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NYSPHSAA Announces Williamsville North Boys Ice Hockey team as the Winter 2023 Community Service Challenge Winners


Latham, NY– The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) has announced the Williamsville North Boys Ice Hockey Team (Section VI) as the winner of the Winter 2023 Community Service Challenge.

The NYSPHSAA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, which is comprised of 22 student-athletes (two from each of the 11 sections) selected the Williamsville North Boys Ice Hockey team as the winner of this program, which has been in existence since 2011.

On February 16, 2023, Williamsville North hosted their 6th Annual Teddy Bear Toss at a home boys ice hockey game against Williamsville East High School, a school that also participated in the event. Both schools came together for the worthy cause of raising funds for Crisis Services. The toss started in 2016 when the Williamsville North community was affected by suicide. Since then, the goal has been to raise funds for Crisis Services to support their Suicide Awareness and Prevention Programs.

“The Teddy Bear Toss has been a cornerstone of our program for the last six years,” said Rob Rosen, Williamsville North Boys Ice Hockey Head Coach. “We have continued to grow the event while keeping our core mission of supporting suicide prevention at the forefront. With the help of Crisis Services, we are able to get that message to our team and let them know if they ever need help, they have the support of their coaches, teammates and the professional services Crisis Service offers.”

Both Williamsville North and Williamsville East selected a “lead player” to help with the tasks of completing forms, organizing bear sales at their schools, picking up supplies and leading advertising efforts. Every player on both teams’ 25-person ice hockey roster participated in the event.

“I was honored to be involved with the fundraising efforts for such an important organization,” said Brennan McDermott, Williamsville North Boys Ice Hockey player. “Crisis Services helps so many people in our community.”

A record number of bears were sold this year with additional funds raised in an online donation submission. Charitable funds raised totaled $6,338. This is the first time Williamsville North has won this prestigious award.

“Our boys ice hockey team has historically done a phenomenal job supporting Crisis Services and their mission,” said Julie Arnold, Williamsville North Athletic Director. “The collaborative effort of the student-athletes and coaches is commendable and involves the entire Williamsville North student body. The student-athletes do an excellent job taking the initiative to promote the Teddy Bear Toss throughout the school and community.”

This winter, a total of 173 community service projects were submitted for consideration through the Team Up 4 Community platform. In total, more than 6,100 NYSPHSAA student-athletes donated over 36,000 hours of their time to some sort of community service project this winter. Those hours resulted in $159,102 raised for charitable causes.

“We are once again honored to recognize the fantastic work being done in our schools to promote the importance of community service,” said Dr. Robert Zayas, NYSPHSAA Executive Director. “To see the Williamsville North and East Boys Ice Hockey teams put rivalries aside for one night and come together to support such an important cause is remarkable. I want to congratulate all the student-athletes who participated and thank those people who supported this great cause.”
Williamsville North’s full submission can be viewed here.

Previous Community Service Challenge Champions-

2022-23 Fall, North Salem Middle/High School-Girls Volleyball (Section I)

2021-22 Fall, Bethpage Senior High School (Section VIII)
Winter, Arlington High School-Wrestling Program (Section I)
Spring, Oceanside High School (Section VIII)

2020-21 Fall, Maple Hill Jr./Sr. High School-Girls Soccer Program (Section 2)
Winter, Columbia High School (Section 2)
Spring, John F. Kennedy High School (Section VIII)

2019-20 Fall, Ossining High School-Football Team (Section I)
Winter, Cambridge Central School-Girls Basketball Program (Section 2)
Spring, Smithtown High School West-Football Team (Section XI)

2018-19 Fall, Canandaigua Academy-Girls Volleyball Team (Section V)
Eastport South Manor-Boys Volleyball Team (Section (XI)
Winter, Harrison High School-Athletes in Action (Section I)
Spring, Hewlett High School-Leaders Club (Section VIII)

2018 – Farmingdale High School (Section VIII)

2017 – Akron High School (Section VI)

2016 – Mahopac High School (Section I)

2015 – Kings Park High School (Section XI)

2014 – Arlington High School (Section I)

2013 – Columbia High School (Section 2)

2012 – Ossining High School (Section I)

2011 – Adirondack Central School (Section III)