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Athletics Department Receives National Honor

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.

McGuigan accepts the trophy on behalf of Keuka College athletics.

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.”

Torrential storms in May led to major flood damage for many portions of the Penn Yan community, destroying many homes and crippling businesses.

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.

Phillips, left, and some of his men's basketball team members, helped in the cleanup.

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, go to the Keuka Athletics Facebook page,, and like us on Instagram and Twitter @KeukaAthletics.


Redesigned Athletics Website Unveiled

Keuka College is proud to unveil a new and redesigned athletics website that will allow fans of the Wolfpack’s teams and student-athletes easier access to the latest news and information about the College’s 19 intercollegiate athletic squads.

Partnering with PrestoSports, a company that has designed and built athletics websites for hundreds of colleges and universities, the redesigned site will incorporate the College’s new athletics identity — the Wolfpack — and can be found at

Students sport Wolfpack gear following the Aug. 25 pep rally unveiling the new mascot. (Photo by Stephanie Lockhart '15)

The new and improved website will allow fans across the country better access to follow their favorite teams all season long.

The design has been cleaned up and mainstreamed, with a brighter and more reflective look.

There is also more of an emphasis placed on both videos and social media, with easy to find social media tabs for the Wolfpack’s Twitter (@KeukaAthletics), Facebook (, Instagram (@KeukaAthletics) and YouTube ( accounts.

Each sport’s schedule, roster and the latest news on that team is easily found on both the homepage and each sport-specific page. (more…)

Sports Information Office a Desirable Place to Work Thanks to John Boccacino

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of profiles of 2014 Work Study Supervisor of the Year nominees. The winner will be announced at a luncheon Thursday, April 17.

When considering candidates for the Work Study Supervisor of the Year, there is only one name that comes to the mind of sophomore Ben Schreiber—Sports Information Director John Boccacino.

The management major from Rochester began working last spring as a sports information assistant and nominated Boccacino for the Work Study Supervisor of the Year Award because he believes Boccacino is a great role model, and is everything he would like to see in a future boss.

“John really allows all of us to feel like a major part of the staff, and makes the sports information department a desirable department of employment,” said Schreiber. “That’s why when John sends out a text message or an email asking me to work, I immediately jump at the opportunity.”

Schreiber said Boccacino “gives every student employee a game day responsibility and allows us to take care of that task without looking over our shoulder the whole time,” said Schreiber.

According to Schreiber, some of the game day responsibilities could include running the video at a game, being a spotter, or doing stats “a very challenging task,” each employee must pay full attention to the sporting events at all times.

Even so, Schreiber said Boccacino “always finds time to make sure questions are answered and the department is running smoothly through the entirety of a sporting event,” he said. “John is always there with some form of guidance, whether it is solving a simple problem like a video connection or helping an employee catch up with the statistics of the game. He makes sure each employee is challenged and truly given the opportunity to make an important contribution to the sports information team.”

Schreiber said that “not only do I get to be around sports, which I love, but John has also taught me a lot of skills I will be able to use elsewhere—including responsibility for my actions and my work, communication skills, and a need to be punctual.”

Said Schreiber: “I can only hope that I am either able to work for someone like John again, or get to lead a group of employees the way John leads the sports information department. John is respectful, understanding, and most importantly, he helps all of his employees improve at their jobs every day. I have the utmost admiration for John not only as a supervisor, but as a person.”

Lee Bottoni Transformed Keuka College Athletics Social Media

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of profiles of 2014 Student Employee of the Year nominees. The winner will be announced at a luncheon Thursday, April 17.

 When Sports Information Director John Boccacino came to Keuka College in August 2011, there was no social media presence for Keuka College athletics.

But thanks to Lee Bottoni, a junior unified childhood education major from Prattsbugh, that has all changed.

“Lee knows how to draw people to Keuka College athletics through our social media pages, and his efforts are a major reason why our brand has grown tremendously on social media in the last two years,” said Boccacino.

Just check the numbers.

“Lee is responsible for providing constant in-game updates from our home games during the different seasons, and through his hard work and dedication, we have grown our social media presence from nothing two years ago to 732 followers on Facebook, and 511 followers on Twitter,” said Boccacino.

Bottoni provides in-game updates on the Keuka College Storm’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, which Boccacino said are similar to those being produced at Syracuse University, the University of Florida and other larger schools and universities.

“Lee has been a huge help in transforming the sports information shop into what it currently is—an informative, multi-media friendly department that constantly produces high-quality stories, photo galleries and video stories on our 17 sports teams, and our hundreds of student-athletes,” said Boccacino.

According to Boccacino, Bottoni is always trying to think of new ways to promote the Keuka College sports teams and student-athletes.

“One way is with his in-game social media updates. Lee never misses a beat and is quick to highlight a particularly impressive accomplishment,” said Boccacino, “such as when Jessica Bandrowski eclipsed 1,000 career points or Danielle Gravel became the school’s all-time leader in made three-point baskets this winter.”

But it’s not just Bottoni’s in-game highlights or quick thinking that impresses Boccacino.

“He has also shown an ability to step in and handle the public address duties when needed,” he said. “At the scorers’ table, it is important to present a professional atmosphere during our home games, something similar to what you would see at a professional sports game.”

Added Boccacino: “Lee has an outstanding ability to handle a lot of work in a short period of time. He is always willing to show up and work hard at whatever task he is charged with. He definitely represents the best that Keuka College’s student-workers can accomplish. Without Lee, my job would be a lot harder.”

Keuka College Employees Honored at Community Day

President Díaz-Herrera presented five-year service awards to Katie Marcella (second from left), Wendy Gaylord, and Penny Webber.

Seventeen faculty and staff members were recognized for their service and dedication to Keuka College at Community Day Jan. 28.

Five-year service awards were presented to: Wendy Gaylord, dean for China programs; Penny Webber, office manager for Academic Success at Keuka (ASK); Katie Marcella, head women’s basketball coach; Vicki O’Connor, assistant professor of social work; and Dennis Hoins, general manager of facilities.

President Díaz-Herrera presented a 10-year service award to Pam Jennings.

Ten-year service awards were presented to: Linda Park, librarian and director of Lightner Library; Pam Jennings, academic skills counselor for ASK; and Jan Enos, coordinator of international student services.

A 20-year service award was presented to Jackie Robinson, secretary of the Division of Basic and Applied Social Sciences.

President Jorge Díaz-Herrera and merit award recipients Tim Sellers (second from left), John Boccacino, and Andy Hogan.

Merit awards were presented to John Boccacino, sports information director; Eva Robbins, director of student activities; Tim Sellers, associate vice president for academic programs; Deb Gates, associate professor of nursing and chair, Division of Nursing; Carol Grover, controller; and Andy Hogan, manager of information and classroom technology.

President Díaz-Herrera and Jason Paige.

President Díaz-Herrera and Anne Killen.

Presidential Awards for Sustained Outstanding Achievement were presented to Anne Killen, associate vice president of Center for Professional Studies; and Jason Paige, head men’s lacrosse coach.