Salesianum brings Broom Street to winter sports

Sallies sweeps swimming, track, wrestling and basketball
March 14, 2023

Broom Street - Salesianum is on Broom Street in Wilmington, just turn right at the liquor store off 202 south, sometimes known as Concord Pike. At the Bob March 11, Sallies defeated the Colonials of William Penn 48-44 in basketball to complete the state championship sweep of boys’ winter sports, having won indoor track, swimming, wrestling and basketball. I was a close observer in wrestling, watching Sallies upset Sussex Central and Cape in the dual-meet state championships. Salesianum has been around since before consolidation downstate (late 1960s) and desegregation upstate (late 1970s). It was on Broom Street before the charter school system kicked into fashion. Boys’ sports teams in Delaware must go through Sallies in pursuit of a state championship, except for those sports that compete in divisions based on enrollment. I wrote a column in 2015 with the headline “145 reasons to hate Salesianum” (the number of the school’s state championships at the time). It was a takeoff of an ESPN 30 for 30 special titled, “I Hate Christian Laettner,” released the same year. Sallies fans statewide skewered me, raising a legitimate question: “Who is this clown?’’ Former Eagle and motivational speaker Kevin Reilly (lost an arm to cancer) spoke at Mariner Middle School after the release of his book “Tackling Life” (2017). My daughter Carrie thought, “I’m getting the book for my dad.” She had Kevin sign it and brought it to me, and there was my name in the opening pages next to a quote, “145 reasons to hate Salesianum.” Kevin, now 71, played for Sallies, then Villanova, graduating in 1973. Salesianum is an all-boys Catholic school with 900 students grades 9 through 12 and tuition listed at $19,500 per year. I think the demographics of roster building for high school sports is a legitimate endeavor to study. I may add that the better programs and schools don’t have to recruit; they recruit themselves. Stud athletes just walk through the front door with their parents. Back in 2013 when the Cape girls’ lacrosse team notched its fifth straight state championship, a player from the boys’ team said to my granddaughter Anna, “Yeah, but you guys don't have to play Sallies.” Anna answered, “We are Sallies!”  

Hey, goalie! Pose up! - Man, oh Manischewitz, I’ve been walking the sidelines a long time. Even Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim is saying, “Pack it up and pack it in, Fredman, before you get bowled over like a jumbo bowling pin at a backyard picnic.” Retired jumbo state cop Danny Sponaugle, who was an undercover buyer during the crack epidemic of the ’80s – they thought he was an outlaw biker – and a fellow Lineman  for Life asked me before his journey into the Lucky Leprechaun 5K Sunday, “You used to do these things, Fredman, and you're looking good. How old are you now?” I answered at the risk of scaring myself, “I’ll be 77 on Tuesday, March 14. I'm just here for the boiled dogs.” Meanwhile, on the sidelines at UMBC last Saturday watching the Mercer Bears lacrosse team (Mikey Fred) battle the Retrievers, a young student photographer got the attention of the UMBC goalie. “Hey goalie, pose up!” And he did. I thought briefly about going tribal elder and telling the dude, “If the head coach finds out you were posing his players up during the game, you’ll all be on the bench.” 

Bavarian Festival 10-Miler - The race used to be held in Barnesville, Pa., on the outskirts of Mahanoy City, my wife's hometown. It started at noon and ran over the mountain. Runners who made it back without collapsing into convulsions got a free stein of beer. I have told my Irish grandchildren in the Dave and Liza family, “When the ball drops, rock German genes.” My other grandchildren from Jack and Suzannah also have Polish genes to summon into action. Sunday’s Lucky Leprechaun 5K started at 11 a.m., attracting 381 runners and 133 walkers, most of whom faded into the parade, which began at 2 p.m. There were wild rovers and doodles all over town, and Milton isn't exactly an Irish enclave. The hardest part for me covering the race was identifying bearded people, especially D.J. Hughes and Mike Jennings, and you don't get any more Irish than those two guys.    

Snippets - The Cape boys’ lacrosse team 2023 edition has a total of 70 players on the varsity and JV rosters. Boys’ track has 99. An elite track team that can compete at the statewide level needs a solid 15 athletes who can score in multiple events or must be stacked in specific events, like Cape in the pole vault and distances. The boys’ lacrosse team has depth of talent all over the field; they just need to find replacements for stud goalie Evan Erhardt, and the 130 goals scored by graduated seniors Hank D’Ambrogi and Mikey Frederick. Franc Cook has left his job as the goalie coach at the University of Jacksonville men's lacrosse team and taken a job with Delaware Tech as an athletic administrator at the Terry Campus. Twenty-five years ago, on Sept. 20, 1998, on the final home game of the regular season, Cal Ripken took himself out of the starting lineup, ending his consecutive game streak at 2,632. Why does that seem like yesterday? Go on now, git! 


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