How a Delawarean engineered the Fightin' Phils' big deal. Plus, Homeland Security takes a very close look at Wilmington U., the next Elena Delle Donne?, and more.
Phillies assistant GM Scott Proefrock of Wilmington helped bring superstar Cliff Lee back to Philadelphia, thus creating a starting pitching lineup that some say may be the greatest of all time.
DT: What was your role in the signing?
SP: I know his agent (Darek Braunecker) on a personal basis. Last year I don’t think anyone wanted Cliff to leave. I sent messages wishing Cliff well over the course of the year into the playoffs. After the World Series was over, Darek and I touched base. The bottom line was Cliff wanted to come back here. It created potentially one of the greatest rotations of all time. It’s a special group.
DT: The Phils have also recently lured Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt. Why does everybody seem to want to play in Philly?
SP: It truly has become a destination. As Cliff said, it’s different than any other place. I look out my window on a Tuesday afternoon in May, it’s mid-day, and they’re tailgating. It’s a football atmosphere. The support of the fans has been unbelievable. I think everything this organization does is to reward our fans for their support.
DT: How did you wind up with the Phillies?
SP: (Then-assistant Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.) and I had had interaction at GMs meetings. We had a relationship. I wouldn’t say were best buddies, but we had a mutual respect. I had a strong comfort level and a great deal of respect for him. During the World Series in ’08, I was rooting for Tampa because of my ties with them. I got a text from Ruben that morning before Game 4. I was going to the game and he wanted to talk to me. We met on the third or fourth deck behind my seats. He asked if I would be interested in coming to the Phillies if he was named GM. One thing about this organization—they treat employees first-class all the way. I’ve been made to feel a part of everything. Ruben gave me the opportunity to handle arbitrations and negotiate contracts. I’ve just been part of what Ed Wade, Pat Gillick, Ruben and the others have established here.
DT: What’s been your greatest accomplishment so far with the Phillies?
SP: Helping to bring Cliff Lee back to Philadelphia. We still have to play the games obviously, but it truly set us up for short-term and long-term success.
DT: How did you wind up in Delaware?
SP: My wife (the former K.K. Keegan) graduated from Ursuline Academy. Her parents live in Wilmington. It’s a long story (about a lawsuit involving their home in Baltimore), but my in-laws have been gracious enough to let us stay with them.
DT: Sorry to get so personal. We just wanted to make sure it’s OK with you that we’re claiming you as a Delawarean.
SP: That’s fine. You’ll make my in-laws happy. They’re a longtime Delaware family. Jim Keegan, my father-in-law, he’s like the mayor of Wilmington. I can’t go anywhere where he doesn’t know five or six people. It’s quite a family. I’m blessed to be a part of it.
DT: Are they Phillies fans?
SP: My understanding is that they’ve always been Phillies fans. Their whole family is very sports-oriented. Jim knows Dallas Green through charitable efforts over the years. They’re also friendly with the Carpenters. My sister-in-law works with Ruly right now. There’s always been a connection.
DT: Is it good or bad that your wife is a Phillies fan?
SP: It’s a good thing. She always brings me back to earth. She says, ‘You’re not saving lives.’ One thing with my job—and K.K. has known it since we started dating in Atlanta—she understands the travel because she’s a sports fan.
DT: What are your favorite restaurants in Delaware?
SP: The one restaurant I go to regularly is Kid Shelleen’s. I spend a lot of time on 202, so I go to the Charcoal Pit.
DT: Have you encountered autograph-seekers here?
SP (laughing): They would have to throw out whatever I autographed because it will probably be worth less than it was before I signed it. I doubt my signature is worth anything, except maybe on a contract.
DT: Will (former Blue Rock) Mike Sweeney be back this season?
SP: We had interest in bringing him back as a non-roster invite. I know Ruben has had dealings with his agent. Mike is a great person. He had a great career. He really enjoyed being here last year. I can’t tell you how many times he hugged me when we won the division series last season.
DT: Ever had any run-ins with the Phanatic?
SP: Nothing that has caused me a personal injury.
DT: It seems a lot of what you do goes unsung. Is that true?
SP: I prefer it that way. I like to keep as low a profile as possible. It’s not about what I do. It’s about putting a team together and in a situation where they can succeed. We’re all facilitators for the players. We create the best environment, the best lineup and turn them over to Charlie Manuel and the staff. It’s a great formula here.
DT: You’re in a great position with the Phillies right now, but do you have higher aspirations down the road?
SP: I believe that if you do your job and do it well, all of that takes care of itself. I’m very happy here and I’d be happy here for a long time to come.
DT: Who’s older, you or Jamie Moyer?
SP (laughing): I’m a little bit older than Jamie—two years. I think he just turned 48 last year.
DT: So is it another World Series title for the Fightins this year?
SP: We have raised the bar to where, if we are unable to do that, everyone will be disappointed. —Drew Ostroski
Page 2: Delaware's Most Wanted? | Homeland Security is more than mildly interested in a group of Wilmington University students.
Delaware’s Most Wanted?
Homeland Security is more than mildly interested in a group of Wilmington University students.
Aaron Hampton, Mike Pancoast, David Konopka and Mike Logue—aka Team Name—rocked the latest Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center Digital Forensic Challenge, placing first in the undergraduate category—fifth in the world—among the 1,040 teams from 53 countries that were trying to find mock breaches in cyber security. “These students have no idea what they’ve done,” says Mark Hufe, chair of WU’s Computer and Network Security degree program. “They’re under the spotlight with the FBI, NSA and Homeland Security, but for all the right reasons.” The team scored a free trip to the 2011 U.S. Department of Defense Cyber Crime Conference in January. After a team from Wilmington U. won the same challenge in 2010, two students scored jobs as senior forensics specialists at the Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center. The same may be in store for members of Team Name. (Computer and network security is the second fastest-growing occupation in the country.) Blocking hackers is an important skill, but what most techs want to crack is steganography, the practice of embedding secret messages in other messages—a skill Osama bin Laden and other terrorists have mastered. “The future looks promising for our students,” says Hufe. “Their skills mean jobs, jobs, jobs.” —Maria Hess
Page 3: Index | Wilmington Saint Patrick's Day Parade
Wilmington Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
Stenciled beer mugs ordered in 2010
Stenciled beer mugs purchased
Half-kegs tapped at post-parade party
Time to consume, in hours
Wilmington Police officers on patrol
Number of fights in 36 years
Local Irish dance schools
Participants during 1993 blizzard
Distance marched in 1993, in feet
City blocks marched
Participants expected this year
Page 4: Doing Good | A Turn on the Catwalk
A Turn on the Catwalk
J. Christian Studio in Hockessin makes community service a central part of its mission. Hosting four charity events a year, the salon will hold its annual Crazy Catwalk for Kidds event this month. This will be the second year that all proceeds from this fashion extravaganza will go toward Supporting Kidds, which provides help and encouragement to children of grieving families. “This was high on the food chain from the day we opened our doors,” salon owner J. Christian says of the company’s philanthropy. “It’s a chance to bring people and the community together.” Employees of J. Christian do everything from book the venue to style the models’ hair and makeup. The event itself is an overall collaborative effort, made possible entirely by volunteer staff, along with auction items and raffle prizes donated by local businesses. Christian aims to exceed last year’s fundraising total of $13,000. More information about J. Christian’s Catwalk for Kidds is available through its website, jchristianstudio.com, or by phone at 235-2306. —Katherine DiMaggio
Page 5: One Thing I've Learned | Quincy Lucas domestic violence awareness and prevention activist
One Thing I’ve Learned
Quincy Lucas, domestic violence awareness and prevention activist
I’ve learned the importance of awareness and empowerment. No longer can we afford to stand by and watch the ills of society take dominance. No longer can we simply say, “It’s not my problem.” As stakeholders in our communities, we must make it a priority to become aware of societal issues and to commit to being part of the solution instead of the problem.
Page 6: Delebrity Bibliography | Mary Ann Ehlshlager (Executive Director, Delaware Theatre Company)
Mary Ann Ehlshlager
Executive Director, Delaware Theatre Company
A Prayer for Owen Meany | John Irving
A dwarfish boy with a strange voice believes he is an instrument of God, to be redeemed by martyrdom.
Ehlshlager This novel rewards persistence. As a young reader, I got bogged down in the exposition in the first half and almost gave up. But as the novel builds, every one of those expository threads is woven into a can’t-put-the-book-down climax. So I love this book not just for the richness of the characters and the power of the plot, but for teaching me to be a better reader.
Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America | James Webb
The history of the Scots-Irish over the past 2,000 years.
Ehlshlager I have spent many hours in genealogical research, studying my German and Scots-Irish roots, but have found few sources as pleasantly readable as this one. Webb skillfully connects the dots between the Battle of Culloden, Daniel Boone, NASCAR and contemporary American politics.
The Circus in Winter | Cathy Day
The secret lives and loves of circus people and their descendants.
Ehlshlager I am coulrophobic, that is, afraid of clowns. This charming novel following generations of circus life in a small town in Indiana spoke to me about life in the theater and reminded me that home is where the art is.
Going After Cacciato | Tim O’Brien
A private deserts his post in Vietnam, intent on walking to Paris for peace talks.
Ehlshlager When I was in school, it seemed that U.S. history stopped on V-J Day, and so I was taught very little about Vietnam. Tim O’Brien’s books, then, have been a great addition to the home library. This one resonates with the authenticity of a memoir while embracing a magical realism that I really didn’t expect from a war novel.
The Great Gatsby | F. Scott Fitzgerald
A portrait of the Jazz Age.
Ehlshlager I love to go back to this one and envision it anew each time, mentally casting a different Daisy or imaging a different layout for the grounds of Gatsby’s mansion. The dock light, the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg—there’s just so much to work with as a reader.
Page 7: The Next Elena Delle Donne? | Hoopster Betnijah Laney may be flying under the radar, but there’s no doubt this Eagle is flying high.
Hoopster Betnijah Laney may be flying under the radar, but there’s no doubt this Eagle is flying high.
She’s not getting the fanfare that Elena Delle Donne did, but Betnijah Laney is still creating big buzz in basketball circles. The Smyrna High senior has caught the eye of the nation’s top recruiters, having been scouted by the likes of powerhouses UConn and Rutgers. And no wonder—Laney scored more than 1,000 points during her first two seasons at Smyrna, and she set the state single-game scoring record for high school girls with 52 points. The 6-foot guard-forward was named Delaware Player of the Year in 2010, as well as Delaware’s Gatorade Player of the Year, when the Lady Eagles played in the state championship game for the first time in school history. Laney’s dominance has folks comparing her to the state’s all-time best. “She’s definitely in the top group,” says Andy Walter, sports editor at the Delaware State News in Dover. “It’s hard to compare anybody with Elena and Khadijah Rushdan. You’re talking about two kids that people started talking about in grade school and they were in Wilmington, where they get more attention. But Betnijah is right there as far as dominating games.” Laney is expected to announce her college choice in April. She has narrowed her list to Rutgers, Duke and Oklahoma. After college, Laney hopes to play in the WNBA. For now her focus is on leading the Eagles into the state tournament and savoring the last few games of her high school career. “I will be a little sad at the end of the season, but not too sad because I’m moving on to the next level,” Laney says. “I’ll miss my teammates, coach, and all the great times we had together.” —Kelley Cole