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Top Student, Boss Honored

Eight students were nominated for Keuka College's 2015 Student Employee of the Year, including from left: Brittany Kuhn, Tyler Redington, Savannah Fuller, Zach Ward, Sini Ngobese, Connor Delavak, and Courtney Nojeim. (photo by Abigail Oderman '18)

A “pillar in the athletics department” and a “friend who changes student lives for the better” were the respective recipients of the 2015 Student Employee and Work-Study Supervisor of the Year awards at the Student Employment Awards Luncheon April 15.

Senior psychology major Connor Delavak and Co-Curricular Transcript Coordinator and Community Service Coordinator Valerie Webster were selected by two separate panels of judges.

Delavak, nominated for the award by Jeff Bray, associate director of athletics and head athletic trainer, has worked as a student athletic trainer for four years, and the longer Bray has been at Keuka College, the more increasingly selective he has become of those he chooses to hire as his work-study students.

Connor Delavak and Jeff Bray. (photo by Abigail Oderman '18)

In 23 years of supervising student employees, Bray says senior Delavak ranks in his top five, touting his demeanor and sincerity for setting him apart. 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 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.”

And 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.” 

The other student nominees were Tyler Redington, Brittany Kuhn, Ethan Eschler, Savannah Fuller, Courtney Nojeim, Sini Ngobese, and Zach Ward.

“All of our student employees are winners, but the eight nominees are the cream of the crop,” said Sally Daggett, human resources manager. “I thank all of the nominators who took time to nominate your student employee. It sends a powerful message to those students, as it tells of the importance of them in your lives.” 

Savannah Fuller and Valerie Webster (photo by Abigail Oderman '18)

Webster was one of five work-study supervisors nominated for the award. She was nominated by occupational science major Savannah Fuller.

In the three years senior Fuller has worked in the Community Service Resource Office as a Community Service Advocate, she said Webster has pushed her to think outside of the box and find new ways to reach out to others.

“Upon accepting this job three years ago to help pay for college, I had no idea the true wealth I would gain from Valerie,” said Fuller. “Over this time we have established a strong working relationship, and she is a phenomenal work-study supervisor.”

That’s because Webster “provides each of us with appropriate guidance and leadership to help us grow and be successfully independent in our roles as a work-study students,” said Fuller. “No matter what challenges life presents Valerie with, she always given her work-study students 100 percent.”

After commencement, Fuller believes that the friendship she and Webster share, as well as the dedication to each of their communities, will last beyond her work-study position and long after her graduation from Keuka College.

Added Fuller: “The impact Valerie has had on my life, and the lives of countless other students, is invaluable and transcendent. Valerie has a way of changing student’s lives for the better. It has been an honor to work with her.”

The other supervisor nominees were John Boccacino (sports information director), Rachel Dewey (communications specialist), Carol Sackett (library circulation supervisor), and Xong Sony Yang (international student advisor).

From left: Rachel Dewey, Sony Yang, John Boccacino, Valerie Webster, and Carol Sackett. (photo by Abigail Oderman '18)

“It is an honor for me to talk to you at this luncheon, as it is one of my favorite events of the year,” said Jim Blackburn, vice president of student development. “The work student employees perform is immeasurable. Keuka College employees 511 students in 814 jobs. That is the equivalent of 150,000 hours of work per year—enough for 134 additional full-time positions. So, Keuka College students do a massive amount of work.”

Each of the nominees was recognized at the luncheon by his or her nominator and presented with a gift. The names of the student and supervisor award recipients will be added to two separate plaques housed in the Center for Experiential Learning. The Student Employee of the Year plaque is hung up in the winner’s work-study location until the following year’s awards luncheon.

More photos from the 2015 Student Employee of the Year Luncheon can be found here.

Tyler Redington has Knack for Sports Information

Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a series of profiles of 2015 Student Employee of the Year nominees. The winner will be announced at a luncheon Wednesday, April 15.

According to Sports Information Director John Boccacino, senior Tyler Redington is one of the best student-workers he has worked with.

But that wasn’t always the case.

“During his sophomore year at Keuka College, Tyler found himself in trouble with the College and was suspended from school for the second semester,” said Boccacino. “He was in the middle of completing his Field Period™ with me when the suspension occurred. Needless to say, I was highly disappointed that Tyler’s actions had earned him a suspension.”

But when the management major from Tully returned to campus, he sat with Boccacino “vowing to recommit himself to his studies and his job. Since then, he has completely transformed himself and the results have been nothing short of remarkable,” said Boccacino.

When Redington returned to campus, he not only completed his Field Period™ with sports information, he applied—and was accepted—to become a paid member of Boccacino’s staff last spring.

This fall, Redington returned to Boccacino’s office, “wanting to learn as much as he could about sports information, and how he could have a future in this profession,” said Boccacino. “So I began challenging Tyler to get the most out of his experiences, and this year, he has really responded.”

One of the ways Redington responded to the challenge has been serving as the acting sports information director during home games when Boccacino could not be there, either due to multiple events occurring simultaneously, or previous off-campus engagements.

“Tyler did a tremendous job of keeping stats, promoting the games on social media, handling public address announcer duties, and running the press box like you would see at a professional sports game,” said Boccacino.

In addition to handling his usual duties, Boccacino said Redington also ran the basketball scorebook during this season’s home games, a difficult task that requires a high-level of attention to detail.

“The scorebook is the place of record should there be a dispute over the game score, the number of fouls called on a team or individual, and the number of timeouts remaining,” said Boccacino. “Tyler handles conflicts between the referees and both coaches, and on several occasions this winter, he not only helped resolve the conflict, he conducted himself with class and professionalism.”

Redington is “always” looking for ways to improve, and this winter and spring, he has and will be doing more writing for Boccacino.

“It is not easy to learn how to effectively write game recaps that positively promote Keuka’s student-athletes and teams,” added Boccacino, “and yet, Tyler has shown a knack for this skill. He has a bright future in whatever field he chooses, and through his hard work and dedication, he has been a tremendous asset to Keuka College, to its athletics department, and to our sports information shop.”

John Boccacino Covers Sports Information with a Smile

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of profiles of 2015 Work Study Supervisor of the Year nominees. The winner will be announced at a luncheon Wednesday, April 15.

John Boccacino

Senior Tyler Redington has worked in the Office of Sports Information for more than two years. In that time, he said he has seen Keuka College take strides in expanding not only the campus’ physical size, but the Keuka College brand as a whole, including the athletics department.

Redington acknowledges there are a lot of people at the College who work very hard every day to ensure its success, including many in the athletics department. But it’s Sports Information Director John Boccacino who especially comes to Redington’s mind.

“Mr. Boccacino is not only the head of sports information, he is the only staff member in the entire department,” said Redington. “[But] he keeps up-to-date records on each of the sports at Keuka College, maintains the athletics website, and keeps up with all the latest news with our teams.”

And the news on the Keuka College Wolfpack is as varied as the number of sports offered.

“From press releases about our women’s basketball coach raising awareness for kids in third world countries who don’t have shoes, to post-game video interviews, or stories about our annual pep rally, John Boccacino covers it with a smile on his face,” said Redington.

But that is not the end of Boccacino’s duties, according to Redington.

“Since Mr. Boccacino is the only one in the sports information department, he also manages and monitors all of his work-study student employees,” said Redington. “This means he must also exhibit some human resource management ability by creating a schedule for his employees and training each of us to do the kinds of tasks needed to get done for the athletic events hosted on campus.”

As well as working for Boccacino, Redington also completed a Field Period™ with him. In addition to teaching Redington the daily ins-and-outs of the job, he said Boccacino saw him through a lot of difficult times, “including when I was suspended during my first attempt at a Field Period™ in his department. I was forced to leave the school for some bad decision-making,” said Redington.

“Instead of considering me another trouble-bound kid not worth the time, Mr. Boccacino called me and told me keep my head on straight and return to school where my position in his department would be waiting for me,” said Redington, who wants to pursue sports information as a career. “When I returned to school, Mr. Boccacino made sure I went back to work for him in his department, and has helped me raise my GPA higher than ever before.”

Added Redington: “If it were not for John Boccacino, I would not be in the position I am in today.”

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…)