Delaware’s Basketball Star Elena Delle Donne

The Windy City may have her now, but we had her first. As Delle Donne continues her legendary basketball career, local fans will continue to root for their hometown hero.


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Hair by Jessica Till, makeup by Emma Coates both of Gloss Salon, Newark (www.glosssalon.net) Photo by Ron DubickThough we have loved to call her our own since her standout grade school hoops career, it’s time for Delaware to share Elena Delle Donne with the folks she really belongs with: The Women’s National Basketball Association. 

On Monday, April 15, the Chicago Sky announced Delle Donne as the No. 2 first-round draft pick to complement an already stacked roster. Ranked as the nation’s top senior during her 2008 (and fourth consecutive) championship season at Ursuline Academy and the state’s first All-American representative during her stellar Blue Hen career, the 6-foot-5 forward was second in the nation in scoring (26.0) and averaged 8.5 rebounds. She finished her career at Delaware with 3,039 career points, which puts her as the fifth all-time scorer in NCAA history.

"This is a phenomenal team I'm joining, mentors who will help me out along the way," Delle Donne said in an interview with the Associated Press. "I'll learn a ton from these players. We definitely have a great team. I felt I was a good puzzle piece for this team. You don't say where you want to go before it was happening, but Chicago was my pick and I wanted to go there really badly."

The journey from her legendary five-year career at Ursuline – where she was dubbed the state’s Player of the Year, the Naismith and McDonald’s foundations’ National Player of the Year and various other POY awards while setting the national high school consecutive free throw record – to UD’s Sweet Sixteen playoff appearance was not without its hiccups or back-road detours.

Her two-day stint as a top recruit at NCAA powerhouse UConn made for an uncertain athletic future for the freshman, who temporarily filled the sports void as a member of the University of Delaware’s volleyball team. There, she was selected to the CAA All-Rookie Team, earned three CAA Rookie of the Week awards and led Delaware with 117 blocks and ranked second on the team with a .223 hitting percentage. Not bad, but ultimately, not enough for Delle Donne.

Volleyball ended, and in January, UD women’s basketball coach Tina Martin received a call from John Noonan, the Ursuline coach and Delle Donne’s personal coach, saying the recruit would like to meet with her. The meeting took place in Martin’s office at 8 a.m. on the day of UD’s home game against Drexel. A couple of weeks later, Delle Donne texted Martin to ask if she could come in to the Bob Carpenter Center gym and shoot. “She said she missed basketball a little, but still wasn’t sure about coming back,” Martin says.

In April 2009, just after the season ended, the 19-year-old came to Martin’s office and said she wanted to put to rest the rumors that she planned to transfer. “She told me she loved Delaware, she was happy here and she wasn’t leaving,” says the coach.  A month later, Delle Donne joined the team.

Now, her accomplishments as a Blue Hen read as long and tall as her fellow recruits, but only time will tell how those milestones could potentially pale in comparison to those reached with the Chicago Sky. If you can bet on one thing, it’s this: You won’t see her kind again anytime soon, and certainly not on a return trip home.

This article used sources from the Associated Press and  University of Delaware's Women's Basketball

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February 2018

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Cost: Free with Museum admission

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Delaware Art Museum
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Sponsor: American Association of University Women
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Delaware Theatre Company
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Crooked Hammock Brewery
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Sponsor: Crooked Hammock Brewery
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Loudis Recital Hall
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Telephone: 302-629-6611 x2288
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Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
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This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

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Faith Victory Christian Center
301 Commonwealth Avenue
Claymont, DE  19703
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Sponsor: Faith Victory Christian Center
Telephone: 302.354.6726
Contact Name: Alvin Walker
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Cost: Free

Where:
Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark
420 Willa Road
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: UUFN
Telephone: 302.368.2984
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Cost: $15 adults; $10 UD faculty/staff/alumni & seniors; $5 students

Where:
Gore Recital Hall
110 Orchard Rd
Newark, DE  19716
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Sponsor: University of Delaware Department of Music
Telephone: 130-283-12578
Contact Name: Megan Everhart
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Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
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View map »


Website »

More information

Francesca Russello Ammon will explore the decades following World War II when rapid growth and construction in the United States coincided with a time of large-scale destruction. This author talk...

Cost: Free

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Hagley Museum Soda House
298 Buck Road
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Sponsor: Hagley Museum and Library
Telephone: 302-658-2400
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Cost: Free

Where:
Hagley Museum Soda House
298 Buck Road
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Telephone: 302-658-2400
Contact Name: Carol Lockman
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Cost: Free

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Cokesbury Village
726 Loveville Rd
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Sponsor: Cokesbury Village Residents Association
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Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free to Members, $5 per child and one adult free for Non-Members

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Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Delaware Art Museum
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Delaware Center for Horticulture
1810 N. Dupont Street
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Cost: Free. Voluntary donations.

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Aldersgate United Methodist Church
2301 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE  19803
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Sponsor: Aldersgate Youth Players
Telephone: 302-478-2575
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Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
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The Ruby Stanley One-Act Festival is a Drama League tradition.  Join us for a fun evening of one-act plays, and vote for your favorite to represent us at the regional festival.  Performances are...

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10 West Lea Blvd.
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Cokesbury Village White Elephant Sale March 2nd & 3rd, 2018 Furniture, clothing, jewelry, china, kitchenware, tools, appliances, pictures and picture frames, luggage, lamps, and books.

Cost: Free

Where:
Cokesbury Village
726 Loveville Rd
Hockessin, DE  19707
View map »


Sponsor: Cokesbury Village Residents Association
Telephone: 302-235-8578
Contact Name: John Prince

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Kalmar Nyckel Foundation
1124 E. 7th Street
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This community-curated exhibition brings together three painters—Alan Soffer, Brian Dickerson, and Moe Brooker—who are attuned to harmonies and contrasts in abstract forms. Each artist...

Cost: Free with Museum admission

Where:
Delaware Art Museum
2301 Kentmere Parkway
Wilmington, DE  19806
View map »


Website »

More information

Based on the Dreamworks animated film, the adventures and antics of NYC zoo animals who escape and end up in Madagascar. Enjoy this rollicking youth musical.  Friday March 2nd at 7:00 p.m.,...

Cost: Free. Voluntary donations.

Where:
Aldersgate United Methodist Church
2301 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE  19803
View map »


Sponsor: Aldersgate Youth Players
Telephone: 302-478-2575
Contact Name: Church office staff
Website »

More information

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Cost: $10.00

Where:
Wilmington Drama League
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Sponsor: Wilmington Drama League
Telephone: 302-764-1172
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