Monday, August 25, 2008

Delaware's press release

Text and photos courtesy of the University of Delaware

NEWARK, Del. – Elena DelleDonne, one of the most prolific high school
student-athletes in state history and the all-time leading scorer in
girls’ basketball during her career at Ursuline Academy in Wilmington,
has joined the University of Delaware volleyball program and is eligible
to compete for the Blue Hens in that sport this coming season.

The announcement was made in a press conference on Monday, Aug. 25, at
the Bob Carpenter Center.

DelleDonne, a high school All-American, had originally signed to play
basketball at the University of Connecticut and attended UConn for
several days in June before deciding to return home for personal
reasons. She made the decision in early August to apply to the
University of Delaware and was accepted as a full-time student on August
18. She will major in early childhood education at UD. The fall semester
begins Sept. 3.

“I would like to thank Coach Auriemma and the entire UConn family,” said
DelleDonne. “As I have said before, they deserve a 100 percent
commitment and I was unable to give that to them in the sport of
basketball. I have been open and honest with Coach Auriemma for the past
several months and there is nothing he was unaware of about my final
decision. I wish them nothing but success. He and his program are a
first-class operation. If I was going to play basketball, it would be at
UConn. It would be ridiculous for me to say I’ll never play again. I am
18 years old, so never would be an eternity. Basketball is just not part
of my life right now. I am at ease with my decision to attend the
University of Delaware and I am looking forward to starting classes and
following my mom’s path since she is a Blue Hen alum. I would also like
to thank the Delaware volleyball program. They have been so supportive
and over the last few days. It is comforting to know that I have been
welcomed into an extended family in such a short amount of time.”

DelleDonne has been practicing with the UD volleyball team since
Thursday, August 21 in preparation for the team’s opener Aug. 29 at the
University of California Fullerton Tournament. Since she joined the team
after August 1, she will attend UD as a non-scholarship member of the team.

Connecticut released DelleDonne from her scholarship earlier this month,
allowing her to play any sport at Delaware. NCAA rules prohibit her from
playing basketball due to transfer regulations. She has not decided
whether she will play basketball at Delaware.

“I would like to thank the University of Connecticut and coach Geno
Auriemma for granting Elena a release,” said Delaware women’s volleyball
head coach Bonnie Kenny, who enters her seventh season at Delaware this
fall. “No one in this room other than Elena and her family can
understand the magnitude of emotions and feelings that have occurred
over the past few months. The University of Delaware and its volleyball
program are the beneficiaries of her decision. I applaud Elena for being
mature and brave enough to come to the conclusion that this is where she
wants to be and this is what she wants to do. If I had any inclination
that Elena was going to play volleyball in college I would have been
recruiting her from day one. When I first talked to her mom and dad and
asked what do you want from us as a staff. They said ‘nothing we just
want her to be happy.’ We are aware that we have an elite
student-athlete in our gym and we are honored and humbled she has joined
us. From day one she has embraced us, and we have embraced her. She has
done everything we have asked with a smile on her face except when we do
triangle. My hope is that the entire state of Delaware will jump on the
train and support such a gifted student-athlete and the volleyball team
she is on.”

DelleDonne enjoyed one of the finest careers of any athlete in Delaware
high school history, starring for the Ursuline varsity squad since the
eighth grade and leading the volleyball team to the state title last
fall playing along with current UD teammate Megan Bonk. DelleDonne led
Ursuline to four state basketball titles and set the all-time state high
school girls scoring record with 2,818 points. A five-time All-State
basketball player, she was named the 2007-08 National Player of the Year
by the Naismith, McDonald’s, and Gatorade foundations. She was also a
National Honor Society student.

“We certainly respect Elena's decision and wish her well here at the
University of Delaware,” said Delaware women’s basketball head coach
Tina Martin. “The door to our basketball program will always be open to

At Delaware, she will battle for playing time at the middle hitter
position in volleyball and joins a team that is the favorite to win its
second straight Colonial Athletic Association title this fall. The Blue
Hens enjoyed one of their finest seasons in school history last season
when Kenny led her squad to a 31-5 record, the CAA regular season and
tournament titles, and the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament berth.
Delaware defeated Princeton in the first round before falling to host
St. John’s in the second round of the tournament.

According the University of Delaware Office of Admissions, this year the
University received 2,073 applications for transfer admission and will
enroll approximately 450 transfer students when classes start on Sept. 3.

DelleDonne is the daughter of Ernie and Joanie DelleDonne of Wilmington,
Del. Ernie is a 1979 graduate of Columbia University and Joanie is a
1980 graduate of the University of Delaware with a degree in special
education. She has an older sister, Elizabeth, and an older brother,
Gene, who plays tight end for the Middle Tennessee State University
football team.

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