Lo­cal stars hon­ored

Four with Ne­wark ties in­ducted into hall of fame

Newark Post - - Front Page - By JON BUZBY JonBuzby@hot­mail.com

A record-set­ting high school coach, the state’s first fe­male 2,000-point scorer, a pro­fes­sional base­ball player and an Olympian were among the Class of 2017 in­ductees en­shrined in the Delaware Sports Mu­seum and Hall of Fame on May 16 dur­ing a cer­e­mony held at the Chase Cen­ter on the Wilm­ing­ton Riverfront.

The four ath­letes with ties to Ne­wark were part of an in­duc­tion class of 10.

Butch Simp­son won a record nine Delaware Divi­sion I state foot­ball cham­pi­onships at Ne­wark High School, in­clud­ing five in a row from 1997-2001. His teams also had five run­nerup fin­ishes and were Blue Hen Con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons or co-cham­pi­ons 15 times. In 39 sea­sons as Ne­wark’s coach, Simp­son won 283 games, which in­cluded a 26game win­ning streak dur­ing the 1999-2002 sea­sons.

“To have the op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing you love for your en­tire life is re­ward­ing,” said Simp­son, who was cho­sen as the state’s Coach of the Year in 1984, 1996 and 2011, and served as a head coach in the BlueGold All-Star Foot­ball Game three times. “To have peo­ple rec­og­nize and honor your ef­forts is be­yond ex­pec­ta­tions. As a coach, I am un­com­fort­able with in­di­vid­ual hon­ors. I’m not suc­cess­ful if not sur­rounded by ex­cep­tional coaches and play­ers. Team suc­cess is the ef­fort of the group.”

Simp­son, who re­sides in Florida with his wife Char­lotte, re­tired from coach­ing fol­low­ing the 2015 sea­son ranked sec­ond on Delaware’s all-time wins list.

“Rep­re­sent­ing Ne­wark foot­ball in the Hall of Fame is an honor,” he said. Kristin Mills Cald­well is best known for her bas­ket­ball prow­ess af­ter scor­ing 2,131 points dur­ing a bas­ket­ball ca­reer at Car­avel Academy that in­cluded be­ing named a first-team All-State se­lec­tion for three straight years. She was the first fe­male Delaware bas­ket­ball player to score more than 2,000 points in a ca­reer.

“Car­avel Academy gave me the op­por­tu­nity to be what­ever I wanted to be,” said Cald­well, who teaches at her alma mater and has coached the girls bas­ket­ball team to three state ti­tle games. “Car­avel is fam­ily to me and is a part of my heart and soul. Coaches like Lau­rie Lo­rah, Joe Pen­nell and Paul Nigge­brugge left a last­ing im­pact on me as a per­son and an ath­lete. The school will al­ways have my loy­alty.”

Cald­well went on to earn three let­ters at the Univer­sity of Delaware from 2001-03.

“UD gave me the op­por­tu­nity to get a de­gree in teaching so that one day I could give back to Car­avel as an em­ployee,” Cald­well said. “Play­ing for coach [Tina] Martin taught me a great deal about the game of bas­ket­ball, and I know I am a bet­ter coach be­cause I played there.”

Cald­well was a sec­ondteam All-State vol­ley­ball se­lec­tion as a ju­nior and se­nior and was also a pitcher on Car­avel’s 1998 state cham­pi­onship base­ball team. As a mem­ber of the first-ever USA Base­ball women’s na­tional team, Cald­well was the win­ning gold medal pitcher in the in­au­gu­ral Women’s World Cup.

“Play­ing base­ball for USA Base­ball was the great­est sports ex­pe­ri­ence of my life,” Cald­well said. “It al­lowed me to travel the world — and in 2004 travel with my sis­ter Bon­nie — and play base­ball. I got to rep­re­sent my coun­try in the World Cup three times — twice in Canada and once in Ja­pan. My son Will even got a chance to watch me pitch for the USA. USA Base­ball al­lowed me to con­tinue to be an ath­lete af­ter col­lege and play base­ball at the high­est level pos­si­ble for women.”

Cald­well has been part of the Car­avel coach­ing staff for two state base­ball cham­pi­onships, adding to her al­ready im­pres­sive re­sume lead­ing up to her in­duc­tion.

“Since find­ing out I am go­ing to be in­ducted, my thoughts have re­ally trav­eled to my fam­ily, team­mates, and coaches. I am truly thank­ful for them,” she said. “It makes me feel for­tu­nate for the sup­port and op­por­tu­ni­ties that I have re­ceived in my life. It also makes me feel proud as a Delawarean.” Kevin Mench starred on the base­ball di­a­mond at St. Mark’s be­fore mov­ing on to be­come one of the all-time greats at the Univer­sity of Delaware. In 1998, he was named the Amer­ica East Player of the Year, Divi­sion I player of the Year by Col­le­giate Base­ball Magazine, and was a con­sen­sus Al­lAmer­i­can af­ter belt­ing an NCAA-high 33 home runs. Mench was named con­fer- ence player of the year again in 1999 and is a mem­ber of the Univer­sity of Delaware Ath­let­ics Hall of Fame and the Delaware Base­ball Hall of Fame.

Mench hit 98 home runs dur­ing an eight-year Ma­jor League base­ball ca­reer. In his break­out sea­son in 2004, Mench hit 26 home runs for the Texas Rangers with a slug­ging per­cent­age of .539. In 2006, he be­came the first ma­jor league right-handed bat­ter to homer in seven con­sec­u­tive games, a record that still stands and one he calls the high­light of his pro­fes­sional ca­reer.

“This honor is more for my fam­ily,” Mench said of his in­duc­tion. “They helped me get to this point. My par­ents get­ting me in­volved in sports as a kid and watch­ing my older broth­ers play and fol­low­ing in their foot­steps.”

Mench was happy to be re­turn­ing to the First State for the cer­e­mony.

“I al­ways take great pride be­ing from Delaware,” said Mench, who lives in Texas with his wife and three kids and does com­mu­nity work for the Rangers. “I try to stay true to where I’m from, but it’s still a hum­bling ex­pe­ri­ence just to be a part of the hall of fame.”

Scott Gre­gory is a na­tional cham­pion ice skater who trained in Delaware in prepa­ra­tion for com­pet­ing in two Win­ter Olympics.

“I am very hon­ored to be in­ducted into the Delaware Sports Mu­seum and Hall of Fame,” Gre­gory said. “I feel very priv­i­leged and I’m hum­bled to be rec­og­nized for my par­tic­i­pa­tion in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics while liv­ing, train­ing and rep­re­sent­ing the won­der­ful state of Delaware.”

Gre­gory moved to Delaware in 1980 and trained for six years at the Skat­ing Club of Wilm­ing­ton and then at the Univer­sity of Delaware’s High Per­for­mance Fig­ure Skat­ing Cen­ter. Gre­gory and skat­ing part­ner Lisa Spitz placed sec­ond in the ice danc­ing event at the 1983 na­tion­als and 10th in the 1984 Win­ter Olympics in Sara­jevo. Gre­gory then part­nered with Suzy Se­man­ick and placed sec­ond in the 1986 na­tion­als and sixth in the 1988 Win­ter Olympics in Cal­gary.

“Walk­ing into the Olympic open­ing cer­e­monies sta­dium in Sara­jevo and feel­ing and hear­ing the loud roar of the crowd cheer­ing on the Amer­i­cans gave me goose bumps,” Gre­gory re­called of his fond­est mem­o­ries as a com­peti­tor.

Gre­gory also had the op­por­tu­nity to par­tic­i­pate in the torch cer­e­mony at the 1996 Olympics in At­lanta.

“[I re­mem­ber] wait­ing and watch­ing the torch get closer and closer and then fi­nally there it was,” he re­called. “When the Olympic flame was trans­ferred to my torch, it was a feel­ing I’ll never for­get. It was so pow­er­ful. I was over­com­ing a feel­ing of un­be­lief with tears of joy.”

Since re­tir­ing as a skater in 1988, Gre­gory has been a coach with the Univer­sity of Delaware’s High Per­for­mance Fig­ure Skat­ing Cen- ter and worked with sev­eral Olympians, in­clud­ing 1998 gold medal­ist Tara Lip­in­ski.

“The most sat­is­fy­ing part of coach­ing for me is see­ing my stu­dents’ de­vel­op­ment both phys­i­cally into great ath­letes and men­tally into strong con­fi­dent peo­ple,” he said.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY DAVID MEL­LON

Four peo­ple with ties to Ne­wark were in­ducted into the Delaware Sports Mu­seum and Hall of Fame on Tues­day. From left to right: foot­ball coach Butch Simp­son, skater Scott Gre­gory, bas­ket­ball player Kristin Mills Cald­well and base­ball player Kevin Mench.

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