NEW CASTLE – Paul Worrilow, a graduate of St. Mary Magdalen School who recently completed his first season in the National Football League, was named the John J. Brady Athlete of the Year by the Delaware Sportwriters and Broadcasters Association at the organization’s annual banquet Feb. 17 at the Sheraton Wilmington South hotel.
Worrilow, 23, made the Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Delaware. A linebacker, he led the team in tackles with 127 despite not starting until the fifth game of the year. That was 42 more than anyone else on the team, and it tied him for 12th in the league.
After graduating from St. Mary Magdalen, Worrilow went to Concord High School, leading the Raiders to a state championship and being named the 2007 state player of the year. He spent a year in junior college before walking on at Delaware.
He maintains strong ties to the First State. During his off week this past season, he attended the Blue Hens’ game on a Saturday and spent time with the St. Mary Magdalen teams.
“I take a lot of pride in the fact that I grew up in Delaware and played football at the University of Delaware. For that reason, this is an award that I will always cherish,” Worrilow said in a statement. He was in Atlanta working out with the team and unable to attend.
Scott Selheimer, the assistant athletic director and sports information director at UD, accepted the award for Worrilow.
The Brady Award was one of five given out at the banquet. Salesianum’s soccer team was named the team of the year after going 17-0-1 and winning its 10th state title in 12 years. The Sals upset St. Benedict’s (N.J.), then the top-ranked team in the country, and gave up just four goals all year. Salesianum finished the season as the country’s second-ranked team.
Salesianum coach Scott Mosier said the atmosphere at the school helps drive the team’s success. He noted that three busloads of students made the trip to New Jersey to watch the game against St. Benedict’s.
“I’m really blessed to be in an environment like Salesianum,” he said. “They get results because they are such good kids.”
Lynn Richardson of Polytech High School received the Tubby Raymond Award as coach of the year. Richardson leads both the lacrosse and field hockey teams at Polytech and took both to the state tournament. She was named coach of the year in both sports and did all this while being diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer.
“Coaching was definitely the best medicine I could have had,” she said.
The Herm Reitzes Award for service to the athletic community went to Tony Defazio of Lewes, who is active at Cape Henlopen High School as an announcer and has been an official and umpire for a variety of sports.
Defazio said he got involved in officiating when he moved to Delaware in 1996 and has seen many athletes grow from youngsters to adults.
“It’s been such a pleasure to work with them,” he said. “I can’t wait for the snow to melt and for the games to begin.”
New this year was the Buddy Hurlock Unsung Hero Award, given to someone who has overcome obstacles to make contributions to a team. There were two winners: Padua Academy senior dance team member Erin Wendelburg and Sussex County all-wheel bowler Mike DeStasio.
Wendelburg was profiled in The Dialog in December. She lost her mother to cancer at age 8 and her father four years later. Shortly after the end of her sophomore year at Padua she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and the treatment caused her to miss much of her junior year. She returned to Padua midway through her junior year, and this year she returned to the dance team.
Wendelburg’s grandparents, sister and dance team coach accompanied her to the banquet, as did several teammates whose appearance was a surprise to her. During her remarks, Wendelburg thanked her family for all of their support and Padua Academy for everything it has done for her.
DeStasio has not let a battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) put out his competitive fire. He has continued as a wheelchair bowler even as the effects of the degenerative disease has become more pronounced.
He attended the banquet with his wife, Wendy, and relayed how he has told her over the past few years that he’s “half the man I used to be and twice the man I ever was.” He called his family, which includes his daughter Allison and son Michael, the real unsung heroes.
The Buddy Hurlock Award was presented by Bud and Jane Hurlock, the late writer’s parents. Jane Hurlock said it was an honor to be able to recognize the type of athletes her son really loved. Buddy Hurlock, an Archmere Academy graduate, died in May 2012 after an 18-month battle with brain cancer.