Home Local Sports To Saint Mark’s volleyball coach Nancy Griskowitz, it’s all about her players

To Saint Mark’s volleyball coach Nancy Griskowitz, it’s all about her players

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Saint Mark's volleyball coach Nancy Griskowitz speaks at the Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association luncheon after receiving her award as the state's coach of the year. Dialog photo/Mike Lang

WILMINGTON — Nancy Griskowitz may have been the one at the microphone, but the longtime Saint Mark’s High School volleyball coach made sure everyone knew the reason why she was there.

Griskowitz received the Tubby Raymond Award as the state Coach of the Year, presented by the Delaware Sportwriters and Broadcasters Association at its annual luncheon, which was held Feb. 21 at the Dupont Country Club. Griskowitz became the first volleyball coach and the first coach from Saint Mark’s to receive the award, which was established in 2000.

“There are so many amazing coaches in our state, and I am truly honored to represent Saint Mark’s as this year’s recipient,” she said.

Griskowitz graduated from Saint Mark’s in 1985 and was a multiple-sport athlete for the Spartans. She was an assistant coach for her high school coach, Dave Stover, for nine seasons, and when Stover left to join the Charter School of Wilmington before the 1998 season, she was promoted to the top job. The Spartans won three titles under Stover, and the success continued after the transition.

Saint Mark’s won state championships in Griskowitz’s first four seasons. She now has nine overall and reached the final two other times. Five of her teams have finished undefeated. The Spartans are currently riding a 33-match winning streak, including the last two state championships.

The 2021 team finished 18-0 and lost just two sets all season. After falling to Friends in the first set of their match, the Spartans’ second of the season, they won 37 straight before dropping the second set at Ursuline in the regular-season finale. Both were by identical 25-23 scores.

In the most recent state tournament, Saint Mark’s swept through four matches. They captured the state championship with a 3-0 win over Padua as the teams met for the third consecutive final.

“It was an absolutely an amazing season, but honestly, those two sets, they really bothered me,” Griskowitz said during her acceptance speech. “To this day, they still haunt me. But looking back, I realize it was those setbacks that allowed us to refocus, re-evaluate and prepare better for the next match.”

Losing, she said, is a part of sports and life, “but if we can learn and grow from our losses, then they can become a valuable part of our success in the future. As a coach, that’s our responsibility, to make sure we are constantly growing and learning, and helping our team prepare to be successful every time they step on the court.”

She has been fortunate to coach at Saint Mark’s. Griskowitz cited the support she receives from the administration and parents, and she was sure to mention the student section that shows up at every home match. Part of the reason for the program’s success, she explained, is that team success always takes priority over individual accolades.

Her players work hard off the court and in the offseason. They push each other and celebrate each other’s successes.

“The student-athletes are the heart and soul of Saint Mark’s volleyball, and they are a huge reason I am standing here receiving this award today,” she said.

Coaching at any level is not easy, she said, but she looks forward to each season.

“Every year is filled with challenges because every team is different. That’s part of what makes coaching fun. Every year is a new beginning, an opportunity to create new lineups and see how well your team develops and plays well together.”

One of the other award winners has a Saint Mark’s connection. Tony Glenn is the longtime executive director of the Delaware Foundation Reaching Citizens with intellectual disabilities (EFRC). The organization sponsors the annual Blue-Gold football game at Delaware Stadium.

Glenn graduated from Conrad High School in 1973, and the Blue-Gold game was his first encounter with people with intellectual disabilities. For 29 years, he volunteered with DFRC, and he became the executive director 21 years ago before recently retiring. For many of those years while volunteering, he was a teacher at Saint Mark’s.

Other honorees included Betnijah Laney of the WNBA’s New York Liberty, the athlete of the year; the Delmar High School field hockey team, team of the year; and former Caesar Rodney High School and Wesley College athlete Alexis Howerin, who received the Buddy Hurlock Unsung Hero Award.

Since there was no luncheon in 2021, those winners also were recognized. The coach of the year last year was Jim Fischer, who leads Ursuline Academy’s cross country and track teams.