NYSPHSAA Announces Community Service Challenge Champion

Date Posted: 06/16/2017
Author: Chris Watson, Director of Communications


NYSPHSAA Announces Akron High School

as 2017 Community Service Challenge Champion


LATHAM, NY- The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) is proud to announce Akron High School (Section 6) as the 2017 winner of the Community Service Challenge. Akron was chosen as the winning school by the NYSPHSAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which is comprised of two current student-athletes from each of the eleven sections and three student leaders.

Established in the Fall of 2010, the program encourages students to get involved in their local community and beyond. Students and schools determined and executed a project, then submitted the project to their Section and the NYSPHSAA office. The submission included a description, the participants, implementation plan, and project goals then finished with a reflection of their work. 

The Akron varsity softball team created a project called Just DOnate It! In 2016, the project began with the team collecting 7,500 pounds of used softball equipment. Next, the students submitted an application to the Denton Program of the United States Air Force requesting the equipment be shipped to Bani, Dominican Republic. Akron student-athletes traveled to Bani in January of 2017 to distribute the equipment, teach the game of softball, and develop a plan to build a league in the community. 

"Just DOnate It! was a simple idea, and the players, our school, community businesses, the US Air Force and all of Western New York worked like a team and made it happen,” said Marlene Stone, Akron softball coach. “The hard work and persistence of these student-athletes will have a tangible impact in our Dominican sister city for years.”

Over the course of their three day visit in January, the team met with over 60 players and coaches to teach softball skills and run a four team tournament. Return trips are planned for 2018 and 2019 with the goals of providing athletic footwear, First Aid kits with AED’s, and training the players and coaches in First Aid, CPR and Concussion prevention. They also hope to purchase and install a water filtration system and begin planting breadfruit trees, which can feed a family of four for fifty years.

“We are so proud of Coach Stone and our Varsity Softball team,” said Akron Athletic Director, Stephen Dimitroff. “They truly exemplify what we preach to not only our teams, but to the entire student body.  They have set the standard for service and raised the bar for all others to achieve.” Dimitroff added, “As an Athletic Director, I am grateful, as well as humbled, to witness through this project, a unique opportunity for our kids to make a difference in the lives of people in a disadvantaged part of our world, and having the opportunity to see it through by traveling there to meet, teach and learn from the friends they made in Bani.”

Members of the Akron softball team were grateful to be involved in a project like Just DOnate It! "Collecting and donating all of the equipment and supplies was an amazing experience because I realized how giving many people are,” said Sydney Leeds, Akron Senior. “It was also amazing to give to the people in the Dominican Republic and see their faces when they received it. I definitely plan to do more projects like this in the future."  

Bailie Murty, Akron alumna, echoed Leeds enthusiasm and said, “It was an amazing experience helping build and create a project like Just DOnate it. There is nothing that compares to the feeling you have when you realize that you have the power to change someone else's life for the better.”

“I am certain that our student-athletes have likely benefitted the most from their involvement in this experience,” John Jablosnki, Akron Athletic Coordinator said. “The team's efforts, as well as the support of many local organizations, made the project a success and is reason for our Akron school and community to be very proud.”

Six sections throughout the state submitted their winners for consideration of the State Champion award. Akron High School will be presented an award and recognized for their accomplishments at the NYSPHSAA Recognition Luncheon on July 25th in Clayton, NY.

Previous Community Service Challenge State Champions-

2016 – Mahopac High School (Section 1)

2015Kings Park High School (Section 11)

2014 – Arlington High school (Section 1)

2013 – Columbia High School (Section 2)

2012 – Ossining High School (Section 1)

2011 – Adirondack Central School (Section 3)


About NYSPHSAA (Twitter: @NYSPHSAA | Facebook: NYSPHSAA | YouTube: NYSPHSAASports):
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association Inc. is a non-profit, voluntary, educational service organization composed of public, parochial, and private schools dedicated to providing equitable and safe competition for the students of its member schools. The organization conducts 32 championship events and governs the rules and regulations of high school athletics in New York State. Membership is open to secondary schools providing interschool athletic activities for boys and girls in grades 7-12.