Once upon a time and an era ago, there was a little thing called the All-Delco banquet.
OK, let’s not make it sound that mystical. It was held in a hotel ballroom with seating charts, check-your-choice dinner plates and nervous sportswriters remembering why public speaking wasn’t listed on their resumes. But what assembled in that room each June for 26 straight years was something quite special — a yearly accounting of the best and brightest high school athletes in Delaware County. The list of attendees has only grown more illustrious in retrospect, as those athletes have gone on to great success, in college and the pros, on the field and off, literally the world over.
The days of banquet programs and featured speakers are long gone. But the spirit that event fostered — one that we recognized in the late 1980s and informed us more than we informed it — continues. With the school year wrapped up, then, we wondered if we could find a way to bring it back in some small way.
One of the cornerstones of the banquet each year was the Male and Female Athletes of the Year. As reporters, we consulted coaches and assembled teams of the best athletes in each sport, the All-Delcos that populated the banquet. But part of the night’s festivities allowed athletes to pick for themselves who they thought was the best athlete of the year, an award determined by their peers.
Like any other year, the candidates are plentiful. On the girls side, two athletes took home multiple player of the year honors – Olivia Dirks of Episcopal Academy in lacrosse and soccer, and Strath Haven’s Grace Forbes in track and cross country. The backbone of the Springfield lacrosse state championship squad and Garnet Valley’s District 1 Class 6A basketball squad will be well represented.
The boys’ candidates include a slew of distinguished scorers in basketball, from Player of the Year Christian Ray to 2,000-point scorer Isaiah Wong to Vinny DeAngelo of Sun Valley, one of the top 15 scorers in Delaware County history. Two soccer teams played for state titles in the fall, and a thrilling football season produced a bevy of records.
These days, our shared conversation space is social media, so we’re taking the Athletes of the Year there.
For the next three weeks, we’re going to let you, the readers of Delaware County and its sports teams, pick the Male and Female Athletes of the Year via our Instagram page. Here’s how to vote:
Follow our Instagram account, @delcotimessports. On Monday through Thursday starting July 8, we’ll post each morning to our “stories” (click the circle with the logo at top left of the profile) to narrow down a list of the top 16 male and top 16 female athletes in head-to-head votes. The first round for the girls will be July 8-9 (4 poll questions each day), with the boys July 10-11. You can also follow along with the hashtag, #DelcoAOTY.
Winners will advance to the next week (again girls on Monday and Tuesday, July 15-16; boys on Wednesday and Thursday, July 17-18), and by July 24 and 25, we’ll have our finalists. Make sure to check in and vote every day, since the stories are only up for 24 hours; we’ll have them up in the morning, perfect for when you finally get to the beach for the day or when you take your lunch break to get some fresh air.
We’ll feature the winners in the paper, and while we don’t have the budget for plaques that we once did, you can’t like a plaque on Instagram. Nominees will be provided by our All-Delco teams and in consultation with our sports department.
So get ready to log on and join us as we relive the highlights of the high school year … and maybe make some new traditions in the process.