For over 40 years, Mel Gardner has played a prominent role in Delaware high school baseball, as head coach at William Penn High School for three decades, and behind the scenes as a leader in the sport both locally and nationally. In his 30 years at William Penn, the Colonials compiled a record of 370-208, including a state title in 1991, making Gardner only the fourth coach to reach 300 victories. Two of his players, Cliff Brumbaugh and Brett Oberholtzer, reached the Major Leagues, along with seven other players who played in the minors. He was named Blue Hen Conference Coach of the Year nine times and in 2006 was named the District 2 (Mid-Atlantic) Coach of the Year by the ABCA. His teams were recipients of the state sportsmanship award - selected by the Umpires Association - three times and were also heavily involved with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization. Mel has headed the Delaware Baseball Coaches Association for many years, establishing and organizing the All-State selection process, the Blue-Gold All- Star game selection process, and pre-season All-State teams. In addition, he has managed finances, arranged all-star games, tournament schedules, chaired the committee to choose the DBCA Hall of Fame class, heightened communication among coaches, led fundraising for Carpenter Cup teams, and maintains an authoritative, detailed website about Delaware High School baseball past and present. He is a long-time member of the state tournament committee - helping to organize seeding, assigning personnel, and publicizing results - and served as chairperson for four years. After years of service on the National High School Baseball Association, he was elected to its executive board and later became their president. He gave clinics at their conventions and contributed articles to their website. Every year he has gathered and circulated statistics to see that Delaware players are recognized on both the regional and national levels. Mel earned induction into the Delaware High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2008), the National High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame (2014), and the William Penn High School Hall of Fame (2015).
Jack Gregory enjoyed decades of success as an outstanding football coach and administrator not only in the state of Delaware, but throughout the country. He coached the P.S. du Pont High School football team for five years before a distinguished career as a college coach and administrator. The first administrator and organizer of Delaware’s enormously successful Blue-Gold All-Star High School Football Game, he helped start the annual event that raises awareness of Delaware citizens with intellectual disabilities. He supervised many facets of the event each year and also coached in the game. In 2015, his involvement resulted in the DFRC establishing the Coach Jack and Pat Gregory Outstanding Leadership Award. In 1960 Jack established the Diamond State Athletic Camp held at the Sanford School and led the organization for 11 years. Considered to be the first of its kind overnight athletic camp, the DSAC offered week-long programs in football, basketball, baseball, and wrestling, and attracted leading coaches and players from both the college and professional ranks. He coached P.S. to a 25-16 record in 1954-1958, including three successive upsets of Salesianum. Jack’s college coaching career began at his alma mater, East Stroudsburg (Pa.) University. He led the Warriors to a record of 49-11-2 over seven seasons, including two Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championships, and was named national NCAA College Division Coach of the Year in 1965. After serving as an assistant coach for one season at Navy, he became head coach at Villanova University for three seasons, and at the University of Rhode Island for six years. His career head coaching record stood at an impressive 132-69-2. After two years in the NFL Green Bay Packers scouting department, he became assistant athletic director in the Ivy League at Yale University (1978-82) and then was named athletic director at Bowling Green University (1982-1994). While at BGSU, the school’s ice hockey team captured the NCAA title in 1984. He was inducted into the East Stroudsburg University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1983 and into the Bowling Green State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994. In 1994, a wing of the Bowling Green Athletic Field House was named the “Jack Gregory Turf Room” in his honor and in 2014 East Stroudsburg named its football field Gregory-Douds Field. Jack passed away in 2014.
At both the high school and college levels, Jerry Kobasa was a successful leader on the field, in the coaching box, and in administration for a half-century in Delaware sports. In his youth, he was a football and baseball star at Wesley Junior College in Dover, and later became the starting quarterback at Delaware State College. In 16 years as a high school basketball coach, at Smyrna High School and Sussex Tech High School, he was named Delaware High School Coach of the Year in both 1979 and 2004, led four teams to Henlopen Conference championships, and twice took Sussex Tech to the state Final Four. He was named Henlopen Conference Coach of the Year three times and Delaware Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association (DIBCA) Coach of the Year twice. He then moved to Wesley College and led the Wolverines to the NCAA Division III tournament four times in 10 seasons. He concluded his tenure with an impressive 163-109 record, good for a .600 winning percentage. He won NCAA Division III national Coach of the Month and Mid-Atlantic Coach of the Year honors during his successful tenure. Jerry was Sussex Tech’s first athletic director, serving in that role for 15 years. He also served 15 years on the board of directors of the associations governing Delaware high school sports, including eight years as chairman of the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association (DIAA). He became athletic director of the Seaford School District in 2015. Among his numerous honors are induction into the Wesley College Athletic Hall of Fame (2001), the Blue-Gold All-Star Basketball Hall of Fame (2013), the Delaware Afro-American Athletic Hall of Fame (2015), the Delaware Legends Basketball Hall of Fame (2016), and the Delaware State University Athletic Hall of Fame (2017). He also received the DIAA Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.
One of the top coaches in the history of Delaware high school football, George Kosanovich was a consistent winner wherever he roamed the sidelines as part of a stellar 42-year career in the First State. When Coach K retired following the 2013 campaign, he had recorded an overall mark of 264-177-12 (.596) at Wilmington High School, McKean High School, and Concord High School and ranked as the third winningest coach in state history. Taking over at Wilmington HS in 1972, he posted a record of 35-20-5 over six seasons, including winning the 1976 Blue Hen Conference Flight B championship. In five seasons at McKean HS (1978-1982), his teams were 25-20-2 and captured two Flight B titles. He then took over at Concord HS in 1983 and built the Raiders into consistent winners. Over 32 seasons at Concord, his teams posted a mark of 204-137-5 (.597), reaching the state tournament an incredible 11 times. His squads captured state titles in 2003, 2004, and 2006 and finished as state runners-up in 1997 and 2005. He was named the Delaware High School Division 2 Coach of the Year following that 2004 title season. Along the way, he coached five future National Football League players, including 2019 DSMHOF inductee Montell Owens (Jacksonville, Detroit, and Chicago, 2006-14), former University of Delaware All-American Paul Worrilow (Atlanta, Detroit, and New York Jets in 2013-19), Justin Brown (Pittsburgh in 2014), Delaware State standout Albert Horsey (Baltimore in 2001), and Javor Mills (Jacksonville in 2002). In 2009, the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association presented him the Tubby Raymond Coach of the Year Award. A native of Weirton, W.Va, George came to Wilmington High at the urging of his roommate at Marshall University, Alex Sansosti, whom he succeeded as the Red Devils’ coach after assisting on their 1971 state championship team. George always wore shorts during games, whatever the weather, to make his players believe it was never too cold to play. He also coached wrestling, girls’ basketball and softball at Concord, taking over softball in the early 1990’s and coaching until 2014, leading the Raiders to the state tournament his final season. He was named the state’s Coach of the Year for softball in both 2003 and 2014.
Few schools in the state’s rich athletic history were as dominant in their sport as Tom Lemon’s St. Mark’s High School baseball teams were during his incredible 16-year run as head coach. He built St. Mark’s into a powerhouse on the diamond, leading the Spartans to an overall record of 245-75 (.765 winning percentage) that included eight state championship appearances, including state titles in 1985, 1988, 1994, and 1997. Before Lemon took over his alma mater’s program, St. Mark’s had never won a state tournament game. Seven of his players were drafted into professional baseball, most notably 2017 Delaware Sports Museum & Hall of Fame inductee and University of Delaware All-American Kevin Mench and Delaware State standout Pedro Swann. Mench played eight MLB seasons with Texas, Milwaukee, Toronto, and Washington (2002-10) while Swann played with Atlanta, Toronto, and Baltimore (2000-03). He was named the state Coach of the Year in 1985 and in 1986 he coached Delaware to the inaugural championship of the Carpenter Cup Classic, a tournament with teams from southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey. He also served as head coach at Sanford School (his son, Greg, was his assistant) for two years and was an assistant at Wilmington Friends School for two seasons with his son, Mark, who served as head coach. He presented numerous community clinics and established a Delaware Semi-Pro League team, Pro Physical Therapy, where he coached his sons. He also coached at Capital Little League, Capital Senior Little League, St. John the Beloved CYO, Brandywine Babe Ruth, and Brooks Armored Car in the Senior Babe Ruth League. He served on the DSSAA Baseball Committee from 1990 to 1997 and is currently a member of the Delaware Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame Committee, previously serving as coordinator. He was inducted into the Delaware Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001 and into the St. Mark’s High School Hall of Honors in 1997.
A three-sport standout at Wilmington High School, Art Madric has a noteworthy championship history in the sport of track & field. As a head coach, he guided his squads to 15 state championships and three New Castle County championships, and assisted with six other state championship teams. Prior to coaching high school track and field, he started The Wilmington Track Club in 1975 and found great success, serving as head coach until 2015. Starting with a small group of city children, the program grew rapidly and competed in regional and national competitions, including the prestigious East Coast Invitational at Towson (Md.) University. At the club’s first national meet at Franklin Field in Philadelphia in 1981, team members earned four gold medals. He later started the Higher Heights Track Club based in Bear, Del. As a volunteer, he has coached over 600 track & field athletes, taking Delaware youth throughout the U.S. and leading them to national titles and records. He began his high school coaching at Sanford (1984-86) and Howard (1987-89), and before retiring from the Wilmington Fire Department in 1991, he accepted a position at Glasgow. He was named the state’s coach of the year six times for indoor track & field and two times for outdoor track & field. His coaching specialty came in the hurdles and his athletes won state titles and set numerous records in those events, as well as in the long jump, triple jump, and high jump. He was Terri Dendy’s coach when she made the 1988 Olympic Team and he coached four athletes who competed at the Olympic Trials and two who competed at the USA World Championships. A member of the Wilmington High School Wall of Fame, the Delaware Afro-American Hall of Fame (2004), and Delaware Track Hall of Fame (2009), Art was also honored at the White House in 1994 as an Unsung Hero for his work in developing track athletes. The Art Madric Relays is held annually at Caravel Academy.
One of the top basketball players in the state’s history, Charles Rayne led Indian River High School to two state basketball championships and anchored Temple University’s frontcourt for four years. The Selbyville native was named first-team All-Atlantic 10 and was drafted in the sixth round by the National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns in 1985. At Temple, he contributed all four years for strong teams, three of them under Hall of Fame head coach John Chaney. Charles averaged 10.6 points over 107 career games, finishing with 1,131 points while ranking ninth in Temple history in field goal percentage (.514) and 11th in rebounds (632). As a senior, he averaged 12.6 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while leading the Owls to a 25-6 record and an NCAA Tournament second round appearance. A year earlier, he led the 26-5 Owls to another NCAA second round berth while averaging 8.8 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Coach Chaney often assigned him to cover the strongest opposing frontcourt player, including college standouts and future NBA players such as Ed Pinckney, Sam Perkins, and Dell Curry. A four-year starter at Indian River, he helped his team to the state title game as a freshman in 1978 and earned second-team All-State honors in 1979 and first-team All-State recognition in 1980 and 1981. He was the first Delaware player to be named a top 10 player three times. In 1980, he played through pain with limited mobility from a late-season injury to lead the Indians’ rout of favored Concord in the semifinals and a one-point championship game victory. After most of his teammates graduated, he led the Indians to a repeat title in 1981.
Lou Romanoli’s leadership in Delaware sports spans four sports. A three-year starter for the University of Delaware baseball team when freshmen were not eligible for varsity, he was moved from
shortstop to third base in his senior year of 1956 by new coach Tubby Raymond, who also used him as a pitcher. The Blue Hens went 18-3 and qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time.
In the 1960s, he was a player, manager, head coach and recruiter for championship teams in baseball, football and basketball. At the peak era of the Delaware Semi-Pro Baseball League, he recruited talent (including five former major leaguers from this area) for Brooks Armored Car, for whom he was player-manager. The team broke Parkway’s grip over the league, winning championships in 1963 and 1964 and drawing crowds approaching 4,000. He quarterbacked a Brooks Armored Car squad that dominated the Wilmington Football League, with three championships and two runner-up finishes from 1963-68, and captained a Brooks team that won the Industrial Basketball League. In 1963, Romanoli organized, managed, and played on Brooks championship teams in baseball, football, and basketball. He became general manager of the Wilmington Blue Bombers basketball organization in 1967 and kept the Bombers atop the league and helped several players sign with the NBA and ABA. In 1966, he branched into running, which he continued for 30 years. He logged 3,000 miles annually, completed the 1980 Boston Marathon, and ran the Caesar Rodney Half Marathon 25 consecutive years until double knee replacement surgery turned him into a dedicated cyclist. Romanoli officiated high school basketball for 15 years. In 1964, he was named Young Man of the Year by the Wilmington Junior Chamber of Commerce. Sport Magazine awarded him its Service Award in July 1969. He served as the second president of the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame (1980-82) and in that role introduced more events and social gatherings to build membership.
One of the nation’s most gifted sportswriters, Gary Smith has won four National Magazine Awards, the highest honor bestowed on magazine writer and the magazine equivalent of the Pulitzer Price. His stories have appeared in the annual Best American Sports Writing anthologies 13 times, the most of any writer. Gary’s professional career began early, when he was hired at The Wilmington News Journal as an 11th grader at John Dickinson High School. Two years later, he was working at the Philadelphia Daily News while pursuing his degree at La Salle University in Philadelphia. His 1996 profile of golfer Tiger Woods was included in the Best American Sportswriting of the Century. Media critic Ben Yagoda of the University of Delaware wrote in 2003 that “Smith is not only the best sportswriter in America; he’s the best magazine writer in America. … He favors obscurity over fame, complexity over simplicity, and humility over literary showmanship.” A 2006 survey of Associated Press sports editors selected him as the nation’s top sportswriter. Two collections of his writings have been published: “Beyond the Game: The Collected Sportswriting of Gary Smith” and “Going Deep: 20 Classic Sports Stories.” Gary joined Sports Illustrated in 1982 after working for the New York Daily News, the Philadelphia Daily News and the Wilmington News Journal, where he began in 1971. His writing has also appeared in such iconic publications as Rolling Stone, Life, Esquire, and the Washington Post.
After dominating the 2003 state girls’ basketball tournament, where she led Polytech High School to unprecedented success, Tyresa Smith became the outstanding female athlete at the University of Delaware, the leading scorer and defensive player in the Colonial Athletic Association, and the first Delawarean to play in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). The Dover native was named Delaware’s High School Player of the Year in 2003, when she led Polytech to the state title, the only downstate champion since 1973. Twice named first-team All-State, she was also selected to the Delaware High School All-Decade team. At the University of Delaware, Tyresa was twice named the CAA Defensive Player of the Year and twice was named first-team all-conference for head coach Tina Martin. As a senior in 2006-07, she led the Blue Hens to a 26-5 record and a berth in the NCAA Tournament as she led the CAA in scoring at 19.8 points per game -netting a school single-season record 632 points - while also averaging 7.5 rebounds and 2.6 steals per contest. She was the first Blue Hen to be named All-Region 2. For this, she was named the university’s Outstanding Senior Female Athlete of the Year and shared, with Carrie Lingo, the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association’s Award as the State’s top athlete of 2007. She was also named to the CAA silver anniversary team. She finished her career at Delaware ranked high on the all-time lists for steals (No. 1 with 342), games played (No. 1 with 122), points (No. 2 with 1,635), assists (No. 5 with 307), blocked shots (No. 9 with 71), and rebounds (No. 11 with 635). Drafted by the Phoenix Mercury in the second round of the 2007 WNBA draft, the 18th player taken that year and the first ever from Delaware, she played for the WNBA Detroit Shock, and then in Germany, Russia and Greece. She is now an educator, teaching health and physical education at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School, Washington, D.C.