From the Sports Editor: Volleyball set to start after officials OK new contract

Better late than never, the Delaware high school girls’ volleyball season will officially swing into action this week.

Most of the state’s matches had been postponed so far while the sport’s officials association and the state’s athletic directors worked out the details of their contract.

But Timothy Neal, the president of the Delaware Volleyball Officials Association, said his members accepted the latest contract proposal on Wednesday afternoon.

For the Henlopen Conference, that means their first matches will be held today at 5 p.m.

“I am happy for the girls,” said Neal. “Everyone — DIAA, the ADs, and the officials — wants them back on the court playing a sport they love.”

Caesar Rodney High athletic director Bob Beron, the Henlopen Conference volleyball chairman, agreed that everybody involved with the sport is glad to get the season started.

He had just sent a letter to the CR players’ parents, asking for their patience.

“It just talked about how everyone’s doing everything they can to ensure that the volleyball season will go on,” said Beron. “Basically, stay positive — those were the things I kept reiterating. Stay positive and know that we empathize with the frustration that the parents may be feeling. Luckily everything worked out.

“It is great that we all were able to make an agreement, move forward and get the season rolling. Ultimately, the student-athletes were the ones that were missing out on the opportunity. We have to make sure we take care of them.”

While some teams played matches using approved officials outside the association, the Henlopen Conference decided to wait until all its teams could play.

Beron said the matches that were postponed since last Friday are all being rescheduled.

“It was great that all were supportive and not one school was trying to go out and find officials,” he said about the conference. “It was nice that, at our Henlopen meeting, we all tried to stay positive and hope that something would come out of it.”

Unified football recognized

Three downstate teams — Caesar Rodney, Seaford and Smyrna — will field teams in Delaware’s newly-recognized Unified Flag Football League.
McKean, Middletown, Mt. Pleasant, Newark Charter and William Penn will also have squads in the eight-team league that was announced by both Special Olympics Delaware and the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association.

“DIAA is thrilled that the partnership with SODE has resulted in a full season of flag football competition for eight of our member schools,” DIAA executive director Thomas Neubauer said in a press release. “We look forward for more growth in the near future.”

The Unified Football League will include high school students with and without disabilities competing in games twice a week.

The first games are scheduled for Sept. 20: Mt. Pleasant hosts Middletown (3:30 p.m.); Newark Charter travels to McKean (3:30); Caesar Rodney plays at Seaford (4); and William Penn and Smyrna play under the lights at 7:30 in Smyrna.

All games are officiated by crews from the Northern and Southern Delaware Football Officials Associations.

The eight teams will be seeded based on regular-season records with playoff games played on Nov. 12 at St. Andrew’s School as part of the Special Olympics Fall Festival. The winners of the playoff games will play for the Unified flag football championship on Dec. 3 at Delaware Stadium between the high school Division I and II football state championship games.

A championship game was played last season after four schools participated in the sport.

“Research has shown that through Unified Sports, barriers are broken down and friendships created, and most importantly, those friendships last long beyond the final whistle,” said Kylie Frazer, director of school initiatives for SODE. “The stories we saw unfold at the four schools involved in last year’s pilot further reinforced the positive impact Unified Sports can have on the entire school population and its environment.”

Delle Donne on the mend

Elena Delle Donne apparently made it through surgery on her right thumb just fine on Tuesday.

The former Delaware basketball star tweeted out a photo of herself in a hospital bed with a cast on her right hand and a smile on her face.
“Be back on the court in no time,” she wrote.

There’s been no timetable given for Delle Donne’s return. The reigning WNBA MVP and her Chicago Sky teammates are slated to open the playoffs next week.

Delle Donne was tied for the league lead in scoring at 21.5 points per game.

Odds & ends

•More than 150 truck drivers will take part in ‘the World’s Largest Truck Convoy’ event for Special Olympics on Sept. 24 at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington. It’s the 14th year for the event, a police-escorted 28-mile scenic ride through downstate Delaware.

In 13 years, the event has raised more than $433,000 for Special Olympics Delaware. To participate in the convoy, trucks must weigh at least 10-GVW and drivers must raise a minimum of $100.

For more information, visit www.sode.org.

•While Delaware’s game at Wake Forest on Saturday on Saturday will be the first meeting between the two football programs since 1932, there are some more current ties between the Blue Hens and Demon Deacons.

Delaware grad Warren Ruggiero is Wake’s offensive coordinator while Dave Cohen, the defensive coordinator for the Hens’ 2003 national championship team, is Wake’s defensive line coach.

•The Central Connecicut State football team has three downstate players on its roster: Carlton Nash (Smyrna), Jarrod Cann (Dover) and Lee Jones, who played at St. Mark’s High but is from Smyrna.

•Ryan Allen, a 6-foot-1 Baltimore native who plays point guard for Dematha High, has verbally committed to the Delaware basketball team. He’d be part of new Blue Hen coach Martin Inglesby’s recruiting class for the 2017-18 season.

Allen also had offers from George Mason and Towson.

•Heart In The Game will hold its ninth annual free EKG screening event on Saturday at Woodbridge High from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The event is open to Delaware students ages 8-19.

According to the group, physicals recognize only one percent of preventable heart ailments while EKG’s recognize 91 percent.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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