Dunkirk’s entire softball team named as Scholar Athletes, Fredonia boasts five teams, 44 individuals honored

Scholar Athlete standouts

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen The Dunkirk Lady Marauders celebrate a home run during a game earlier this season, in Dunkirk.

With all of the success local teams have achieved this spring, it’s easy to forget the players are more than just athletes — they’re high school students, too. Recently, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) announced its spring 2019 Scholar Athlete teams and individuals, featuring many local student athletes. This is the 27th year the NYSPHSAA has conducted the Scholar Athlete program, which is sponsored by Pupil Benefits Plan, Inc.

In all, 17 local teams were named as Scholar Athlete teams. Fredonia High School led the way with five Scholar Athlete teams, in baseball, softball, boys tennis, boys golf and girls golf. The other local baseball team honored was Gowanda, while four other softball teams were honored in addition to Fredonia — Cassadaga Valley, Dunkirk, North Collins and Pine Valley. Also honored were three more boys tennis teams — Cassadaga Valley, Dunkirk and Westfield, a co-ed program. Cassadaga Valley/Falconer and Gowanda both earned the honor in girls track, while Cassadaga Valley girls golf and Chautauqua Lake/Westfield/Sherman boys golf were also honored.

Individually, Scholar Athletes were not named, but the amount of players from each school’s teams were listed. Brocton had five baseball players and five softball players as Scholar Athletes. Cassadaga Valley had 11 softball players as Scholar Athletes, along with eight boys tennis players, seven from girls golf, six from boys golf and two baseball players. Chautauqua Lake had eight boys and eight girls track and field athletes as Scholar Athletes, along with three baseball and three softball players. Six boys golfers from the Chautauqua Lake/Westfield/Sherman team were also honored. Dunkirk had its entire varsity softball team named as Scholar Athletes, along with five boys tennis athletes.

“As a program, we take pride and value in both our academics and athletics,” said Dunkirk softball coach Michelle Gilmour. “We expect our players to be student athletes. The girls work extremely hard every day to make sure they are setting themselves up for success in the future, both on and off the field. All 12 young ladies are deserving of the Scholar Athlete award.”

Like Dunkirk, Fredonia also had 12 softball players as Scholar Athletes. Nine Fredonia baseball players, five boys golfers and 10 girls golfers, along with eight boys tennis players were also honored from Fredonia, bringing the total number of Hillbillies Scholar Athletes to 44 — to lead the area schools.

OBSERVER Photo by Braden Carmen The Fredonia Lady ‘Billies meet in the pitcher’s circle during a playoff game this season, at SUNY Fredonia.

“We have been so fortunate with the group of kids we’ve been around. This shows the kind of character of the kids we have and the families they come from,” said Fredonia softball coach Jesse Beers. “They are a special group for not only their athletic prowess, but academically, as well. With some of the courses our athletes are taking, to be able to handle that course load and excel in the classroom is pretty phenomenal.”

The leading team in terms of numbers in the area was Gowanda girls track and field, with 17 Scholar Athletes, while nine baseball players and six softball players from Gowanda were also honored. North Collins had six softball players named Scholar Athletes, while Pine Valley had eight softball players honored. Westfield had six baseball players and 10 members of the co-ed tennis team named as Scholar Athletes.

This spring, NYSPHSAA recognized 2,511 Scholar Athlete teams and 39,909 individuals across NY State. The number of Scholar Athlete teams increased by 156 (6.62%) compared to spring 2018. The number of individuals increased by 1,875 (4.93%) from the spring of 2018. A total of 578 schools across the state participated in the Scholar Athlete program.

“Congratulations to our NYSPHSAA Student Athletes and member schools,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director in a press release to media members across NY State. “To see the number of teams and individuals recognized as Scholar Athletes increase shows how hard our Student Athletes in New York State are working in the classroom. We continue to see what hard working and dedicated Student Athletes we have in New York each season and this shows how much NYSPHSAA Student Athletes are committed to their education.”

For the 2018-19 school year, there were a total of 8,571 Scholar Athlete teams awarded and 119,733 individuals across NY State. The number of teams awarded increased by 507 (6.29%) and the number of individuals increased by 4,147 (3.59%) as compared to the 2017-18 school year, according to the press release. School of Excellence and School of Distinction honors will be awarded this summer, schools must apply to be recognized. The deadline to apply is June 30.