A new year brings change for Diocese of Wilmington athletics as new coaches and athletic directors prepare to take the reins

A new year brings change for Diocese of Wilmington athletics as new coaches and athletic directors prepare to take the reins

The high school sports year begins—literally—on September 1 with three “Sunday 0” football games. One of them involves a Catholic school, as Salesianum hosts Cape Henlopen at 7pm. at the Abessinio Stadium. Saint Mark’s is scheduled to play open two nights later on the road at A.I. DuPont.

The actions will look the same, but there are some changes in the Catholic high school. One of the biggest is in Ss. Peter and Paul High School in Easton, Md., where the Sabers will field a volleyball team for the first time. Club volleyball has existed before that because the administration measured interest in the sport.

In Wilmington, each all-girls high school has a new face in charge. At Padua Academy, Rick Shea was appointed athletic director after holding the same position at Brandywine High School for many years.

Rainbow Shaw-Giaquinto returns to the post of volleyball head coach, which he held several years ago. He was assistant coach last year and has long been a member of the volleyball coaching staff for Pandas. This winter, Denise Igo-Sackett will take on basketball coaching duties. Sackett played basketball for Panda and graduated from school in 1997.

A few blocks away, Stephanie Mark is the director of athletics at the Ursuline Academy, replacing Susan Heiss, who is retiring after 38 years at school, including about 30 as an AD. Mark most recently served as director of interschool athletics for the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association. He has experience in coaching at the high school and college level, and he is an AD assistant at Sanford School.

Heiss also stepped down as volleyball coach, replacing him with Jen Johnson, most recently at the Delaware Military Academy. Johnson, an Ursuline alumnus, has also coached at Newark High School and has coached freshmen in Padua.

Heiss isn’t the only legend retiring from Ursuline. Cross-country and athletics coach Jim Fischer, who was inducted in 2012 into the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame, is retiring after 53 years of coaching. Taking over from Fischer are Melanie Aube and Brittany Keller, who will share head coaching responsibilities. Aube is a teacher at the high school, while Keller is Ursuline’s marketing and communications manager. The pair have served as Fischer’s assistants for the past few years.

St. Middle School Elizabeth also welcomes the new athletic director, but her face is familiar at school. Tom Beddow is a longtime faculty member at St. Elizabeth, where he also served as an athletic trainer and baseball coach. The school has added an AD assistant. It was Caitlin Finkley, who is also the school’s director of marketing and communications, as well as director of alumni relations.

There are new coaches for the three women’s sports. Kimo Aweau now leads the volleyball team. He is a coach at Premier Volleyball Club. Haley Will is the new field hockey coach, assisted by James Pascoe. Both are teachers at the school. And Joey Peronti, a member of the 2000 Viking Class, is the new women’s basketball coach.

At Saint Mark’s High School, Dena Iudica has joined the Spartan family as head cheerleading coach. Iudica, who graduated from Saint Mark’s in 1997, is a college cheerleader and has coached at the high school level. Iudica also established a mentoring program called Cheer for Fun, which provides at-risk fourth- to sixth-grade students the opportunity to cheer and learn dance routines.

Lastly, the men’s volleyball teams at Saint Mark’s and Salesianum are nothing new. They have competed in the New Castle County League for the past few years, but if 16 schools enter a varsity team next spring, they will do so as the official DIAA championship sport.

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