Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of profiles of 2015 Student Employee of the Year nominees. The winner will be announced at a luncheon Wednesday, April 15.
The longer Jeff Bray, associate athletic director and head athletic trainer has been at Keuka College, the more increasingly selective he has become of those he chooses to hire as his work-study students, as well as what his expectations are.
In 23 years of supervising student employees, Bray says senior Connor Delavak ranks in his top five, touting his demeanor and sincerity for setting him apart.
According to Bray, if Delavak, a psychology major from Rush, is on the schedule, he will be there, generally early.
“When we have practices at 6 a.m., we open at 5 a.m.,” said Bray. “It never fails that when I walk around the corner into the gym, the training room door is open, the light is on and Connor is already prepping our things for practice.”
In fact, Bray says Delavak has become a pillar within the athletics department.
“He has a tremendous grasp on what is expected of him and the role that he plays within our department,” said Bray, adding Delavak is part of the fabric of the athletic training staff and the athletic department. “It has gotten to the point that when we are scheduled to depart for a weekend road trip I simply ask him if we are ‘all set’ and he replies with a very confident ‘yes sir.’ He truly cares about the job that he does and it shows every time he works.”
When you do a job day to day, Bray said, “you don’t always see what can become seemingly simple. When Connor sees something that needs done, he just takes it over and gets it done.
And it is not just Bray who has confidence in Delavak’s abilities.
“Recently, we had teams traveling to Pennsylvania for a 3-day trip,” said Bray. “Due to scheduling of other events, my staff wasn’t going to be able to travel. I went to the coaches and said I would most likely send a student on the trip with them. Without hesitation, they both said, ‘can we have Connor?’”
And Delavak’s efforts did not go unnoticed on the road.
“The head athletic trainer from Wilson College sent an email telling me ‘Connor did a great job—thanks for sending him with your teams,’” said Bray. “When you are a student traveling with a Keuka College athletic team, and the head athletic trainer at the opponents’ college recognizes your efforts and how you present yourself, then takes the time to let your supervisor know—that sums it up.”
Bray does not hesitate to say that Delavak is a “tremendous asset” to the athletics department.
“I believe there is added responsibility that comes with that,” said Bray. “Connor has always represented himself, our department, and Keuka College in a positive and professional manner. In fact, there are times that our coaches forget that he is a student and not a full time staff member.”
Added Bray: “I think we often take for granted the importance and the impact our student employees have on our campus. With Connor, he is a respected member of my staff. I feel fortunate to have played a small role in his collegiate experience.”
When the student-athletes on the Keuka College women’s basketball team go to practice or play in a game, they wear a special athletic shoe designed to handle the rigors of running up and down a basketball court.
Once they step off the court, the student-athletes remove their basketball shoes and don their winter boots or sneakers for the trek back to their residence halls or apartments. In their closets are more pairs of shoes, often for other seasons, other sports or even dress shoes for special occasions.
The abundance of footwear for each player stands in stark contrast to children living in impoverished countries across the world, many of whom don’t even have a single pair of shoes to protect their feet.
The Wolfpack women’s basketball team wants to do its part to change that.
Partnering with the national Samaritan’s Feet program, the women’s basketball team is raising money and awareness through the College’s first Samaritan Feet Game.
When the Wolfpack hosts North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) rival the College of St. Elizabeth for a 1 p.m. contest on Saturday, Feb. 14, head coach Sarah Gaffney will coach barefooted on the sidelines, to raise awareness about the cause.
Additionally, there will be a 50/50 raffle, a Valentine’s Day raffle with prizes from local businesses, and concessions will be sold, with all proceeds going to Samaritan’s Feet (www.samaritansfeet.org). There will also be a youth basketball game at halftime, as every element of the fundraiser is designed to spread the word that Samaritan’s Feet aims to provide shoes to children in need.
“A lot of our student-athletes don’t appreciate all that they have, especially with sneakers. Where some of our student-athletes have two, three or even four pairs of sneakers, children across the world don’t even have one pair of sneakers,” said Gaffney, in her first year leading the Wolfpack.
“This year, I’ve been challenging our student-athletes to think of how they can give back to the community through community service. It’s about being more than just a student on campus. Their basketball careers are important, but coming to Keuka College is all about being a good person and a good citizen. With this event, we can help provide shoes to children in need.”
Across the country, for every $1,000 donated to Samaritans Feet, 100 brand-new shoes are donated to children in these developing and low-income countries.
The chance to give back to those less fortunate really resonated with junior Mackenzie Cole (Ogdensburg, N.Y./Ogdensburg Free Academy).
“While we are student-athletes on the basketball team, we’re about more than just playing basketball and going to class. We want people in the community to know that we’re here to make this a better place,” Cole said.
“We want to get as much support for this event as possible. We’re trying to raise money and awareness for this great cause, and we all just want to give back to those less fortunate. We take it for granted we’re going to have shoes on our feet, yet in some parts of the world, children can get diseases or even die from not having sneakers. This is a great cause for us to join.”
TOMS Shoes, a company that donates a pair of new shoes to a child in need for every pair purchased, is represented on campus through the College’s TOMS Shoe Club. Each spring, the club’s members and Keuka College Chaplain Rev. Eric Detar, holds a Day Without Shoes event on campus to raise awareness about the need to provide shoes to needy children.
The TOMS club on campus is also assisting with the Samaritan Feet efforts being spearheaded by the women’s basketball team.
“There’s a big need for projects like this, and at our age, a lot of college kids are so focused on their school work and their hobbies that they don’t pay much attention to our surroundings,” said senior Amanda Kubitz (Spencerport, N.Y./E.J. Wilson).
“There are little children that would die for a new pair of shoes, while some of us complain about the shoes we have,” she said. “We take things for granted, but we are about more than ourselves. I feel at the end of this effort, we will help children get the shoes they need, and we will feel great about how we made a difference.”
For the latest stories, schedules and results from Keuka athletics, visit www.KCWolfpack.com, go to the Keuka Athletics Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/KeukaAthletics, and follow them on Instagram and Twitter @KeukaAthletics.
For selfless actions and service following floods that devastated community neighbors in May, the Keuka College athletics department was honored Saturday afternoon as one of three institutions to earn a national community service award from the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators (NADIIIAA)/Jostens.
Comprised of athletics administrators from the nearly 450 institutions and 43 conferences competing at the NCAA Division III level, the NADIIIAA recognizes select institutions for impressive community service projects performed by its student-athletes during the 2013-14 academic year. For volunteer efforts during the days following torrential May downpours & flooding that devastated the neighboring Penn Yan community, student-athletes, coaches and administrators within the Keuka College athletics department received the community service award in the NADIIIAA’s one-time project category.
Both the village of Penn Yan and nearby Branchport saw anywhere between five and nine inches of rain fall during the storms. In the wake of the devastation, roadways were flooded, houses and businesses destroyed, leaving residents and business owners with the huge chore of rebuilding their lives.
As part of a coordinated relief effort led by the Rev. Eric Detar, the college chaplain, the Keuka College community came together, taking to the streets to help start the tedious task of cleanup following the storm. During the middle of their preparations for finals, more than 250 Keuka College students, plus several staff and faculty members, boarded busses bound for Penn Yan, intent on helping their neighbors in need in any way possible. These students—many of them student-athletes—spent the better part of three days removing debris from flooded basements and other low-lying storage areas hit hard along downtown Penn Yan. Student-athletes also chose to cancel their annual awards banquet and instead send the food, water and snacks reserved for it to community volunteers instead.
Keuka College athletics was awarded a commemorative trophy highlighting the one-time project honor, and the NADIIIAA and Jostens will make a $1,000 contribution to the general scholarship fund at Keuka College.
Molly McGuigan ’11, the current adventure program manager and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (S.A.A.C.) co-advisor, received the award on behalf of the Wolfpack’s athletics department. The awards were given out during the NADIIIAA Reception at the NCAA Convention in National Harbor, Md. before one hundred athletic directors, conference commissioners, school presidents and other Division III staff members.
“When we were helping with the cleanup efforts, we certainly weren’t doing it to win a national award,” said McGuigan. “When we were in Penn Yan assisting with the cleanup, it just felt great seeing how our students, faculty and staff dropped everything and ran out to help their community. It was just a natural reaction for us to go and help those in need, and to get this recognition only added to the level of pride I felt about how we reacted to the flooding.”
Keuka College was recognized by NADIIIAA alongside two other schools: Moravian College, which won in the category for an array of projects, and Oswego State, for the ongoing projects category.
Community service has long been a hallmark of Keuka College, with numerous clubs and groups conducting service projects and fundraisers throughout the academic year. The College also hosts an annual countywide day of service, in conjunction with the Yates County Chamber of Commerce, known as Celebrate Service … Celebrate Yates (CSCY).
This strong focus on community service has helped earn the College a spot on the U.S. President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for the past eight years.
“Keuka College is known for its experiential-based learning method, and the emphasis we put on community service within that experiential education. Winning a national award of this nature just solidifies and gives further credence to this component of a Keuka education,” said Dave Sweet, who is in his 30th year as Keuka College’s athletic director.
“To have other athletic directors recognize our student-athletes, coaches and staff for their efforts in assisting our neighbors during their time of need is a huge honor.”
The storms occurred as the members of Keuka’s intercollegiate sports teams were preparing to celebrate their assorted accomplishments from 2013-14 at the annual athletics awards ceremony.
Recognizing the need to step up and help out their neighbors, the student-athletes approached Sweet with an idea: rather than celebrate their own accomplishments, the student-athletes opted to forgo their awards banquet and instead, contribute to the relief efforts. The food, water and snacks that normally would be consumed during the awards ceremony were donated to volunteers who were aiding in the cleanup efforts.
Among the places where volunteer workers came to the aid of those in need were: the Calvary Chapel of Penn Yan, Deano’s Outdoors store, and the Penn Yan Diner, where some nine feet of water had rushed through the basement. Student-athletes who made an impact all spoke of lessons learned through service to others.
Then-sophomores Ally Muller (Bath, N.Y./Haverling) and Liz Warren (Elmira Heights, N.Y./Thomas A. Edison), members of the Keuka softball team, helped a resident remove layers of mud from the basement of her Penn Yan home and cleaned up at both the Wagner Restaurant and Longs’ Cards and Books. According to Muller, people were “extremely appreciative” to receive help.
“They were going through a very stressful moment in their lives, and for people to come help, it showed that we cared while helping these people deal with the emotional toll of the storm,” Muller said. “It was a time for us all to come together and rebuild the town.”
“I went down there because as a human that’s what we’re supposed to do: help each other whenever we can,” said Thad Phillips, Keuka College’s men’s basketball coach.
“Our community — my community — needed help. I was lucky our house had little damage and effects from the storm and flooding, but others I know weren’t so fortunate.”
Phillips went into town with student-athletes Joe Tortolon (Dundee, N.Y./Dundee), Casey Williams (Syracuse, N.Y./Jamesville-DeWitt) and Vinney Zambito (Elba, N.Y./Batavia Notre Dame) to lend a hand.
They helped clean up at the CrossFit location, which had experienced heavy water damage. As much as 10 feet of water came in and left a thick mud coat covering most of the interior of the building. The basketball student-athletes and their coaches also helped remove equipment from the Sampson Theatre.
“It’s always great when our teams win on the field of play. But when they take the values you’re trying to teach to them on the field, and they apply that to their everyday lives, that is truly special, and that’s what everyone did with the cleanup efforts,” Sweet said. “They put others before themselves, and that lesson is one of the things that makes Keuka College such a special place.”
The NADIIIAA/Jostens Community Service awards program was established in 2001 to recognize the many contributions Division III student-athletes regularly make to their campuses and local communities.
“The efforts and selflessness of Keuka College’s student-athletes certainly made an impact on the committee,” said Danielle Drews, director of athletics at The Sage Colleges who chaired the selection committee that reviewed the nominations.
For the latest stories, schedules and results from Keuka athletics, visit www.KCWolfpack.com, go to the Keuka Athletics Facebook page, www.Facebook.com/KeukaAthletics, and like us on Instagram and Twitter @KeukaAthletics.
Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a series of profiles of 2014 Student Employee of the Year nominees. The winner will be announced at a luncheon Thursday, April 17.
Two years ago, Jeff Bray, associate director of athletics and athletic trainer, watched then-sophomore Brandon Jacobs struggle with the Game Day and Event Management process.
The now-senior management major was trying to figure out how to do his job, said Bray, while seeing the need for the management of the process to be done differently.
“Brandon mentioned to me on several occasions that if he were in charge, ‘this is how it would be done,’” said Bray, who nominated the Walworth resident for the Student Employee of the Year award. “So when the opportunity presented itself, I challenged him. The result—Brandon has taken the opportunity and run with it.”
As the student supervisor for Game Day and Event Management, Jacobs’ role is “absolutely critical” to the success of hosting home sporting events.
“Over the past year, Brandon has become the “face” of our game management staff,” said Bray. “Referees, visiting coaches, and our own coaching staff know he is someone that they can count on and is the ‘go-to’ person.”
That is because in the role that Jacobs fulfills, said Bray, he has the opportunity to work with and communicate directly with professional staff, outside vendors, as well as staff and administrators from visiting colleges.
“In doing so, it has been assumed by many that he is member of our professional staff; not a student employee,” said Bray. “When those individuals comment on a job well done, they are shocked to learn that he is a student. Brandon has aspirations of becoming a college athletics director and has really taken stock in his opportunity as a work study student.”
“Keuka College has a reputation within our athletic conference of using outstanding student workers for home games,” said Bray, who gives much of the credit to Jacobs. “In working with his peers, Brandon does so in such a way that they want to work with him. He is knowledgeable in what his tasks are and he completes them.”
In addition to his responsibilities for the organization and set-up for more than 70 home sporting events—including equipment, sound systems, scoreboards, visiting locker rooms, and game officials—Jacobs was tasked to complete a work study schedule for the spring semester.
“He had every student worker’s name, event, and task for that day,” said Bray. “Brandon had obtained all 25 of the students’ class schedules, the athletic schedule, spring break, meal times, etc. and had completed a task that has been known to take me weeks to do complete. It was a bit of a ‘wow’ moment for me.”
Bray said Jacobs is unlike any other student employee he has supervised in the Game Day/Event Management area.
“The work study position that Brandon maintains represents Keuka College on the frontline of visitors to our campus,” he said. “Brandon’s professional approach allows us to always have a full staff for games, as his work study peers respect him and respond appropriately when he schedules them to work or he offers instructions to them. Upon graduation, if I had a position available, I would not hesitate to offer it him.”
Freshman Melissa Slusher (Orwell, Ohio/Grand Valley) came to Keuka College in the fall of 2013 knowing she wanted to study medical technology. She just had no idea what direction her education in this ever-evolving field should take.
The medical technology field is quite broad and can encompass everything: from assisting pharmacists and physicians with treatment of their patients, working in a research laboratory, teaching health care professionals or working in the pharmaceutical, dental and public health sectors.
The degree’s primary focus, according to Slusher, is the study, diagnosis and treatment of different diseases, a field that is becoming more important as the technology used to treat these illnesses becomes more complex.
In January, Slusher conducted her Field Period™ at the Dover Air Force Base with the 436th medical group in Dover, Del. During her time on the base, Slusher assisted her brother-in-law, Senior Airman Jeffrey Utz on the base’s health clinic.
After completing her first Field Period™, Slusher came away with a more-defined definition of her career goals, and also left determined to play a bigger role in helping people recover and resume their healthy lifestyles.
“I have a passion for the medical field because I look at it as helping ill people become healthy, so they can live the healthy, happy life they deserve,” said Slusher, a defender on the Keuka College women’s soccer team.
“I chose medical technology because I knew that I wanted to pursue a job in the medical field, but I was unsure which field I wanted to study. With this major being so broad, I knew it would help me find my way.”
One of her primary responsibilities during her first Field Period™ was providing vaccines and shots to soldiers. Among the vaccinations administered on the base: chickenpox, smallpox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and tuberculosis.
Every Thursday, Slusher and Utz spent the day administering smallpox vaccinations to soldiers who were preparing for deployment overseas.
Since smallpox can be a serious disease that can spread rapidly through a population — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have classified smallpox as a Category “A” agent, those that pose the greatest potential threat for adverse public health impact and large-scale dissemination according to the CDC’s website — Slusher said her work vaccinating these soldiers was extremely important to their long-term health.
Along with providing the essential vaccination, Slusher and her supervisor made it a top priority to educate these soldiers on the potential dangers of contracting the smallpox disease. They created a PowerPoint presentation that explained how the smallpox vaccinations would leave a series of punctures on the skin that must be kept covered at all times.
“My supervisor and I informed the men and women getting this vaccination how smallpox works, how to properly take care of it and what to look for if there are signs of a reaction to the vaccination,” Slusher said.
“We then gave the soldiers goodie bags consisting of bandages, gauze pads, wipes and hand sanitizer. This was my favorite part of the Field Period™ because we were helping protect our soldiers and wishing them luck on their deployment.”
Reflecting on her first Field Period™, Slusher said she appreciated the opportunity to help these soldiers while learning first-hand the important role that vaccines play in keeping people safe.
“I love how detailed and precise the medical field is. It continues to grow every day and it’s something I want to be a part of,” Slusher said.
“In coming to Keuka, I was in search of a degree to become a sonographer (ultrasound technician). I plan on continuing my research in this field and using my Field Period™ to help guide me down the right path. My dream job would be to work in a laboratory helping create cures for illnesses. I cannot even imagine what it would feel like to find a cure for an illness and save people’s lives in the process.”