Sanford’s current athletic director, Joan Samonisky, and former men’s athletic director, Chip Mayo, earned special recognition on April 10 at the state meeting of the Delaware Association of Athletic Directors (DAAD).
At a luncheon ceremony in the beautiful new 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Samonisky was presented with the prestigious National Interscholastic Athletic Administrator Association’s (NIAAA) Award of Merit for the state of Delaware. This is the organization’s highest state-level award and is presented annually to a NIAAA member who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, meritorious service, and achievement in the vocation of interscholastic administration. It should be noted that Samonisky is the first female athletic administrator in Delaware to receive this award in 18 years.
“I am honored to be recognized by the state athletic directors with the NIAAA Award,” shared Samonisky. “I feel fortunate to have enjoyed a career in education as a teacher, coach, and athletic director. I hope that my contributions to Sanford School and to high school athletics in Delaware have been meaningful. I also feel blessed to be supported so strongly by the Sanford School administration and community and to be associated with the outstanding group of athletic administrators and educators in the DAAD.”
For 31 years Samonisky has served Sanford’s student-athletes and coaches as an athletic director. She was also the head variety field hockey coach for 22 years and assisted as middle and upper school lacrosse and basketball coach. Working with her department colleagues, Samonisky has helped Sanford’s boys’ and girls’ high school basketball teams become two of the top programs in the state.
As a leader in high school athletics, Samonisky served on the DIAA Board of Directors, and she was also a member of the DIAA Field Hockey State Tournament Committee for over 25 years. At the present time, she is a member of the DIAA Sportsmanship Committee and the DAAD Board of Directors. At the national level, Samonisky was a member of the NFHS Field Hockey Rules Committee.
A three-sport athlete at Concord High School, Samonisky went on to become a two-sport standout athlete at the University of Delaware, where she captained both the softball and field hockey teams. Named the school’s 1979 Female Athlete of the Year, Samonisky was inducted into the University of Delaware’s Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005. A competitive golfer, she is also a two-time Delaware Women’s State Amateur Champion.
Like Samonisky, Mayo enjoyed a long tenure at Sanford—spending 35 of his 41 years in education at the school. For his commitment to interscholastic athletics and the contributions he made to the field, Mayo was inducted into the fourth class of DAAD’s Hall of Fame, joining only a handful of athletic directors who have previously earned this unique and special distinction.
Regarding his honor, Mayo stated: “I am extremely humbled and honored to be recognized by my peers for this very prestigious award. While at Sanford School, I was extremely fortunate to be surrounded by amazing people like Joan Samonisky and Stan Waterman, as well as the very special relationships I developed with other athletic directors throughout the state. I offer a sincere thank you to the DAAD for this very kind and appreciated recognition.”
At various times during the course of his career at Sanford, Mayo served as head coach for the 7/8th grade boys’ basketball, soccer, and baseball teams. At the high-school level, he was the school’s varsity golf coach for 27 years, boys’ soccer coach for 18 years, and varsity baseball coach for 7 years.
Under Mayo’s leadership, Sanford’s athletic teams enjoyed successes at the conference and state levels. The boys’ tennis team won a state championship, and the basketball teams began their competitive, and successful, runs to numerous state tournament titles.
Mayo served the Delaware athletic community as a DSSAA/DIAA member, where he was the former chairperson of the state soccer tournament. He was on the state golf and officials committees.
Sanford School is fortunate to have a dedicated, career educator in the role of athletic director. Our student-athletes, coaches, and families are appreciative of the way in which Joan Samonisky and former athletic director Chip Mayo act as positive role models and mentors for our community.
Congratulations to both of these educators for the honors that they so deservedly received from their professional organizations.