Two ex-NFL players among Delaware Sports Hall of Fame 2023 inductees. Meet the new members
Two former National Football League players from First State high schools will be among the nine 2023 inductees to the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame.
Newark High graduate Kwame Harris, who was later a first-round San Francisco 49ers draft pick, and Concord alum Paul Worrilow, an undrafted linebacker who became one of the NFL’s top tacklers, will be honored May 18.
They are joined by golfer Chris Anderson, NCAA champion shot-putter Christina Hillman, official and women’s sports advocate Ruth Lajoie, swimmer Ray Peden, sprinter and hurdler Ginger Smith, boxer Joe Tiberi and roller skating champion Charles Wahlig.
The Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame is located at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington. The 47th hall of fame banquet is slated for May 18 across the street at the Chase Center on the Riverfront.
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Tickets are $75 each with tables of eight available for $550. They may be purchased at www.desports.org/events or by mailing a check to DSMHOF, 801 Shipyard Drive, Wilmington, DE 19801. Social hour, silent auction and memorabilia display begin at 5:30 p.m. followed by the dinner and ceremony at 6:45.
Here is a breakdown of the 2023 inductees.
Golf Digest named Anderson one of Delaware’s top three all-time golfers along with Porky Oliver and Dave Douglas. As an A. I. du Pont High freshman, Anderson won the Delaware Junior championship in 1977. He then won the Delaware Open a record seven times from 1983 through 2004 and is the only Delawarean to win the Philadelphia Amateur in its 125-year history. He turned pro in 1984 after graduating from the University of Virginia. Anderson won the 1991 Founders Club Match Play Championship at PGA National Golf Club. He joined the Ben Hogan Tour in 1992 and won the Variety Club Tournament of Champions of Philadelphia and was second in a playoff in the Fort Wayne Open. He also played on the Canadian PGA Tour in 1988 and qualified for the 1996 PGA championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville. After resuming his amateur status, Anderson won the Delaware Amateur in 2005.
Major college football coaches rarely visited Delaware until Harris emerged as a four-year, two-way standout on Newark’s teams from 1996-99, the last three being state Division I champions. He was first-team All-State three times and state Offensive Player of the Year as a senior, the first lineman so honored. Recruited by all of the country’s college football powers, the 6-foot-7, 320-pound Harris went to Stanford, where he was a three-year starter and Morris Trophy winner as the top Pac-10 offensive lineman as a junior, when he declared for the NFL draft. He was chosen 26th overall by the 49ers. Harris played in 86 NFL games with 55 starts in six seasons, the last with Oakland.
Hillman won three discus and three shot put state outdoor titles at St. Thomas More, as well as Penn Relays and New Balance Indoor Nationals titles. At Iowa State, she was a seven-time All-American, highlighted by her 2014 indoor and outdoor NCAA championships in the shot put. She also won Big 12 indoor and outdoor shot put titles in 2014 and won indoors again in 2016. Hillman also placed second and fourth (indoors) and fourth and sixth twice (outdoors) at NCAAs. Her Iowa State shot put record (59 feet 6¾ inches) still stands, as does her 49-1 Delaware high school mark.
LaJoie is a long-time official in field hockey and basketball who remains active in both sports and has advocated for women’s sports and those involved. She received the Delaware Pathfinder Award in 2006 from the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport and the DIAA State Award for Outstanding Service from the National Federation of High School Sports in 2017. The Penns Grove (New Jersey) High graduate played field hockey, basketball, lacrosse and tennis at West Chester and made the U.S. Reserve team in field hockey. She is a West Chester Athletic Hall of Fame inductee. LaJoie helped launch girls track and field as a high school sport in Delaware in 1971, created a pioneering sportsmanship award as head of the Delaware Board of Women’s Basketball Referees and, while coaching basketball at Conrad, successfully sought equal pay for coaches of boys and girls teams.
The captain of Salesianum’s first state championship swim team in 1973 went on to set 42 pool records at York College before becoming a champion open-water swimmer. With the Wilmington Aquatic Club as his base, Peden set the American record in the 26.2-mile marathon swim in 1984 and became only the second Delawarean, and 288th person, to swim the English Channel in 1986. In 2004, he was third (45-49 age group) in the U.S. Masters open water race. Peden was on the first relay team to swim from Cape Henlopen to Cape May across the Delaware Bay, was men's champ of the 12.5-mile Ocean Water Swim Around Key West, Florida, in 2010, and, five years later, was the 2.5-kilometer champion in the 60-64 age group in the U.S. Masters Open Water National Championships. The 29-year state police officer received the Order of the First State, Delaware’s highest civilian honor, in 1996.
Smith, the first Delaware woman to run at the Penn Relays in 1964, then became Delaware’s first runner to qualify for the Olympic Trials that summer, doing so as a 16-year-old and making the finals in the 80-meter hurdles and 100-, 200- and 400-meter dashes. At the rain-soaked 1966 Penn Relays, she anchored Tower Hill to the high school championship in the 4 x 100-yard relay and won the 440-yard dash in 58.9 seconds. Later that summer, she led the Delaware Track and Field Club to the Middle Atlantic title by winning the 80 hurdles, 440 and 4 x 100 relay. Stanford University did not have a women’s track team when she was there so Smith competed for the Millbrae Lions Track Team and won the California 100-yard championship in 1967.
Tiberi had an amateur boxing record of 44-4-2 with 31 knockouts followed by a professional mark of 18-5-2 with 13 knockouts during the 1970s and ‘80s. He fought eight undefeated boxers, beating five. That included knocking out New England welterweight champion Fernando Fernandez at the Boston Garden and North Philadelphia's Mike “Youngblood” Williams on ESPN. After his competitive career, Tiberi became a successful trainer.
The late Wahlig is the only triple USA Roller Sports Hall of Fame inductee, honored as an athlete, coach and for distinguished service. He began winning national competitions in the 1950s, taking USA National Senior Dance and National Speed Skating championships in 1957 and the Senior Dance title with a new partner in 1958. He was second in the World speed competition in New Zealand in 1959. He then coached over 1,000 state, regional, national and world champions after moving to Delaware in 1970 and was U.S. Pan American Games coach in 1979. He later served as president of USA Roller Sports, was on the USA Roller Skating Board of Directors and International Federation of Roller Skating Speed Skating Committee and owned three Delaware roller rinks.
Worrilow was first-team All-State on both offense and defense, sparked Concord to the 2006 Division II state title and was state Defensive Player of the Year in 2007. But he received only Division II recruiting interest and, after one junior college season in which he red-shirted, walked on at the University of Delaware. Worrilow became a four-year starter and All-American linebacker for the Blue Hens, graduating fifth in UD history with 377 career tackles. Undrafted, he signed with the Atlanta Falcons in 2013 and made more tackles than all but four NFL players his first two seasons. Worrilow played in the Super Bowl for Atlanta and spent time with Detroit, Philadelphia and the Jets. In 76 career NFL games, including 52 starts, he made 415 tackles, forced four fumbles, recovered four and had two interceptions.
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This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Delaware Sports Hall of Fame to add 2 former NFL players in 2023