The leading basketball scorer in the Blue Hen Conference in the 1960's, Sherman Dillard starred at Tulsa University and was a late cut by the St. Louis Hawks in 1967. A first team all-stater at De La Warr High School in 1961 and 1962, he was the only Blue Hen Conference player to exceed 1,000 points in the league’s first 23 years. After his two years at Parsons (Kans.) Junior College, Coach Joe Swank recruited Dillard and two teammates as the first black players at Tulsa University.
In his junior year, 1964-65, Sherman was seventh man for a 14-11 team that beat three top-15 schools, including Seattle (led by Tom Workman), San Francisco (with Ollie Johnson) and Wichita (with Nate Bowman). In his senior year, 1965-66, he was among the nation’s leaders in field goal percentage, shooting 182 for 342 (.532) and led Tulsa to the Rainbow Classic championship, making the all-tournament team. He was second leading scorer for the 16-13 Hurricanes, becoming the seventh player in school history to exceed 400 points in a season.
A strong performance in the 1967 national AAU tournament led the NBA champion 76ers to draft him, making him the third Delaware player taken in the NBA draft (after Ed Koffenberger and Nate Cloud). That fall, he was the last guard cut by the Hawks, the Western Conference finalists. He was the second male player (after Koffenberger) inducted into the Delaware Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.
Mary-de Mackie Hand, along with DSMHOF Hall of Famer Jenni Franks, dominated Delaware women’s swimming for more than a decade. Hand earned a scholarship to the University of South Carolina, where she was a three-time All-America selection and set school records in three events. Hand qualified for two Olympic Trials, and made it to the AAU Nationals for 10 consecutive years.
Mary-de began swimming at Wilmington Aquatic Club (WAC) when she was four years old. By age 10, Mary-de was among the East Coast’s elite competitive swimmers. Hand owned the nation’s fastest time in the age 11-12 200-yard girls’ freestyle for two years (1970-72). Although her high school (A.I.duPont) had no swimming program, Mary-de competed in AAU regional and national meets and summer swim leagues. Before she left Delaware, Mary-de left a tsunami of broken records in her wake. These include her 1973 Delaware open meet 500-yard freestyle mark for girls (13-14 age group) and the girl’s 1,650-yard freestyle record Hand set at age 16 in the Delaware State Swim Meet. Mary-de won five events in that 1975 meet, a precursor of today’s state high school championships.
At age 15, Mary-de was ranked 11th in the United States and 18th in the world in the girl’s 1,500-meter freestyle. She competed in the 1976 Olympic Trials at age 16. Hand qualified for the 1980 Olympic Trials, but her dreams of Olympic gold were shattered by the American boycott of Olympic competition that year. At South Carolina, Hand made the NCAA Division I women’s All-America swim team in 1978, 1979 and 1981. She set school records in the 500 and 1,000-meter freestyle in 1978 and the 400-meter individual medley in 1979.
After a dominant three-sport career at Middletown High School, Dwayne Henry pitched 11 seasons with the Rangers, Braves, Reds, Astros and Tigers, and played professionally for another 10 years in Taiwan, Japan and Mexico. The first Delaware athlete to be named first-team All-State in football, basketball and baseball, the Philadelphia Inquirer chose him Delaware high school Athlete of the Year in 1980. All-state at both quarterback and safety, he led the Cavaliers to the Division II title as a junior, and scored or passed for 162 of his team’s 200 points as a senior.
In basketball, he became the leading scorer in Blue Hen Conference history, and graduated as the fourth leading scorer in state history. An all-conference pitcher, shortstop and first baseman, he hit .400 twice and led Middletown to the state championship game. In a seven-inning Senior League game in 1979, he fanned 17 batters. In ninth grade, his sole year in track, he anchored Middletown’s mile relay team.
Henry was recruited by more than 100 colleges. He accepted a football scholarship to the University of North Carolina before Texas made him the 29th player selected in the 1980 amateur draft. After pioneering surgery from Dr. Frank Jobe to remove a painful elbow nerve, he reached the majors in late 1984. He fanned 7.4 batters per nine innings over his decade-long career. Henry peaked in 1991 (Houston) and 1992 (Cincinnati), with ERA’s of 3.19 and 3.33 and WHIP of 1.33 and 1.23 in 112 games.
The preeminent girl’s high school coach in Delaware over three decades, Karen Kohn produced powerhouse field hockey and basketball teams at A. I. du Pont. In her 20 years as A. I. basketball coach, her teams went 227-86 (.725), making her the state’s winningest girl’s coach when her tenure ended in 1986. Her Tigers won the state championship in 1977, finishing second the year before. Her teams also reached the final four three other times, and won 11 Blue Hen Conference titles. She was named the state girl’s basketball coach of the year in 1968, 1977 and 1986.
During Kohn’s tenure as field hockey coach, 1966-1990, A.I. won eight Blue Hen Conference titles, and repeated as state champions in 1975 and 1976. Over her 25 seasons, the Tigers went 202-69 (.745) in field hockey. She was the state’s coach of the year in 1967, 1976 and 1986. Kohn played a pivotal role in the advancement of girls sports, held leadership positions in coaches’ associations, positively influenced girls throughout the state and received the Pioneer Award from the Delaware Women’s Alliance for Sports and Fitness in 2004.
When A.I. was without a girls track coach in the late 1970's, she learned the sport and helped one of her athletes develop into a state champion. She was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988 at Ursinus College, where she starred in basketball and also lettered in field hockey, softball and lacrosse
Joe Lank was an outstanding athlete at Milford High School and the University of Delaware in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. A three year football letterman at Delaware, Joe played offensive end and defensive back as the Blue Hens’ lone 60-minute player his senior year. His pass reception and 50 yard touchdown run provided Delaware’s only points in a near upset of highly favored Temple in 1951. Joe was the team’s second highest scorer, an All-East defensive back nominee, and a recipient of the Taylor Trophy, the first native Delawarean to win the football team’s individual player award. Delaware’s three year starting shortstop, Joe led the team in home runs and RBI’s in 1951, batting .311 and stealing 14 bases. He was also a letterman in track competing in discus and javelin. The Varsity Club selected Lank for the University’s Outstanding Athlete Award of 1951-52.
At Milford High, Joe was the first athlete to letter in four sports. He was a standout end for Milford’s 1946 championship football team, captain of the 1947 squad, and one of the leading scorers in the state. Joe started at center for three basketball seasons, and then competed in baseball and track in the spring. He joined Milford’s first track team in 1946, and won the 1948 state meet championship in two events, the discus (state meet record) and javelin. Following a 28-year Army career, Joe commanded the Delaware National Guard, retiring a Major General. He now lives in Lewes.
Matthew C. “Matt” Minker played a major role in bringing professional baseball back to Wilmington after a 35-year hiatus and building Frawley Stadium, home of the Blue Rocks, which sparked the renaissance of Wilmington’s waterfront. Minker’s lifelong passion was baseball. He played varsity baseball at Conrad High, the University of Delaware and in Wilmington’s semi-pro leagues. He later founded Minker Construction Company.
In the early 1990’s Matt became a part owner of the Blue Rocks franchise and his company completed the teams' new stadium in time for the Blue Rocks April, 1993 home opener. Wilmington’s re-entry into professional baseball was an immediate and long-term success under Minker’s leadership. As an affiliate of the Kansas City Royals from 1993 through 2004, Wilmington had the best winning percentage among all full-season minor league clubs. Also during that span, the Rocks made the Class A Carolina League playoffs 10 times, winning four championships. Minker eventually became the team’s majority owner, and was named to the national Minor League Baseball Board of Directors. He also owned a share of the Class AAA Omaha, Nebraska Royals club.
Matt believed in giving back to the local community. He was a strong supporter of the Canal and other Little Leagues, and opened Frawley Stadium to Delaware high school baseball. For these efforts, Matt was inducted into the Delaware High School Coaches Hall of Fame in 2006. Minker was instrumental in obtaining the present-day site of the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame at Frawley Stadium.
Born in Lewes and raised in Laurel, Delaware, William Moyer set an NCAA national swimming record while earning All-American honors in 1966 at Dickinson College. He also set numerous school and pool records while dominating East Coast rivals. His record of excellence continues today, nearly 50 years later in Delaware Senior Olympics Masters Swimming and Mid-Atlantic triathlon competition, where Bill has set local and regional records.
Moyer was the first athlete at Dickinson College to be named All American in any sport. In college, Moyer won gold medals in the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Swimming Championships for four consecutive years in three events: the 100-yd. breastroke, 200-yd. breaststroke and 400-yard medley relay. Bill set the Dickinson and pool records in the 200-yard breaststroke and 400-yd. medley relay in his freshman year. He broke each of these records in his sophomore, junior and senior years. Moyer was the first freshman at Dickinson to be selected swimming MVP as a freshman. He co-captained the team in his junior and senior seasons. Moyer was the first swimmer inducted into the Dickinson Sports Hall of Fame. Moyer was also a swimming phenom at Mercersburg Academy, where he set school records in the 100-yard breaststroke and on the 200-yard medley relay.
In 1978, Bill began 17 years of Masters Swimming competition, setting numerous breaststroke records. He has established Delaware state records in breaststroke in four different age brackets. Since 1992, Bill has competed in Mid-Atlantic Region triathlons. In 2009 he was the overall point earner for the Greater Atlantic Multisport Championship sponsored by Pirhana Sports. He serves as Delaware Special Olympics coordinator for triathlons and has also coached Special Olympics teams.
Sheldon Thomas is arguably the greatest wrestler in Delaware history, having been a three-time NCAA Division I All-American for Clarion University, where he also won an NCAA title at 118 pounds in 1996. Thomas is the only Delawarean to win an NCAA mat championship. Sheldon wrestled for St. Marks High School, where he earned four individual state championship titles. He was named Delaware’s outstanding prep wrestler two consecutive years (1991 and 1992).
A highly accomplished freestyle wrestler as well, Thomas finished fifth at the Olympic Freestyle Trials in both 1996 and 2000. In 1998, he made the USA Senior National Team, and was a three-time Junior National Champion during his high school years. Thomas is an inductee of the Delaware Wrestling Hall of Fame. During his four years as a starter for the Clarion University Eagles, Thomas posted a 124-12 career record.
Sheldon has served as an assistant wrestling coach at Clarion and was a club coach at Lock Haven University. He was an assistant for the University of Pennsylvania beginning in 2003, where his role was to develop and train the team’s lightweights. A few years after Sheldon began at Penn, Quakers wrestler Matt Velenti made a name for himself by winning two national titles in the 125 pound and 133 pound classes. Thomas currently operates the Thomas Wrestling Academy in Delaware.
Larry Wheeler became the all-time winningest high school baseball coach in the history of the state of Delaware in 2010, surpassing the record of Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame inductee The Rev. Robert Kenny from Salesianum. In Wheeler’s first 31 years as head baseball coach his teams amassed a record of 419-169 at Claymont, Brandywine and Delaware Military Academy. Claymont and Brandywine had the smallest enrollments in their conference, however, his teams always played at a high level.
Wheeler’s teams were known for being prepared and playing hard. At Claymont, Wheeler’s teams won nine Flight B Championships, qualified for the state tournament 10 times, appeared in four semi-finals, three championship games and won the state championship in 1973. At Brandywine, Wheeler’s teams won four Flight A Championships, qualified for the state tournament 10 times, appeared in four semi-finals, three championship games and won the 2002 state championship. At Delaware Military Academy his teams have an overall record of 53-45. Wheeler’s first team All-State players include: Tony Coppol, Carmen Coppol, Walter Coppol, Mike Dougherty, Tom Marcin, Mark Santiobianco, Mike Pabst, Tony Cella, Ralph Cella, Frank Fortuna, Greg Marcin and Andy Fox (1998 Player of the year).
Additionally, Wheeler coached football at Claymont and Brandywine. His teams amassed a record of 127-80-1. Larry is the only coach to lead Claymont and Brandywine to the high school football championship game. Wheeler continues to coach baseball at Delaware Military where he instills a competitive spirit and winning attitude in his players.
Delaware long-distance running ace Doug White has achieved a milestone matched by only five other athletes in the world. Through 2011, Doug has qualified for and completed 39 consecutive Boston Marathons –a race considered one of the most grueling sporting events on the planet. He also holds multiple Delaware distance running records. The Dickinson High graduate has completed more than 80 marathons.
He was the top Delaware finisher in the Boston Marathon seven times and headed the state’s Master’s finishers four times. Doug’s average time for the first 14 Boston Marathons was two hours, 39 minutes and 29 seconds. His best Boston showing in the Master’s age 40-49 class was an eighth place finish in 1985. He was 14th at Boston in the Master’s age 60-69 class in 2004. White’s distance running success has not been limited to Boston. He was second in the 1982 Philadelphia Half-Marathon. Doug won the 1984 Broad Street 10-Miler in Philadelphia Master’s class and was 15th overall among 3,000 runners.
Of the 49 marathons run at a sub-six-minute pace by Delaware residents, White accounts for 15 of them – more than any other state resident by a huge margin. He owns the record of 34 consecutive finishes in the Caesar Rodney Half-Marathon, and once held the Master’s course record in that event. Doug is an internationally ranked Master’s competitor by Runner’s World Magazine. Overall, White has run some 85,000 miles in competition – equivalent to more than three times around the world. He has been inducted into the Pike Creek Valley Running Club Hall of Fame.