Local college sports notebook: Walker had a hand in DSU lax

Hornet softball coach Jeff Franquet expects to have as many as 30 players on the DelState roster next year. Delaware State sports information/Chris Larson

DOVER — If it weren’t for Kimberly Walker, Delaware State might have a field hockey program right now instead of a women’s lacrosse one.

The former DSU athlete recently told DSUHornets.com the story of how she helped push the school toward lacrosse.

Kimberly Walker

In 2010, Walker heard that DelState was trying to decide between adding field hockey or women’s lacrosse. DSU needed to add a women’s program because of Title IX.

A lacrosse player in high school, Walker tried to marshal support for a lax program.

“I went around asking individuals via Twitter, Facebook and peers in other athletic sports if they knew people who had experience in the sport,” Walker was quoted in the interview on the school’s website.

“I was able to provide them with a small list of interested athletes and, next thing I knew, there was an interest meeting on campus.”

Being a player on the Hornets’ first lacrosse squad wasn’t easy. DSU had just enough players to field a team.

That meant everybody on the roster played every minute of every game.

“That experience is literally unexplainable,” Walker was quoted. “We worked so hard. I mean sometimes (we had) three practices a day, from captains’ practice to weightlifting to regular season practice.

“I was in the best shape of my life. However, I believe the hustle of not having any substitute players taught me how to be the ‘go getter’ person I am today.”

Walker is now a licensed mental health therapist,

Wesley presents award

Wesley College has given out this year’s Shirley Wentworth Memorial Award to honor the wife of Jim Wentworth, the Wolverines’ former longtime men’s basketball coach.

The award goes to a female and male athlete who demonstrates outstanding sportsmanship, character, courage and commitment.

This year’s female winner is Brooke Retkowski, a four-year softball team member and team captain this past season. She is also a student ambassador for admissions (coordinator for the past two years), SGA secretary and has assisted the SID and Institutional Advancement office’s by taking photos at different events.

“She is a team player and always places her team’s needs above her own,” said softball coach Juli Greep.

The male winner of the Wentworth Award is cross country/track runner Ian Thorne.

“Thorne cares deeply for his teammates and never hesitated to be their voice,” said cross country coach Jillian Lontz. “His constant positive attitude and encouragement on those long competition days was contagious.”

DSU softball adds three

The Delaware State softball team has signed recruits Sydney Hoffman (Lewisburg, Pa.), Kyla Johnson (Sherman Oaks, Cal.) and Maikyla Nelson (Modesto, Cal.). The additions give the Hornets a signing class of 12.

Coach Jeff Franquet, who is starting his second season at DSU, expects to have 30 players on the roster next season.

“I’m excited about the newcomers to our program, who will join the improved returners to give us a solid foundation for next season,” he said. “The increased numbers mean every day will be competitive with each player having to bring her best effort this fall.

“You earn your spot in the fall, not the spring. I’m looking forward to bringing everyone together for some spirited competition next season.”

DSU, UD athletes make grade

Delaware State’s student-athletes posted a combined grade-point-average of 3.35 (on a 4.0 scale) for the spring 2020 semester and a cumulative mark of 3.22 for the 2019-20 school year.

Each of the Hornets’ 18 athletic programs recorded a team GPA of 3.0 or higher during the spring semester, marking a first-time achievement for a term in recorded department history.

For the year, 17 of DSU’s 18 programs achieved a team GPA of 3.0 or higher. Bowling was tops with a 3.80 grade-point-average.

In addition, 71 of Delaware State’s more than 360 student-athletes earned a perfect 4.0 average for the spring semester and 15 achieved the mark for the school year.

The University of Delaware saw 10 programs earn perfect scores in the NCAA’s annual APR Report for 2018-19, the second-highest total in program history.

The 20 Blue Hen varsity athletic programs posted an average multi-year Academic Progress Rate reaching above 987, the highest in program history. The national average was 983.

The APR measures eligibility, graduation and retention each academic term and provides a picture of the academic performances for each team in every sport.

Hen women sign two

The Delaware women’s basketball team signed Jewel Smalls, a 5-foot-7 guard, who is transferring from Western Carolina, and Jadaia Reid, a 5-9 guard from Ontario, Canada.

Smalls was the Southern Conference Freshman of the Year in 2019, starting 59 games in two seasons with the Catamounts. She averaged 11.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.4 steals.


• The Delaware State women’s basketball team has had at least five players announce their commitment to the Hornets, including a pair of 6-foot-4 high school standouts. One of them is JaNylah Whittlesey from Conrad, which won the DIAA state title three years ago.

• It’s hard to imagine any college athlete playing multiple sports these days. In the late 1970s, Sandy Kupchick was playing three sports at UD — volleyball, swimming and softball.

“Oh God, loved it,” Kupchick said in an interview on Bluehens.com. “I got to meet a whole lot of different athletes, so it was enjoyable to get to have a lot of friends. With the swimming starting when I was six, that provided a lot of upper body strength to help me in volleyball and softball.”

• Delaware senior tennis player Luis Marcano captured the Atlantic Region’s Arthur Ashe Leadership & Sportsmanship Award in addition to the Rafael Osuna Sportsmanship Award.