Gilbertsville-Mount Upton senior Gavin Bonczkowski will return to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) for the upcoming school year, lending his perspective to the statewide conversation ahead of an uncertain academic year.
“I wanted to kind of give the kids around here a voice, it’s almost like we’re in the middle of nowhere,” Bonczkowski said on why he wanted to join SAAC. “I want to try and keep the small-town schools on the map.”
Bonczkowski served on the committee last year as one of the two representatives from Section IV, along with Alli Miller of Bainbridge-Guilford. A male representative and a female representative from each of the state’s 11 sections make up the committee.
Candor’s Shelby Swartz will join Bonczkowski as the other Section IV representative this year.
During the 2019-20 school year, Bonczkowski was involved with NYSPHSAA’s Mental Heath Awareness Week, participated in the SAAC summit in Syracuse and also helped expand the NYSPHSAA Coaches and Officials Appreciation Days.
“With the athletic committee one of our biggest things is mental health awareness week,” Bonczkowski said. “ A big presentation was sent out to schools and there was a big social media campaign in May. That was probably our biggest accomplishment.”
The 2020-21 school year will look much different as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the SAAC is already planning on implementing some adjustments.
“Last year we had a meeting every two months, five to six times a year,” Bonczkowski said. “This year we’re going to be using video chat.
“Last year going to Syracuse, it was a big deal because it was the first time I saw everyone’s faces,” Bonczkowski continued. “We meet and talk about things that have come down from higher ranks.”
In a media release Tuesday, July 28, NYSPHSAA announced the first SAAC meeting will take place Sunday, Sept. 21.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of reminders, if we’re going to be playing sports we have to stay safe,” Bonczkowski said. “The last thing anybody wants is to start a season and then it gets taken away, especially for me since I’m a senior. I felt so bad for all the seniors this spring season. A lot of us are hopeful that we can play and make the most of it.”
Bonczkowski plays soccer, basketball and baseball for the Raiders.