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Majka Named Chautauqua Lake’s Athlete Of Year

Chautauqua Lake’s Kyler Majka delivers to the plate during a baseball game earlier this spring.

File photo

MAYVILLE — Chautauqua Lake has been on quite a run of developing star athletes worthy of statewide recognition. As both a star athlete and a leader, Kyler Majka certainly deserves whatever honor he may receive. The latest of such honors came last week, when Chautauqua Lake Central School selected Majka as its Athlete of the Year for the 2018-19 school year.

“It was an honor to be selected as Athlete of the Year at CLCS,” said Majka. “These past four years have shown me that with hard work and determination, anyone can meet their goal.”

Majka, a three-sport athlete, was a starting quarterback in the fall on the Chautauqua Lake/Westfield Thunderbirds football team and a starting guard on the Chautauqua Lake basketball team, but really stood out as the ace pitcher for the Thunderbirds baseball team, as a five-year starter.

“Kyler is very deserving of being named CLCS Athlete of the Year,” said Chautauqua Lake baseball coach Bryan Bongiovanni. “In his time at Chautauqua Lake, he excelled at three sports, especially baseball.”

Majka’s final time on the pitcher’s mound was a fitting end to his time at Chautauqua Lake, as the senior star pitcher threw a complete game shutout to shock the top seeded Holland, 2-0, in the Section VI Class C playoffs.

“Kyler was phenomenal today as he is an example of what hard work can do for you,” Bongiovanni said after the game. “There is no fazing him. When you have a talent and leadership on the mound, it is definitely an advantage for us. To see his maturation over the past four years has been special.”

Following in the footsteps of his former teammate and friend Devin Pope, Majka excelled during his senior season as not only a star athlete, but also as a leader. Majka was a captain of all three teams, including four straight years as a captain on the baseball team.

“The great thing about Kyler is he’s so much more than an athlete. He’s a great young man on and off the field. He’s a natural leader that other people gravitate to and want to follow,” said Bongiovanni.

No better example of Majka’s leadership, both on and off the field, was his involvement with honoring Drake McKane, a middle school boy at CLCS who was diagnosed with leukemia. Majka and teammate Zach Fischer helped name McKane as an honorary captain for a Chautauqua Lake/Westfield football game in the fall for the team’s home opener on Sept. 1 against Allegany-Limestone. Majka helped organize the same honor for a basketball game against Olean on Jan. 24, which the team made a charity game in McKane’s honor.

“I wanted to do that again, not only to help Drake but also to get the word out there that we can make a difference,” Majka said at the time of the event. “Little things help a lot.”

In terms of on-the-field prowess, Majka’s list of honors continues to grow. In addition to all of the accolades he currently has received, Majka is also eligible as a finalist for the Colpoys-Barrows Cup, given to the WNY High School Baseball Player of the Year. He was also selected as a First Team All-Star in CCAA Division 1 West baseball a year ago, and is expected to be listed once again when the honors are announced in the coming days. Majka also threw a no-hitter earlier this season in a win over Cassadaga Valley.

“It was a pleasure being his coach the past few years and I’m beyond excited to see where life takes him. Wherever it is, success will follow,” said Bongiovanni.

Majka shared Bongiovanni’s sentiments, noting that the bigger picture of where he goes in life is even more important than his long list of athletic accomplishments.

“Athletic ability, in time, will fade. Your character over a lifetime is what really matters,” Majka said.

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