MEXICO — Kendall Cuyler doesn’t like to slow down when it comes to extracurricular activities.
Already a multi-sport student athlete at Mexico Academy and Central Schools, Cuyler is adding another activity to her plate for her junior year.
Cuyler was selected to be the female Section III representative in the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), which was established to promote safety, sportsmanship and leadership.
After missing out on her sophomore softball season due to the coronavirus pandemic, Cuyler is hoping all student-athletes are able to return to regular competition in the upcoming school year.
“I want (student-athletes) to have the opportunity to actually play sports this year,” the 16-year-old said. “I want to give those kids who play sports … something to look forward to this year. It’s going to break a lot of hearts if we can’t play sports like we always do, and it’s going to break traditions. It’s something I don’t want to get away from.”
Cuyler ran across an advertisement for the committee on social media earlier in the summer and applied ahead of the May deadline. Last month, while she was working at Fair Haven Beach State Park, the good news arrived in her inbox.
“I talked to my parents and they encouraged me to try it. … I filled out the application, but I wasn’t really confident because I knew how big Section III is, all the big athletes we have or how many females applied,” Cuyler said. “I was like ‘It’s OK if I don’t get it, but I’m going to take the shot.’
“I was so surprised when I got the email while I was at work. I about jumped out of my shoes.”
Mexico Athletic Director Andrew Gates said he believes Cuyler will be a strong addition to the board because of her strong work ethic not only on the field, but in the classroom.
“I think it is a huge honor for Kendall to represent our district on the student-athlete advisory committee,” Gates said. “She is a true student-athlete who works as hard in the classroom as she does on her athletics. Kendall will bring that same work ethic to the committee, sharing ideas and contributing greatly. At Mexico, we are all very proud of her selection for this position and we look forward to her continued commitment to excellence.”
Mexico softball coach Andrew MacDonald said Cuyler’s time management skills have made her a student-athlete that excels on and off the field. Cuyler is third in her class academically and garnered all-league honors for her work at shortstop for the Tigers.
“She’s definitely a hard worker and I’m fortunate that her favorite sport is softball,” MacDonald said. “She puts in the extra time on fielding … she puts in the extra time in hitting and she’s the real deal. As a freshman, she had some critical hits that helped us win games. She’s better under pressure and she produced the clutch RBIs when we needed it, and that’s not always an easy thing to do.”
Cuyler said she expects the first SAAC meeting to be held online in September. Right now she’s focused on playing travel softball with the UNY Revolution out of Rochester.
“It feels good. I hit the ground running,” Cuyler said. “I got a notification around July 1 that our tournaments were going to be on. I hit the fields hard and I got my swings in. … The first games I struggled a little with live pitching since I hadn’t seen a live pitch since the fall, but it was nice. I got to see my friends from different schools.”
With fall sports delayed until at least Sept. 21 and many plans for local high school still up in the air, it may be a little bit of time before Cuyler is able to suit up for the Tigers, whether it’s softball, basketball, soccer, swimming and diving, or tennis — a sport she may take up if only low-risk sports are allowed to begin with.
Cuyler said that whatever happens, she wants to stay as active and busy as possible.
“You’re in a routine. When you’re a student-athlete, you’re constantly going and you don’t take a break. It’s very rigorous,” she said. “Having a break wasn’t really a breath of fresh air. It feels weird to me and I didn’t like it. I like going 24/7, 365 days a year.”