Sid Cassidy's connection with excellence in the water goes back 40 years or more. He competed in high school, AAU – now known as USA Swimming – NCAA, Open Water and Beach Patrol. Later this year Cassidy will serve as meet referee for the men’s open water swimming competition in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Cassidy was a key member of Salesianum School's first Delaware state swimming title in 1973. He won two individual titles for the championship: 200 and 400-meter freestyle – and was a member of the Sals’ winning 400-meter relay team. Cassidy's swimming skills earned him a scholarship to North Carolina State University where he had a standout career, achieving All-American status in 1975 and 1976. Cassidy won eight Atlantic Coast Conference individual swimming titles – two in the 200, and three straight in the 500 and 1,650. He was part of the Wolfpack’s 800-meter relay team that swept three straight ACC meet titles. After college Cassidy became a professional marathon swimmer (ranked 4th in the world at one time), and swam and coached a six-member team that set three records for the English Channel swim: England to France, France to England and double-channel crossing. Cassidy had highly successful college swimming coaching stops at Tampa, Florida State, Miami and James Madison. Cassidy became a member of the FINA (Federation Internationale de Natation) Technical Open Water Swimming Committee in 1996. The committee's goal: get open water swimming as an Olympic medal sport. In 2005, Cassidy was inducted as an Honor Administrator to the International Swimming Hall of Fame. A year later, Cassidy took over as chairman of the Open Water Swimming Committee and in 2008, at the Olympic Summer Games in Beijing; he was the starter for the first Olympic 10K Open Water event. In 2009, Cassidy received the USA Swimming Award, the organization’s highest honor. He is aquatics director and head swim coach at St. Andrew’s Prep in Boca Raton, Fla. and is a four-time Florida High School Coach of the Year.
A record-setting hurdler at Howard High School, Dick Cephas became a Big Ten champion and University of Michigan record-holder in the low hurdles. At Howard in 1957, Cephas won the state low hurdles championship in a state record 12.2 seconds, and the New Castle County high jump title in 6-0¼, second best to that point in state history. At Michigan, he was a three-time NCAA All-American, earning the honor in the high jump in 1959 and in the 440-yard hurdles in 1960 and 1961. He was the Big Ten outdoor champion in the 220-yard low hurdles in 1961. He held the university’s indoor records at the 60, 65, 70 and 75-yard low hurdles and outdoor school records in the 220-yard low hurdles, 440-yard and 400-meter intermediate hurdles, and high jump, and was a member of school record 4x110 and sprint medley relay teams. Cephas reached the semifinals of the 1960 Olympic Trials, then joined the U.S. Military team, and won a bronze medal in the 440-yard intermediate hurdles at the Military Olympics in Brussels. He was also a member of the United States team that competed in Africa, where his 400-meter intermediate times were faster than the national records of five of the six nations against which he competed. He was a charter inductee of the Delaware Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1994, and was inducted into the University of Michigan Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2011. He died in November 2015.
Bob Colburn began his baseball coaching career in 1961 at St. Andrew’s School. In 2016, more than 430 victories later, Colburn will coach his 55th season at the Middletown school. He ranks second in wins among Delaware high school baseball coaches. Colburn has been selected as Delaware’s Baseball Coach or Co-Coach of the Year four times (1981, ’88, ’91 and 2002). He was inducted into the Delaware High School Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 1993. Colburn has served as president of the National Baseball Coaches Association. In 2013 he received the National High School Federation Award for outstanding service to baseball. The St. Andrew’s baseball field is named for him. With St. Mark’s coach Bob Fischer, in 1978 Colburn helped organize the Delaware Baseball Coaches Association and the first Blue-Gold all-star game. In 1985-86 he was influential in organizing the Carpenter Cup, which provides an opportunity for high school players in the tri-state area to showcase their skills in front of major league scouts and college coaches. In 2010 Colburn was presented a Phillies jersey bearing No. 25 for his 25 years of service with the Carpenter Cup. He received the 2011 Herm Reitzes Award from the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association for outstanding public service. Colburn is a four-time recipient of the Upstate Umpires Sportsmanship Award. On the academic front, Colburn was named Delaware Chemistry Teacher of the Year in 1996. He retired from teaching at St. Andrew’s in 2005. Colburn is a graduate of Haverford College, where he played four years of baseball and two years of football.
Rich Gannon was a record-setting quarterback at the University of Delaware who went on to fame in the NFL for 17 seasons. Following Gannon’s final season (1986) at Delaware he held 10 career, nine season and three single-game records as a three-year starting QB. Gannon led the Blue Hens to 24 wins and a Yankee Conference title (’86). He was a fourth-round draft choice of the New England Patriots in ’87. In the NFL, Gannon directed the Oakland Raiders to Super Bowl XXXVII. He was a two-time Bert Bell NFL Player of the Year (2000 and ’02). Among Gannon’s NFL records is the most 300-yard passing games in a season, 10 in 2002. During his NFL career Gannon passed for just under 29,000 yards and threw 180 touchdown passes. He set eight Raiders franchise records. Gannon was inducted into the UD Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame in 2015 (he is a graduate of St. Joseph’s Prep). After his retirement as a player Gannon joined CBS Sports as a TV analyst for NFL games.
In her more than six decades involved with tennis Nancy Keiper was known as “a pied piper of grassroots tennis.” Keiper raised thousands of dollars for inner-city tennis and education programs for at-risk youth. She was instrumental in the work of the Wilmington Tennis Foundation and the Rodney Street Tennis & Tutoring Association, which began with barely 100 participants and evolved into programs serving more than one thousand young people. Keiper is an inductee in three halls of fame: U.S. Tennis Association/Middle States, Drexel University and Delaware Tennis. With her husband Walter and sons Walter and Mark, the Keipers were named Delaware Tennis Family of the Year in 1978 and ’83. At Drexel, Keiper was a three-year tennis captain. She also won four letters in badminton. While coaching tennis at Archmere Academy, Keiper was twice named Delaware Coach of the Year, in 1993 and ‘96. She also was Middle States Coach of the Year. For her contributions to tennis she received the Middle States Presidential Service Award. As a player, Keiper won a gold medal in doubles at the U.S. National Senior Olympics in 1995 and a silver medal in ’93. She was a member of three national titlist teams in the competitive USTA League program.
Twice first-team all-state in basketball at Caesar Rodney High, three times an all-Atlantic Coast Conference third-team player in college, Laron Profit played professionally for 11 years, including four seasons in the NBA. He led the Riders to the state tournament finals in 1994, the first of his two all-state seasons. At the University of Maryland, Profit averaged 12.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. He was twice an All-America honorable mention and three-time all-ACC third team selection. He scored 1,566 points and took 572 rebounds for the Terps, and was one of only eight players in Maryland history with at least 1,500 points and 500 rebounds. During his senior season (1998-99), Profit averaged 14.5 points and 4.8 rebounds, leading Maryland to the NCAA Sweet 16. Taken as the 38th pick in the second round of the 1999 NBA draft by the Orlando Magic, he was traded before his rookie year to the Washington Wizards, where he played two seasons. After spending the next three years playing in Italy and China, Profit rejoined the Wizards in 2004-05, and played a fourth NBA season for Phil Jackson’s Los Angeles Lakers in 2005-06. He also played professionally in Turkey, Puerto Rico and Argentina. He averaged 11.4 minutes in his 135 regular season NBA games, starting 18 of them. He is now assistant coach for player development with the Orlando Magic.
A high school All-American at St. Mark’s, the lefthander was the mainstay of Stanford University’s pitching corps, and played four professional seasons. Twice Delaware's Gatorade High School Player of the Year and first-team All-State, Mark Romanczuk was named second team All-American by Baseball America, and named All-American by Collegiate Baseball and the National High School Baseball Coaches Association after a senior year when he was 10-0, with three no-hitters, a perfect game, 146 strikeouts and a 0.66 ERA, yielding 19 hits in 66 innings. Also a basketball and soccer letterman at St. Mark’s, he averaged 12.3 points and 9.5 rebounds as a senior and played on two state soccer champions. A fifth round selection by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays after his senior year at St. Mark’s in 2002, he opted for Stanford. He struck out 30 batters in his first 33.2 innings as a freshman, when he was All-Pac-10, First Team Freshman All-American (Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball), honorable mention All-American (College Baseball Insider) and one of four National Freshman of the Year selections of Collegiate Baseball. As a sophomore in 2004, Romanczuk was named Delaware’s Athlete of the Year by the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association, after going 11-3, making All-Pac-10 and third team All-American (Collegiate Baseball) and leading Stanford in innings pitched, strikeouts, starts, wins and ERA. He pitched for Team USA during the summers of 2004 and 2005. Ranked 31 on Baseball America’s list of top collegiate prospects after his junior year, he was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the fourth round. After fanning 59 batters in his 61 Pioneer League innings in 2005, he missed 2006 with an irritated nerve removed from his elbow. He returned to Stanford during that year and completed his degree in economics. He pitched effectively in relief in the Class A Midwest League (4-3, 3.73) in 2007, then pitched two more seasons in independent leagues before retiring from baseball. Romanczuk is tied for sixth in career victories at Stanford.
Jeff Taylor was an outstanding baseball player at the University of Delaware and a respected baseball scout. Drafted by the New York Yankees in 1977, Taylor played five seasons of minor league baseball, climbing as high as the Double A level, when an elbow injury ended his playing career. Returning to UD, Taylor served as assistant baseball coach. In 1986 he was named head baseball coach at Wilmington College and guided the Wildcats to a district championship. The next year Taylor began scouting for the Yankees. He later scouted for the Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds. He retired in the fall of 2014 as major league special assistant to the Reds general manager. He passed away later that year. All people needed to know about Taylor’s team-first attitude was a development at Newark High, where he was a three-sport standout. When Newark coach Fran Fulghum told Jeff and his twin brother Steve they couldn’t keep switching between pitcher and catcher, Steve said he didn’t want to give up pitching. Jeff said, “I’ll catch.” At UD Taylor compiled a 13-5 pitching record in his sophomore and senior years. During his junior year he was UD’s catcher. He was drafted as a catcher by the Texas Rangers after his junior year, but stayed at UD. Following his senior year, Jeff was drafted by the Yankees in the ninth round. Jeff’s brother Steve, a Delaware Sports Hall of Famer, also pitched in the Yankees farm system. While at Newark High, Jeff led the Gold all-stars to victory in the annual Blue-Gold football game, throwing three touchdown passes.
The few field hockey opponents who managed to score against Jana Withrow felt like celebrating. Withrow, from Alexis I. du Pont High, was the goalkeeper for the University of North Carolina’s national champions in 1995, ’96 and ’97. As of 2013 her 46 career shutouts were still records for UNC and the Atlantic Coast Conference. In her junior year, Withrow allowed just 0.61 goals per game, the nation’s best mark. As a freshman, her 14 shutouts and 0.43 goals-against average remain UNC and ACC records. Withrow was an All-American in 1996 and ’97. She was named to the ACC’s 50th anniversary team in 2002 and the NCAA Division I 25th anniversary team in 2005. She was a member of the USA National team from 1997 to 2000. Withrow was Delaware’s Athlete of the Year in 1997, as chosen by the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association. After serving as an assistant coach at UNC and Columbia University, Withrow was Columbia’s head coach from 2008 to 2010. In her first season as an assistant with the Lions, Withrow coached goaltender Gena Miller to first-team All-Ivy League honors and All-American recognition by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA). Miller became the first-ever Columbia field hockey player to earn All-American honors. During her first two seasons with Columbia, Withrow helped the Lions to back-to-back 11-win seasons. In 2007, she helped guide Columbia to a second place finish in the Ivy League, while the five conference wins that season established a new program best.
Few athletes know what it’s like to be unbeaten. Wendy Zaharko is one of those elite athletes. During her four-year squash career at Princeton University, Zaharko not only never lost a match, she never lost a game. The Mount Pleasant High graduate won the national collegiate women’s individual championships in 1972, ’74 and ’75 and led Princeton to two national team championships. She did not play in the 1973 tournament because she competed in the U.S. Squash Racquets Association Nationals instead. For seven years, until she began training for her career as a physician in 1977, Zaharko was ranked among the nation’s top five players, collegiate or otherwise. She represented the United States at the Women’s Squash Jubilee in England in 1976. After college Zaharko was the pro at the Manhattan Squash Club. She is a member of the College Squash Association’s Hall of Fame, housed at the University of Pennsylvania. As a youth Zaharko was an outstanding badminton player and also threw the javelin. After she injured her back and couldn’t hit overheads in badminton, she started playing squash at the Wilmington Racquet Club. In 2006, The Daily Princetonian, the school’s newspaper, ranked her No. 10 of the 20 greatest athletes to ever play at Princeton.