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Brooking takes over Sanford field hockey


12:09 AM, Jul. 12, 2013 EDT

For the second straight year, Joan Samonisky's phone call to a prominent coach to seek out candidates for a job vacancy has landed the Sanford School athletic director that very coach.

Anne Brooking, who has been varsity field hockey coach at Wilmington Friends during the last 25 years, will move to Independent Conference rival Sanford this season. She'll also be the Warriors' girls lacrosse coach next spring.

Brooking had decided to step down from her teaching position at Friends. Though she could have returned to coach the Quakers, "I wanted to give myself a chance to see what other things were out there," Brooking said. "I was retiring from teaching, though I hadn't lost my passion for coaching."

Last year, Samonisky called former University of Delaware cross country coach Jim Fischer with a similar inquiry, and Fischer ended up coaching Sanford runners.

"I've always admired Annie, and we've been good friends for a lot of years," said Samonisky, whose University of Delaware athletic career preceded Brooking's by a couple of years. "For us to get a person of Annie's caliber is really a bonus for both programs."

While Tower Hill has often ruled Independent Conference field hockey, last year Friends unseated the Hillers as league champs.

Sanford, however, hasn't reached the state hockey tournament or had a winning record since 2008, the year before Samonisky stepped down after a successful 22-year stint as coach. The Warriors have not beaten Friends, Tatnall or Tower Hill at all the last three years.

"The challenge is to redirect and revitalize Sanford's field hockey and lacrosse programs," Brooking said. "They've had a tremendous tradition in there with Nancy Sawin, Jackie Pitts, Janet Smith and Joan Samonisky."

Sawin, who died in 2008 at age 90, had been a national-level field hockey player and an administrator, teacher and coach at Sanford, which was founded by her mother and named after her brother. She was in the inaugural class for the U.S. Field Hockey Hall of Fame.

Pitts, now 75, still teaches math at Sanford and played for and coached the U.S. national team in lacrosse. Smith and Pitts are both U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductees.

Brooking played for Pitts on the U.S. team in the early 1980s after having also played for the U.S. in field hockey. A Tatnall graduate, Brooking played both sports at West Chester, where she won a national field hockey title. She transferred to Delaware, where she won three national titles in lacrosse for Smith.

Brooking replaces Katlin Harker as Sanford hockey coach and Melissa Waters in lacrosse. Both stepped down for personal and professional reasons. Friends has not yet hired a new hockey coach.

Schweitzer mourned

Bob Schweitzer was a popular economics and finance professor at the University of Delaware, where he was hired in 1980 and rose to become department chairman. Schweitzer was also a strong supporter of UD athletic teams, and could often be seen decked out in blue and gold at the Carpenter Center or Delaware Stadium.

But Schweitzer, who was 63 when he died of cancer last week, was also a familiar sight to Delaware high school boys lacrosse followers. The Baltimore native refereed lacrosse at the high school and college levels for 40 years.

His influence, knowledge and enthusiasm played a part in the sport's rise to prominence in Delaware over the past 30 years. He was long-time chairman of the DIAA boys lacrosse committee and the state rules interpreter. Thirty years ago, Delaware had three high school boys lacrosse programs. Now it has 43.

"It's very likely the sport of lacrosse wouldn't have evolved the way it did in Delaware were it not for Bob Schweitzer," said DIAA executive director Kevin Charles.

Finishing touches

Point guard Jocelyn Rodriguez, who helped lead St. Elizabeth to the 2013 DIAA girls basketball state championship, has signed to play basketball at Wilmington University . . . Newark football expects to get a boost from the addition of Ben Campbell, a quarterback who'll be a junior this season. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Campbell moved to Newark from Hershey, Pa., where he started for the Milton Hershey School last fall. He played baseball for the Yellowjackets this spring . . . Matthew Cleary, the 2013 DIAA individual state golf champion as a freshman at Tower Hill, has been selected to participate in the International Junior Golf Tour's Euro Cup July 31-Aug. 2 in St. Andrews, Scotland. Cleary, 15, will be one of 14 players to compete for IJGT Team USA against the Canadian Junior Golf Association and a team from Scotland. The competition will include rounds at Scotscraig, Leven and Drumoig golf clubs.

 

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