NEW CASTLE — One measure of a coach’s success is pretty black and white. Wins and losses. Arthur “Chip” Hannig has plenty of wins. In 19 years as the head swimming coach at Salesianum School, Hannig has led the Sals to 17 state championships.
Another way to gauge the success of a coach, particularly at the high school level, is to see the impact that person has on the young people he or she leads. It appears Hannig has that covered as well.
For his accomplishments over the past two decades, Hannig received the Tubby Raymond Award for 2019 after being named the state’s coach of the year by the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association. He was honored at the association’s annual luncheon on Feb. 17 at the Sheraton South Hotel in New Castle.
His Sallies teams have a dual-meet record of 119-22-1. Several of his current swimmers, along with some Salesianum alumni, were at the luncheon to support their coach.
“The number of people that came out today, I was amazed, shocked and honored,” said Hannig, 65. “My morning swim group was here; they had a whole table. I have a group of guys I go to Notre Dame with every fall. They were here. I had a table full of current swimmers and alumni swimmers, and I had some friends and other Salesianum people here. It meant a lot.”
During his remarks to the crowd, Hannig said he “was blown away” when he found out he had won the Raymond Award.
“It was totally unexpected. I’m honored and humbled. I have been blessed and very lucky.”
Much of the credit, he said, belongs to the people around him. He said his wife, Katie, does a lot of work behind the scenes to help the Salesianum program. His children, Arthur and Emily, also were on hand. He gave credit to his swimmers, their parents, and Salesianum administrators, faculty and staff.
“They have all been behind me in my role as the swim coach, so it’s always worked out well,” Hannig said.
He was a competitive runner before getting into swimming. Hannig once ran the Boston Marathon, but as injuries accumulated, he had to abandon that sport. He had been a swimmer at Salesianum, from which he graduated in 1972, and also at York College. He returned to the pool, and the coach at Brandywine High School asked him to help out.
“I said, ‘Well, let me think about it. I don’t know if I can do it.’ At the time – it was 27 years ago – I had two small children at home. I went home and talked to my wife about it,” he said.
Fortunately, the Brandywine team did not practice until 8 p.m., so Hannig was able to make that work with his schedule. Nearly three decades later, he’s still at it. Winning is a nice dividend, he admits, but there’s more that keeps him going.
“The No. 1 satisfaction I get out of coaching is you take these kids – they don’t have to be your club swimmers – just your average guy who comes out for the swim team, sometimes it’s the first time a guy ever swam,” he said. “You take this guy on day one, you see where he is, and you come to the end of February when we finish up and you see the strides and improvements he makes, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Four other awards were distributed at the luncheon. Ursuline Academy graduate Elena Delle Donne was named the winner of the John J. Brady Award as Delaware’s athlete of the year. She became the first four-time winner in its 71-year history.
Delle Donne, who is recuperating from back surgery and was unable to attend, won her second WNBA Most Valuable Player award for her effort in 2019. She led her team, the Washington Mystics, to the first league championship in franchise history despite missing a game in the finals with a bad back.
The 30-year-old averaged 19.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists for the Mystics. She shot a career-best 51.1 percent from the field, 43 percent on three-point attempts and 97.4 percent from the free throw line. Ursuline president Trisha Medeiros accepted the award on Delle Donne’s behalf.
The team of the year was Appoquinimink High School baseball. The Jaguars went 22-0, just the fourth undefeated team in the 50 years since the state tournament was established. Octavian Wilson, a Milford High School graduate, won the Buddy Hurlock Unsung Hero Award. Wilson overcame a heart condition that led to nerve damage in his brain and spinal cord. He contemplated suicide before becoming a standout receiver at Salisbury (Md.) University. And the Herm Reitzes Award for community service went to John Gretchen, who recently ended a 29-year tenure as the director of the Diamond State Classic, one of the premier high school basketball tournaments in the country for girls.