May 29, 2003
3rd Annual Catholic SUN Sports Awards
By Howie Mansfield
Female Athelete of the Year: KC Groth: Confident Leader
EAST SYRACUSE — This scenario has probably occurred all across the world: a young, shy freshman looks up to a mature, confident senior. KC Groth has experienced both ends of that spectrum at Bishop Grimes High School. Groth recalled her first year on the girls’ varsity basketball team. “I was really nervous that first year. Mr. Cif [Coach John Cifonelli] had been my JV coach the year before and now he was on varsity. He said I could stay on JV or come to varsity and I decided to go up,” explained Groth. “I had the opportunity to play with some great girls — Julie Benscoter, Tara Brission, Katie Hartley. I learned so much from them about basketball — skills and attitudes about the game.” Groth said it was Benscoter who had the biggest impact. “I always wanted to be like her. She was a great leader. She taught me all about being a forward,” she said. “When you have a small Catholic school, there is an opportunity for younger kids to look up to those in the higher grades. She was that role model for me.” The tables have turned for Groth, now graduating from Bishop Grimes and moving on to college at the State University of New York at Geneseo. Coach Cifonelli said Groth is the type of player and individual any coach would want on a team. With a 95 average, Groth was recently named to the All State Academic Team for girls’ basketball. “KC has been the most prominent and visible female athlete that Grimes has had in years. The younger athletes really know her well and she’s always willing to help develop them,” Coach Cifonelli said. “KC’s legacy will be a little stronger because she’s been such a great role model, plus she’s an outstanding student and has a great relationship with her coaching staff.”
Although basketball is Groth’s preferred sport, she has really grown to love soccer. This season, she was named league player of the year. “It was a big surprise. I wasn’t expecting it. This was my best year of soccer — it really built my confidence. Now, I’m really interested in playing more and I want to play at Geneseo,” said Groth. Groth has spent four seasons on the varsity basketball team and three years on the varsity soccer and softball teams. She is a member of the National Honor Society, class officer and member of the school’s yearbook staff. A parishioner at Sacred Heart Church in Cicero, Groth said her years at Bishop Grimes have been wonderful ones. “I’m glad that my parents sent me here. I have made a lot of friends. It’s not too small a school to get to know your teachers. There isn’t a person in my class I don’t know,” she said.
Through her career, Groth said she has been involved with many big games. She said playing against Notre Dame High School was one of those games. “We lost by two to Notre Dame, but we played hard. It was one of the best games I’ve ever seen,” she said. “People said in my junior and senior years that our girls’ basketball team would be terrible. But we proved we could play with the best teams in the league.” Coach Cifonelli said Groth never focused the limelight on herself. While many other seniors became the go-to offensive players, Groth quietly did what was necessary to win. “She always deferred to others on offense. Sure, she picked up her scoring average by six points per game, but she took a lot of responsibility on her shoulders,” Coach Cifonelli said. “I’ve spent five years with her and it’s been an absolute privilege. She knows what it takes to succeed in this program and she raised the other kids up to that level.” Groth hopes to play basketball and soccer at SUNY Geneseo next year. She is excited about the future and is very pleased to have been named The Catholic SUN Female Athlete of the Year.
“It’s an honor. This is really big,” said Groth. “It’s encouraging and very rewarding. I’ve played sports for so long and everything seemed to pay off this year. I’m glad people see what happens when you put your heart into everything you do.”
Male Athelete of the Year: Jim Bullock: Small-Town Powerhouse
PARISH — When Jim Bullock walks the hallways of Altmar-Parish-Williamstown (A-P-W) High School, he passes friends and classmates, greeting them with a wave and smile. His personality is infectious and others around him appreciate his generosity, kindness and quiet leadership. Bullock has left an impact on this small rural high school in Oswego County, giving of himself and standing strong as a role model for younger kids. From school to church, Bullock puts 100 percent into everything he undertakes. Whether decorating his church, St. Anne’s Church in Parish, for Christmas or rambling for nearly 200 yards in a game, Bullock tries hard and it shows. “Jim is one of the most polite, likeable and coachable kids I’ve ever met. On the field, he is an intense player. Off the field, he’s very concerned about each member of the team,” said Mark Potter, head coach of the varsity baseball team and athletic director at A-P-W. “No matter what he does, he will do well beyond high school. He’s very motivated.”
Bullock has excelled at both football and baseball. Bullock finished his high school football career with over 1,500 yards rushing. As one of the team’s tailbacks, Bullock took his share of physical punishment over the four years but also dished some out. He received the team’s offensive Most Valuable Player award and was named to the first-team All-League Defense. “My last football game was against Hannibal, one of our rivals. We beat them pretty good,” Bullock recalled. “I rushed for 197 yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns. All we ran were draw plays. They couldn’t stop us. It was a great game.” Bullock also spends a fair amount of time on the baseball diamond. He moved from the infield to catcher for the varsity team this season. He has enjoyed the position change, saying he’ll play wherever he can. “Last year, the baseball team won the league championship. It was a lot of fun,” said Bullock of his team’s accomplishments. “This year, we didn’t win the league, but we made sectionals. We had a great year, though. As a senior, you just try and go out, do your best. It’s your senior year and you don’t get another chance.”
Bullock talked about his first memories of sports. “When I was a little kid, I got my first baseball glove for Easter. That was a pretty big deal for me,” he said. “I watched football on television and I always wanted to play. I played Pop Warner football and my interest just grew from there.” Family support is very important for this senior. Bullock beams with pride when he talked about his two younger brothers, ninth grader Chris and seventh grader Nick. He feels his brothers are unaffected by his success. “Chris just goes out there and plays hard. He doesn’t let anything get to him. But Nick thinks it’s great, but he’s always trying to beat me in everything. He’ll probably be the tallest one of us in the end,” he said. Bullock said his parents have always been there for him. “My mom and dad, Barbara and Steve, are my biggest supporters. They are really great,” explained Bullock. Giving back to his church has been a priority for Bullock. He helps setup for parish events, clean the church, and supervise many of the younger kids. He also was an altar server at the church in past years. “I wish I could do more things, but we are a small church. We don’t have a youth group, but if we had one I would have signed up,” said Bullock.
Although Bullock said his future is uncertain, he is glad to accept The Catholic SUN Male Athlete of the Year Award. “This is really cool,” he said. “Sometimes I don’t get recognized because I’m quiet. I’ve been given awards before, but nothing like this. It’s nice to have someone out to our little school.”
Regional athletes of the year North Female: Katie Healy, senior, St. Patrick’s Church, Williamstown; A-P-W High School, Parish — soccer, softball
North Male: Jim Bullock, senior, St. Anne’s Church, Parish; A-P-W High School, Parish
South Female: Molly McManus, senior, St. Patrick’s Church, Binghamton; Seton Catholic Central High School, Binghamton — soccer, basketball
South Female: Troy Nickerson, sophomore, St. Rita’s Church, Chenango Forks — wrestling, cross country
East Female: Lorrie Cardwell, senior, St. Mary’s Church, Rome; Rome Catholic High School, Rome — soccer, basketball, softball
East Male: Brian Converse, senior, St. Joseph’s/St. Patrick’s Church, Utica — basketball
West Female: Ashley DeMaio-Zacharek, junior, Immaculate Conception Church, Fayetteville; Christian Brothers Academy, Syracuse — swimming
West Male: Thad Lenkiewicz, St. Ann’s Church, Syracuse; Westhill High School, Syracuse — basketball, baseball
Special Mention Athletes Females: Shannon McAdam, senior, St. James Church, Syracuse; Fowler High School, Syracuse — volleyball Megan Phillips, junior, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Windsor — field hockey, softball, volleyball Lindsay Kolceski, sophomore, Our Lady of Peace Church, Lakeland — soccer, indoor and outdoor track Elizabeth Sierotnik, junior, Holy Family Church, Fairmount; Bishop Ludden High School, Syracuse — basketball, lacrosse Kelly Niland, senior, Christian Brothers Academy — soccer, basketball
Males: Andy Maciag, senior, Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, Verona; Holy Cross Academy, Durhamville — soccer, basketball John Gosney, senior, St. John the Evangelist Church, Binghamton; Seton Catholic Central High School, Binghamton — football, basketball, baseball, golf Joe Talbut, senior, Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Vestal — basketball Conor Talbut, senior, Our Lady of Sorrows Church, Vestal — basketball Mike Brown, senior, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, Baldwinsville — hockey Greg Paulus, sophomore, Holy Cross Church, Dewitt; Christian Brothers Academy, Syracuse — football, basketball Past Athlete of the Year recipients: 2002 Elizabeth Shaw St. Mary’s, Mexico Steve Wallace St. Casimir’s, Endicott 2001 Erin Grande St. Paul’s, Rome Jarett Park St. Patrick’s, Otisco