Local college notebook: Bottiglieri retiring as Wesley defensive coordinator

Joe Bottiglieri spent the last two football seasons as Wesley’s defensive coordinator. Wesley College sports information

DOVER — Originally, the plan was for him to coach one more season.

That would have put Joe Bottiglieri at an even 50 seasons on the sidelines.

But, of course, nobody planned on the world having to deal with a conronavirus pandemic, either.

So with the sports world up in the air right now, Bottiglieri has decided to step down now as Wesley College’s defensive coordinator.

Head coach Chip Knapp told the Wolverines’ football players the news at a video-conference meeting on Thursday.

At Wesley, Bottiglieri will be remembered as the veteran coach who stepped in two years ago when coach Mike Drass died suddenly. The fact that he was also Drass’ head coach when he played at Mansfield State just made Bottiglieri’s hiring really seem to fit.

“He’s been great for our program — a great transition,” said Knapp. “He was perfect for the job. He was a mentor, not only as an ‘X’s an O’s’ guy but also just a mentor to everyone on how to be a professional and do things the right way.

“He had a lot of impact on our program for the relatively short time he’s been here.”

Bottiglieri’s 49-year coaching career included stops at William & Mary, Rhode Island and Lehigh among others. Despite being five decades older than his players, Knapp said the 70-year-old Bottiglieri still had a great report with them.

“It has been a blast!” Bottiglieri posted on Twitter. “To all the players and coaches who have crossed my path. … thank you for making it an awesome experience!”

Knapp hasn’t interviewed any candidates for the position yet. But, if the Wolverines stay within the current staff, secondary coach Arthur Smith would probably be the most likely candidate.

A former player and assistant coach at Mount Union, Smith is entering his fourth season at Wesley.

Knapp also has to replace veteran offensive assistant Steve Azzanesi, who left in March to become the offensive coordinator at Delaware State. That process, though, has been slowed by the current pandemic shutdown.

Knapp knows that continuing to bring in good coaches is important, especially at the small-college level where coaches might have to do a little bit of everything.

“I guess one of the hallmarks of our program has been the quality coaches that have come through here,” said Knapp, who has been at Wesley for 31 years. “The biggest difference is made by the coaches. For the most part, our coaches are in it for the right reasons — to make an impact on young men that want to play college football.

“The coaches here have more responsibility, I think, than at the higher levels. They wear all these different hats. The involvement we have is unique to our level, I think.”

Hen hoop update

There’s still no word on whether Delaware basketball standout Nate Darling is returning for his senior season.

Originally, the deadline for withdrawing from the NBA Draft was June 3. But with the draft now expected to be held in October, the NCAA extended that deadline indefinitely.

A first-team all-CAA guard in his first season for the Hens, Darling was recently named the University of Delaware Male Athlete of the Year.

Another Blue Hen basketball standout, Justyn Mutts, has reportedly received a great deal of interest after putting his name in the NCAA Transfer Portal last week. Among the schools that contacted the 6-foot-7 forward right away are North Carolina State, Arkansas, Houston, Wake Forest, Virginia Tech, Purdue, DePaul, Vanderbilt, Tulsa, St John’s and Georgia Southern.

Notes

• Milford High grad Bryce Greenly and Delaware baseball teammate Aidan Riley were both named Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-Americans. Greenly, a reliever/outfielder, posted a team-best 0.96 ERA in 9.1 innings with 15 strikeouts while allowing only four hits.

Milford High grad Bryce Greenly emerged as a reliever for Delaware this spring. Delaware sports information

Riley led the Hens with a .389 batting average and ranked second on the team with 12 RBI.

• Delaware State’s women’s basketball team has landed a grad transfer in DaiJe Harris, a 5-foot-9 guard from CalState-Bakersfield. After playing in 27 games as a freshman, Harris appeared in only 20 games over the last three years because of knee injuries.

• Runner Michaela Meyer was named UD’s Female Athlete of the Year. She finished as the school record holder in eight different events (indoor – 500m, 800m, 4×800 and DMR; outdoor – 800m, 4×800, 4×1500 and SMR).

• Greenwood resident Sierra Kane is among three recruits signed by the Delaware State equestrian team. The Hornets also picked up Devyn Looney (New Milford, Conn.) and C.J. Yeary (Concord, N.C.).

Kane captured first place in the Reserve World Champion English Showmanship 14-18 competition. She also was the Novice Horsemanship and Western Pleasure end-of-the-year points leader.

“Sierra is an amazingly accomplished rider from right here in Delaware,” said DSU coach Jen Ridgley.

• The Wesley College volleyball team finished first in NCAA Division III — which includes over 400 schools — in digs with an average of 21.46 per set. The Wolverines’ leaders in digs were Caelli Clifford 503, Lindsay Burg 400, Emily Waldridge 393, Regan Healey 365 and Allison Mills 168.

• The Delaware Afro American Sports Hall of Fame banquet has been postponed until April 17, 2021. It will be held at Dover’s Modern Maturity Center at 6 p.m.