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Archive for the ‘Points of Pride’ Category

Worth Her Weight in Gold

Brittany Heysler believes in accountability.

Brittany at the Ontario County Safety Training headquarters.

The criminology and criminal justice major just completed an extensive project to help Ontario County’s STOP-DWI office research and document a list of unpaid DWI fines dating back to 1986. It turns out nearly a quarter million dollars is owed to the county by some 156 individuals convicted of DWI charges.

On Oct. 31, each defendant was sent a certified letter to their last known address – carefully researched by Heysler. But to ensure no stone went unturned, the full list of delinquent fines, with names, year of conviction and case numbers, was published by the Daily Messenger newspaper in Canandaigua a week later. WHEC-Channel 8 in Rochester also broadcast the launch of “Operation Personal Responsibility,” highlighting Heysler’s work. Those with delinquent fines have 60 days to pay in full or arrange a payment plan with the STOP-DWI office before court action begins to collect what they owe.

STOP-DWI Administrator Sue Cirencione said her office has already collected $8,000 of the total $238,533 unpaid in the first week of the public phase. Cirencione, a Keuka College Class of ‘96 graduate herself, took the helm of the STOP-DWI office in May after 10 years as a probation officer for Ontario County. She said coming in, she knew recovering unpaid fines was a significant need, given fines fund the program budget. Such a time-intensive project would probably take Cirencione alone a year or more, given the many responsibilities of her new post, she said.

Instead, Cirencione knew it would be the perfect project for an intern. Enter Heysler.

As a senior criminology and criminal justice major, Heysler is required to complete a full-semester internship of 490 hours. She already boasted three previous internships at the Sherrill, N.Y. police department in her hometown; the Oneida Tribal Indian Nation police near Canastota; and with the U.S. Marshals office in Syracuse. That’s because the Keuka College Field Period™ program requires every undergraduate to devote at least 140 hours a year to a hands-on internship, cultural study, artistic endeavor or spiritual exploration.

“When I met Brittany, I knew right away she’d be great and she’d be able to tackle this,” said Cirencione.

Eager to “take charge of a project of my own and make a difference for the county,” Heysler said she began digging through the data, spending Aug. 25 – Oct. 29 building and refining the list. She removed the names of those who had passed away, any youthful offenders, and any who had made even sporadic payments. She also ran checks on all 156 names to see if they had a valid license or any other judgment filed against them. Ultimately, the list of delinquent fines represents those who never made an effort to pay what they owed. (more…)

Gerber Completes Transformation to Potent Goal Scorer

From the moment he walked onto the Keuka College campus, the soccer talents of Austin Gerber (Churchville, N.Y./Churchville-Chili) were immediately apparent to head coach Matt Tantalo.

Gerber, who played sweeper in high school, scored only two goals during his time as a Churchville-Chili Saint. He wasn’t heavily recruited by area colleges, as only Keuka College and Medaille College expressed any interest in the tall, athletic, speedy Gerber.

Gerber eventually opted to play soccer for the Wolfpack and to study business/accounting at Keuka, and four years later, Gerber has turned himself into the most lethal goal scorer in the country.

Gerber is the leading goal (26) and point (58) scorer among all student-athletes who compete in Divisions I, II and III, and he has led the Wolfpack (11-4-1, 7-2-1 NEAC) into the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) semifinals as the tournament’s No. 3 seed.

Maybe that is why Gerber was tapped as one of six athletes from across the country who will be featured in the Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd section, which can be found online beginning today, Monday, Nov. 10 at The print edition of the magazine will go out starting Wednesday and is typically delivered to subscribers in New York state Thursday, so look for it soon.

“Leading the country in goals scored is a tremendous honor, and its that much sweeter that I can have this successful season while my team is winning a lot of games, too,” said the humble Gerber, who was named the NEAC’s Player of the Year after his record-breaking campaign.

“It’s a dream come true for me to win games and also have my success scoring goals. With the team I have around me, they’ve been behind me the whole season, feeding me the ball anytime they get the chance and I couldn’t thank them enough for this year. My teammates are the reason why I’ve been able to accomplish what I’ve been able to accomplish.”

While Tantalo recognized Gerber’s vast potential early on, there was no way that the longtime head coach could have predicted Gerber’s record-breaking  senior season that has sparked Keuka to its winningest regular season since 2008 (12-4-2).

Gerber, a four-time All-NEAC forward, has rewritten the men’s soccer record book during the 2014 season. Gerber broke Keuka’s single-season goals and points records, and during a 6-1 triumph over Penn State-Berks (Oct. 24), Gerber broke the single-game scoring record, recording five goals (including four tallies in a span of 18:55 in the second half) in the win.

Gerber is one of five Division III student-athletes to score five goals in a game, and one of just seven at any level of NCAA competition to reach that milestone.

The scoring outburst was Gerber’s second time scoring four or more goals in a game this year — he also scored four goals with an assist during a win over D’Youville College on Aug. 30 — and the fourth game with four or more goals in his illustrious career.

For Tantalo, seeing Gerber shatter school records while leading his team into the postseason is validation that his soft-spoken senior leader has completed his transformation from holding midfielder (primarily a defensive position) to the most prolific scoring threat in the country.

“When Austin first got here, he definitely wasn’t a goal scorer. While we knew he had to potential to be very good, he was a pass-first guy,” said Tantalo, who has guided the Wolfpack to a 92-58-13 record in his 10 seasons as head coach.

“He’s a very unselfish player, and early on, there were moments in matches where Austin would be isolated, and with his quickness and pace, he could either get around a defender or could create enough space to get a shot off. But that was never Austin’s first thought. We had to teach him to look out for his own scoring chances. Austin started to become a goal scorer last year, but the step from last year to this year is all about his improved confidence. Great goal scorers think every time they shoot the ball, they’re going to score, and now Austin has that belief, and the goal appears much bigger for him now that he’s finishing with tremendous confidence.”

From an early age, Gerber had proven himself tough off the pitch. He had dealt with Crohn’s disease —a type of inflammatory bowel disease — his whole life before undergoing surgery during his junior year at Churchville-Chili. As a result of the surgery, part of his small intestine was removed.

He arrived in Keuka Park with a chip on his shoulder. Gerber wanted to make his Churchville-Chili teammates proud of his soccer skills, and he also wanted to prove to the colleges that passed on him that he was a talented playmaker capable of making a difference on the pitch.

Gerber claimed the NEAC’s Inaugural Rookie of the Year honor during his freshman season after scoring three goals with two assists while starting all 16 games.

During his sophomore season, he scored 13 points on 6 goals with one assist, and followed up by earning first-team All-NEAC with 23 points on 10 goals scored with three assists during his junior season.

But despite the accolades, there were games early in his career where Gerber would make a nice run down the sidelines, receive the ball in space, take aim at the goal…and his shot would miss the mark.

Often, these early missed scoring opportunities would linger with Gerber for much of the game, preventing him from shaking off the misses and hindering his ability to score goals.

Gerber and Tantalo started working on Gerber’s mental makeup, hoping to help Gerber move past those missed opportunities and instead focus on netting the next big goal.

Eventually, Gerber was able to keep those missed shots where they belonged: in the past.

“I credit my maturity and my growth as a person and as a soccer player,” said Gerber, who lists potent goal scorers Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar as his favorite professional soccer players.

“I learned to realize that nothing is ever going to be perfect. If you mess up one scoring opportunity, you have to just put it behind you. And when you get another chance later in the game, that’s your chance to move on by finishing that goal. There are still times I get down on myself, just not as much as I used to in the past. That’s all because of maturity.”

Gerber is also making his way up the career record books as well. He currently has 102 career points on 45 goals with 12 assists, and ranks third all-time in both career goals and career points.

But his senior season, Gerber has elevated his game with eye-popping numbers. Gerber leads the nation in goals per game (1.62) and points per game (3.62). He has four game-winning goals, has scored at least one goal in 13 of 16 games, and had at least one point in all but two games this year.

Gerber has scored a goal in Keuka’s final nine games, and was named the NEAC’s Offensive Player of the Week four times.

But none of the individual accolades will matter to Gerber if the Wolfpack fall short of the team’s goal: claiming the NEAC postseason title, and a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.

“I’m glad we’re having this turnaround, especially during my senior season,” Gerber said. We’re trying to win NEAC’s and we plan on going all-out and leaving everything on the field. For us to win, we have to keep working hard during practice, and never be satisfied with what we have accomplished. Winning NEAC’s would be amazing, a dream come true and the perfect way to end my Keuka career.”

The Wolfpack face No. 2 seed Lancaster Bible College (11-5-1) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals at Morrisville State. The NEAC championship is 1 p.m. Sunday at Morrisville State.

“Austin’s play has earned him a lot of respect from this conference,” Tantalo said. “While the other coaches have always respected his ability as a soccer player, last year Austin opened eyes with what he was doing, and this year, everyone knows how dangerous he is. Coaches now have to game plan specifically for Austin, and that makes our whole team that much more dangerous. But as proud as we are of Austin as a soccer player, he’s an even better person and teammate. What he has done for this program will last for quite some time.”

For the latest stories, schedules and results from Keuka athletics, visit, go to the Keuka Athletics Facebook page,, and like us on Instagram and Twitter @KeukaAthletics.

New Television Cooking Competition has Keuka College Connection

Next time you go to your favorite restaurant, you might want to take a second look at the menu. Thanks to On the Menu, a new reality series on TNT, original family recipes will soon be added to 10 different chain restaurants’ menus. On the Menu premiered Friday, Oct. 3, and the Oct. 24 episode will have a Keuka College connection.

Garrett Zur ’09, who is earning his master’s degree at Keuka College, will be one of four amateur home cooks featured on the new show’s fourth installment. He and his fellow cooks will compete to put their family’s recipes on the menus of such restaurant chains as Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, and The Cheesecake Factory, among others. One restaurant will be featured for each of the 10 episodes.

“I cannot share what was made, but the challenge for the episode was to create a new decadent dessert for Planet Hollywood,” said Zur, who learned about the competition from Twitter. “I wanted to participate because it is my culinary passion to be on TV and with TNT having a new cooking show, why not be part of that? It is an awesome experience—one like no other. It was such an honor to have this opportunity.”

On the Menu, hosted by Ty Pennington and Chef Emeril Lagasse, who serves as Menu Master, bills itself as the first cooking competition show ever to give viewers at home the chance to taste the dishes they see on screen, as well as give everyday cooks the chance to have their dish appear in restaurants across the country.

Each episode of On the Menu opens on a set that looks like the featured chain restaurant. And like Zur’s favorite cooking show, Food Network’s Chopped, the four cooks must face a series of elimination challenges in order to make it to the final round.

“I like Chopped because it uses ingredients that I sometimes have in my house and it tests my creativity on what I could make,” said Zur. “Plus, any food challenges are fun to watch.”

In the first round, Zur and his competition must demonstrate their understanding of all things Planet Hollywood through an intense preliminary challenge. In the second round, the three remaining cooks must each create their own new dish for the restaurant and serve it to a room full of hungry diners and super fans of the featured eatery, whose votes will determine who moves on to the final round.

But the cooks don’t have to face the challenges alone. Pennington leads competitors through each of the elimination challenges, while Lagasse provides his expertise as a seasoned chef and industry insider, using his vast knowledge of cooking, branding, and sales to help the contestants shape their culinary creations.

After refining and perfecting their dishes based on the comments they receive from the diners in round two, the final two cooks serve their creations to Pennington, Lagasse, and representatives from the featured restaurant, in whose hands the final decision rests.

And if Zur wants his culinary creation on Planet Hollywood’s menu, he will need to rely on the skills he learned from his mother, one of his earliest influences in the kitchen.

“Ever since I was a kid, I have loved baking. I got my baking ‘gene’ from my mom who taught me the art of baking,” said Zur. “The best lesson my mom taught me was to lick the beaters. She would always say ‘if the batter tastes good, then the cake or dessert will taste good.’”

The hardest part of baking, said Zur, is knowing that it is chemistry. “You have to precisely measure each ingredient or it will not work, unlike cooking where you can eyeball. The easiest part? There are so many simple recipes out there.”

Zur also credits such television chefs as Chef Pasquale Carpino, Rachael Ray, and Debbie Fields—of Mrs. Fields Cookies fame—as impacting his culinary aspirations.

“At age 14, I started watching Rachael Ray. She is my culinary idol—I love watching and learning from her,” said Zur. “She has so many different books, tips, and tricks. I love her cookware and her daytime show. She truly taught me how to cook without needing a lot of direction. Her Cookin’ Round the Clock was the first cookbook I ever got. She didn’t attend culinary school, so she also taught me that you don’t need a culinary degree to pursue the passion of food.”

Armed with that knowledge, and the confidence he gained from making his culinary television debut, Zur is one step closer to making his dream come true.

Added Zur: “One day, I want my own cooking show, but my next step is to complete my master’s degree. Then hopefully, I will appear on more TV shows for cooking. For now, I will spread my ‘fooditude’ to anyone interested.”

Zur’s episode of On the Menu airs Friday, Oct. 24 at 8 p.m. on TNT.

Honduras Trip Inspires Social Work Student

Young friends Jamie and Kristen with Sarah, second from left, and misson teammate Jennifer, right.

When Sarah Ameigh flew to Honduras in August she carried two suitcases and a carry-on bag. The carry-on held her clothes and personal items, while the suitcases were crammed with fabric. Intended for the women of Tegucigalpa, the capital city, the fabric was destined for use in sewing and crafting small items such as table runners, scarves and tote bags the women sell in order to support their families.

Poverty is rampant in Honduras.

In Honduras, poverty is nearly as rampant as the crime caused by roving gangs – primarily fueled by the drug cartels. With many men caught up in illegal gang activity, or busy working harsh jobs, few children see their fathers; often, siblings don’t even have the same mother and father, Ameigh described. As such, education and empowerment to learn skills that can sustain a family become critical. Indeed, each of the 13 other travelers also flying with Ameigh filled their own suitcases with other supplies, medicine or craft materials needed to benefit the schoolchildren and families they came to serve with the “Border Buddies” mission organization.

The myriad of socio-economic issues facing the families and children in Honduras was a fascinating study for Ameigh, who is completing a bachelor’s degree in social work through Keuka College, studying each week at Corning Community College through the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP).

“Social work is all about human service. One of the main goals is to be out there and help promote change and social change,” she said, explaining that the primary purpose of the service trip was to add four new classrooms and a kitchen to a school building used for 250 children ages four through 12. The trip was sponsored through Ameigh’s home church, Victory Highway Wesleyan Church in Painted Post, and was the 30th visit in nine years that members of the church have made to that city and its mission outposts, she said.

According to Ameigh, all 250 schoolchildren had been “plastered in” to just six classrooms and most had no place to eat at school, one of the few places that can help counter the poverty at home. Even so, there are few books, but because the children have no better comparison, they are simply happy to be there, she said.

This gated school was built by the "Border Buddies" mission two years prior to Ameigh's trip.

Like many other locales within the city, the school grounds were gated because of the threat of gang violence. According to Ameigh, the threat was so strong that mission team members were not allowed to go near the gates as they worked on the building repairs in order to ensure their safety. The team members heard that gang initiations often require killing another gang member or a personal family member and learned that only one in three children is safe from the threat of assault.

Building school rooms for the kids provides a safe place to learn, so they can get off the streets and have a good job,” said Ameigh, who missed one week of her ASAP classes to participate in the trip, but had the full support of her professors, Susan Grover Vanpelt and Doyle Pruitt.

Overlooking the capital city: Sarah, right, teammate Nada, center and missionary Glenda, left.

While Ameigh completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting in 2002, after a brief stint in the banking industry, she switched jobs and started working for the Steuben County ARC. Ten years later, the passion for her work prompted her to enroll in the Accelerated Studies for Adults Program (ASAP) for a bachelor’s degree in social work. Ultimately, she hopes to complete an MSW degree and become a licensed clinical social worker with a focus in counseling, she said.

On the first full day of service, the mission team set to work transforming the shell into new schoolrooms. While Ameigh helped sand walls, then prime, paint and sand some more, others including her older sister Bethany worked on the roof of the building. As the week, and work, continued, the team – which ranged from two 15-year-old boys to adults in their 50s – made visits to other local schools in the afternoons. While a few women would instruct native women in the sewing and craft techniques, others such as Ameigh would keep the children busy playing games such as soccer, or learning their own arts and crafts.

In contrast to Sarah’s two suitcases stuffed with fabric, Bethany Ameigh carried plastic “melting beads” in her two suitcases, Sarah said. Gathered with string, the beads are melted with an iron into fun shapes, Sarah Ameigh said. The two sisters learned that balloon animals were also quite a draw and that Honduran children have a funny habit of coating their bodies with the colored dust from sidewalk chalk decorating the ground.

The children made crafts from "melting" beads brought by the service team.

Citing her course in human behavior, Ameigh said much of life success is impacted by the environment a child grows up in. The missionary couple hosting the team from New York’s southern tier emphasized especially to men in the group “to be sure to spend time with the kids because fathers aren’t really part of their lives,” said Ameigh.

“Unless something intervenes, they’ll end up in the same situation as their family [members],” she said.

Children made a special presentation to the group on the final day of their visit.

Recalling how the missionary couple described the rescue of one young man, previously living a life of crime and violence, Ameigh said the trip helped show her the value of the career she’s pursuing.

“He’d leave after school Friday, party the whole weekend and come back on Monday. But he’s now part of the youth group, has to show up two nights a week, hold to a certain grade standard, and [sell food] around the barrio to make money,” she described. “The missionaries are saving one life of a child on the streets and now these kids are working and going into a trade there,” she said, comparing the trade system of Honduras to the colleges of America.

“The mission of social work is to help empower people to make change in their own lives – we’re not doing it for them,” Sarah said, citing the women and their training in sewing and crafts as one example.

Sarah with a young friend

Despite the shock of the extreme degree of poverty and crime, the children were endearing, Sarah said, recalling one little girl named Jamie who brought Sarah’s sister Bethany a sugar wafer one morning – a small treat that must have cost the little girl nearly all she had – but was so distraught she did not have another for Sarah that she ran, crying, all the way to the store, in order to buy a second treat to share.

“I hated to take it, but they said you should so that these children can learn the empowerment of giving, too,” Sarah Ameigh said. “It was weird coming back because of what we saw. It’s dirty, it’s dangerous and you come back and you’re in culture shock. You look at your house and say, I don’t need this. I don’t need that. It changes you.”

Softball Boasts Seven All-America Scholar-Athletes

Katie Evangelista (photo by Ed Webber, Keuka College Sports Information)

The Keuka College softball team experienced success on the softball diamond in 2014, qualifying for the annual North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) postseason tournament while winning 16 or more games for the ninth straight year.

The Wolfpack’s success extended beyond the playing field, as seven student-athletes earned All-America Scholar-Athlete honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA).

Earning the academic honors for the Green and Gold were (with their class from last year): seniors Katie Evangelista (Geneva, N.Y./Geneva), Danielle Gravel (Sidney, N.Y./Sidney) and Jill Hart (Cowlesville, NY/Iroquois), sophomores Allyson Muller (Bath, NY/Haverling) and Liz Warren (Elmira Heights, NY/Thomas A. Edison), and freshmen Brianna Long (Arkport, N.Y./Dansville) and Brittany Massi (Auburn, N.Y./Port Byron).

To earn All-America Scholar-Athlete honors from the NFCA, a student-athlete had to post a grade-point average of 3.5 or better (on a 4.0 scale) in both the fall and spring semesters.

This is the second straight year that Hart, Muller and Warren have earned All-America Scholar-Athlete honors, and the first time Evangelista, Gravel, Long and Massi have received the academic honors.

Nationally, more than 4,660 softball players earned NFCA All-America Scholar-Athlete honors last year, including 1,005 student-athletes at the NCAA Division III level.

Keuka College was one of 159 Division III institutions to land student-athletes on the All-America Scholar-Athlete squads.

Keuka went 16-10 overall and 14-4 in the NEAC during the 2014 season. The Wolfpack advanced into the NEAC tournament before falling on day three of the double-elimination competition.

For the latest stories, schedules and results from Keuka athletics, visit, go to the Keuka Athletics Facebook page,, and like us on Instagram and Twitter @KeukaAthletics.