From the sports editor: Charles taking brief timeout from retirement to help DIAA

DOVER — First things first.

Kevin Charles is not coming out of retirement.

“I am permanently retired,” he said the other day.

Of course, as Charles said that, he was sitting behind his old desk in the executive director’s office of the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Kevin Charles

But, no, Charles is only there on a temporary basis. The 65-year-old Kent County resident only returned to the DIAA last month — and technically he’s just there as a consultant.

Charles, who was executive director from 2005-16, was asked to help out after newly-hired executive director Gary Cimaglia left the job for another opportunity in October.

With the state Board of Education in the process of finding Cimaglia’s permanent successor, Charles is helping keep the organization running. The DIAA’s only current full-time employees are Donna Polk, coordinator of interscholastic athletics, and executive secretary Amoscita Rodriguez.

“I’m eager to go back to the retired world,” said Charles, who lives in Rising Sun. “But, at the same time, this is not a one-person office. You’ve got to have at least two. It’s really more like a three- or four-person office but we’ve always been able to make it work.

“For the benefit of the member schools, and the students and Donna, I do have some experience and, wherever I can help out, I’m happy to do it.”

Charles is one of only a handful of people who have held the executive director’s job.

He was followed by Cimagalia and Tommie Neubauer and preceeded by only Jack Holloway, Bob Depew and the late Dale Farmer. It wasn’t unusual for any of those men to call each other for advice.

“There’s a very small fraternity of people who have been in the position,” said Charles, who had remained active on DIAA’s Unified sports and golf committees.

“Those are the people who know what it’s like. As a member of that, you want to be available to the people who follow you in those positions.”

Now Charles is part of another small group — people who get to retire but who then get to experience being back in their old job for a while.

“The reception has been quite humbling,” said Charles. “People have been very appreciative of the fact that I came back and have been stating so. Certainly that’s greatly appreciated.

“In terms of stepping back into the position and picking up the duties, it’s sort of like riding a bike — although I will tell you, when you retire, there’s a mental exhale. Because when you’re working, you never stop thinking about what it is you have to do — what I’ve got to do tomorrow, what I’ve got to do next week.

“It’s what you wake up thinking about, it’s what you go to sleep thinking about. So when all that went away, it was like, ‘Whew.’ So my brain began to operate at the retired pace — which is a little different. I had to kick it back into high gear. Everybody here’s been great and helpful and patient.”

And the retirement world will be there waiting when he gets back.

Polytech mulling future

Polytech High continues to consider its options for the future conference affiliation of its athletic programs.

The Woodside school announced this fall that it intends to leave the Henlopen Conference in all sports following the 2020-21 school year.

That announcement came after the Panthers forfeited their final two football games this season, citing a shortage of players and player safety issues.

“While this was a difficult decision to make, the board believes that exiting the Henlopen North Athletic Conference and exploring a different approach is in the best interests of our students and families,” W. Duane Hammond, president of Polytech’s Board of Education, was quoted in a Nov. 12 press release.

“Our priority as a board is protecting the overall health and safety of our student athletes, while also providing long-term sustainability across all extracurricular programs. This decision is an important step toward that goal.”

Polytech’s director of operations, Nicholas Johnson, attended the Henlopen Conference’s monthly athletic director meeting on Monday with some questions for the group.

Of course, if Polytech wants to be in a conference, there are currently only four full-fledged high school leagues in the state. And, of those four, only the Henlopen and Diamond State Conference would seem to be viable options for a Kent County school.

Polytech previously left the Henlopen in football only, playing as an independent for six seasons in the 2000s.

With Delaware schools in the first of a two-year scheduling cycle, the Panthers already have their 10-game football slate set for next fall. Besides its seven-game Henlopen North schedule, Polytech is slated to play Henlopen South members Lake Forest, Indian River and Laurel again.

Odds & ends

• Wednesday is the early college signing for high school football seniors. Smyrna High linebacker Debo Williams, the state Defensive Player of the Year, will announce his decision at a 3:30 p.m. press conference at the school.

Williams reportedly has a number of offers to consider, including ones from Delaware, Delaware State and UMass.

• Former Dover High assistant coach Colin Thomas helped lead Peoria Liberty High to the Class 6A football state title in Arizona recently. Thomas is in his fifth season as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the Lions, who upset top-seeded Mesa Red Mountain, 34-28, in OT in the state finals.

• Wesley College always hoped it could be the team to stop Mount Union’s remarkable NCAA Division III football playoff run. But North Central, Ill. earned the honor this year, topping the Purple Raiders, 59-52, to make it the first time since 1994 that Mount Union failed to advance past the second round.

• The Maxwell Club recently announced its Delaware winners of the Mini Max Award. The award winners are chosen by their coaches based on football performance, academics, and community service.

The downstate winners are Emmanuel Kennedy (Caesar Rodney), Jonathan Rodriguez (Cape Henlopen), Zach Covington (Delmar), Tkai Perry (Dover), Jalen Adger-Thomas (First State Military), T.J. Moore (Indian River), Kristopher Thompson (Lake Forest), Quadyr Whitney (Laurel), Jabraih Luke (Milford), Dylan Stubbs (Polytech), Timothy Kilgore III (Seaford), Darryl Williams (Smyrna), Domonique Smith (Sussex Central), Jordan Harper (Sussex Tech) and Joshua Harrison-Williams (Woodbridge).

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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