of them, but the stories of both intersect in weird ways.   

Snippets - West Chester will host Adelphi Saturday, Nov. 13, in the quarterfinal round of the NCAA field hockey tournament. Top-seeded Shippensburg receives a bye. The semifinals and finals will be played at Millersville. The University of Delaware beat Fairfield 4-3 in overtime in the NCAA Division I field hockey tournament and will play at No. 1 Rutgers Friday, Nov. 12. Delaware won the NCAA title in 2016 with Maggie Delp and Jacki Coveleski. Northwestern with Alia Marshall will play North Carolina at 3:30 p.m., Nov. 12. There are 26 teams to begin the Division III field hockey tournament. Local interests are Salisbury, Christopher Newport and Lynchburg. Salisbury beat Lynchburg 3-2, while Centre beat Christopher Newport 2-1 in double overtime. Kayla Brady (Sussex Tech) had 13 saves for Lynchburg. Marcella Sabbagh (Cape) scored on a penalty stroke for the Captains of Christopher Newport with three minutes left in regulation, sending the game into overtime. Remember, athletes, the game is not played in the weight room, but games and practice time are missed in the training room. Lift like an Uber driver. Go on now, git! 


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