From the sports editor: Charlie Bell recalled as one of a kind in cross country, track

Charlie Bell was one of those people who lived long enough to see huge changes in the world around him.

The former Caesar Rodney High cross country and track & field coach was born in 1942, when World War II was its height.

Bell attended William C. Jason High in Georgetown — the first high school in Sussex County for African-Americans — and lived through the Vietnam War. But he ended up coaching a program where student-athletes of all backgrounds were welcome.

Sue Hajec knew Bell as a fellow teacher as well as the coach of two of her children. She said there was also something special about Bell, who died earlier this month at the age of 75.

“Charlie Bell lived during some difficult times but never harbored any effects,” said Hajec. “He clearly lived and taught others by his example that love is always the best choice. He was a champion at life for the good of each person he encountered.”

Bell, who also coached at the former Dover Air Force Base High, started coaching track and cross country teams in the 1960s (‘68) and stayed with them all the way until 2007. A former U.S. Marine, he then coached at Delaware State until 2012.

“Charlie really tapped into each athlete’s ability, enabling them to want to do their best,” said former CR athletic director Jim Harvey. “He would personally develop individual programs that enabled athletes to grow and excel. This was a year-round passion for Charlie.

“Caesar Rodney’s running athletic programs were successful for 40 years because of Charlie Bell’s dedication.”

“Charlie was one of a kind,” former CR field hockey coach Debbie Windett wrote in Bell’s online guestbook. “He was a great teacher, coach, and role model to so many.”

“Our Beloved Coach Bell. … who brought pride, dignity, wisdom, humor and love to so many of us on the Delaware State University Track and Cross Country teams,” wrote former Delaware State athletic director Candy Young. “His smile was as warm as the sun and your laughter was as thunderous as running waters. He will be forever embedded in my memories.”

Bell’s boys’ and girls’ cross country teams won a total of 23 Henlopen Conference regular-season titles. The first two of those championships came at Dover Air.

Bell also coached the Riders’ girls to Division I cross country state titles in both 2001 and ‘02.

But that doesn’t mean that winning was the most important thing for Bell.

“Charlie Bell sincerely invested his time and efforts for the good of the whole student, not just for the benefits of being an athlete,” said Hajec. “His quiet demeanor, flooded with wisdom, encouragement, perseverance, and honesty, created not just winning athletes but taught scores of young people to value hard work and wholesome attitudes.”

CR-Dover game moved

Tradition has always been a big part of the Dover-Caesar Rodney High football game tradition.

But this year’s contest will be a little different. The rivalry game has been moved to Thursday, Nov. 9 at CR, rather than the traditional Friday-night matchup.

The two schools decided on the move because both schools will be closed on Nov. 10 for the observance of Veterans Day.

“Being that there’s no staff around, it was a little difficult to get event workers,” said Caesar Rodney athletic director Bob Beron. “All parties on both sides were completely OK with it. Everybody was OK with moving it a day.”

Dover has won the last three meetings in the series.

In remembrance

Besides Charlie Bell, the Delaware sports community lost some other people this week who will be fondly remembered:

• Former Cape Henlopen High athlete Tom Frederick died in a car accident on Monday in Lewes. He was only 40.

Frederick quarterbacked the Vikings in football and played midfield in lacrosse. He was named Cape’s Most Valuable Male Athlete as a senior.

• News Journal sports editor Jason Levine died on Thursday after a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis. He was just 46.

Levine, who had a double-lung transplant in 1996, spent 25 years in the newspaper business, including the last 11 as the News Journal’s sports editor.

Odds & ends

• Dover High grad Jarrod Cain, a senior safety on the Central Connecticut football team, returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown in a win over Sacred Heart two weeks ago. He has a team-leading three interceptions and 45 tackles.

• Another former Senator, Tavarus Sample, has a team-best 50 tackles as a junior defensive back at Slippery Rock. He also has broken up or defended 11 passes.

• Former Blue Hen football star receiver Eddie Conti was back at Delaware Stadium as the new analyst on UD’s radio broadcasts. “Playing the game is a lot different than announcing the game but the great thing they have in common and what I am most excited about is that I am part of the team and in the game again,” said Conti.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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