Andrew Kennedy has led a life of soccer, science and service working toward conquering the divide between us and them. He began playing soccer for Webster Soccer at the age of 5. Since then he has played for Webster Soccer club, FC Dynamo and Lakefront Soccer Club, serving as the team captain of his teams on 4 different occasions. His high school playing career was notable in that he was not only the team captain 3 of the 5 years he was involved but also was named to the Monroe County All Stars, The All Rochester First team and the All State Soccer team in 2018.

He became a referee in 2013 and has since been at the NYSW State Cup final four in 2018 and 2019. In 2018 his performance at state cup earned him a last second appointment to the 2018 Regional Championships and in 2019 he attended both the Region 1 ODP Tournament as well as the Regional Championships. He is currently on our list of officials doing local academy games assigned by US Soccer as well as earning his upgrade to allow him to do affiliated adult games. He has been mentoring new referees in the Rochester area for the last 2 years.

Academically, he is currently enrolled in the Binghamton University Undergraduate Research program where he is involved with the types of projects and research generally reserved for Graduate students. His last project involved collaborating with a research group to create anoxic microcosms for study of arsenic, antimony and sulfur consumption by purple sulfur bacteria found in Green Lakes State Park. After only one year in the program, he has been elevated to lead several research groups and works as a teaching assistant in the program helping new students learn the processes and techniques that are being used in the program. In addition to his primary work in chemistry, he is pursuing a minor in Spanish and is an active participant in the University Orchestra and the Graduation Band. With his overall GPA of 3.807, he was inducted into the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor society in the fall of 2018.

Outside of school, he has been very involved in music, scouting and his church. For his church he volunteered at the Asbury First United Methodist Church Storehouse and volunteered to take part in the Asbury First United Methodist Youth Fellowship Annual Work Trip four times. As a musician he was the first trombonist for the National Assocition for Music Educators Symphony orchestra, The New York State School Music Association All State Symphony Orchestra as well as the area All State and All County Ensembles. He has also worked part time as a landscaper and for the Penfield Central School District and set up tents and delivered materials for a local rental company.

He brought all of his worlds together when he decided to become an Eagle Scout. In December of 2015, his church and many other communities of faith got together for a City Sing for Peace. While at the festival, he noticed that most of the people involved were older. He thought that was a shame and unsustainable for any period of time. For his Eagle Scout Project he came up with, organized and chaired A Conversation on Faith in 2016. This involved organizing a potluck with 85 high school students he recruited from 5 different religions, preparing open ended questions for 10 round table discussions and brought in faith leaders of different religions to help facilitate the discussion. As if that was not enough, the next time he volunteered for the Youth Day of Service he used his contacts from the previous event to organize a musical event that evening featuring music and musicians from the Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Mormon community in an effort to help “us” understand and cooperate with “them.”

His college professor wrote “Andrew has demonstrated that he is resilient, detail-oriented, and a fine leader. Not only was he instrumental in the success of his own project when unforeseen (and unrelated) circumstances reduced their number by two, but he is one of the best peer mentors I have worked with. He has a knack for guiding students to find answers without simply telling them the knowledge they are seeking.”

One of his coaches noted “I’m proud that someone with Andrew’s characteristics and love and respect for the game of soccer has chosen to be a referee. With his background in soccer, he knows the game. With his hard work, he will strive to improve to reach the next level. With his intelligence he will learn the intricacies of applying the laws of the game. With his scouting background he will ensure fair play and know the difference between spirit of the game and letter of the law. Andrew is a person who will become an excellent role model and mentor to future young referees.”

He strives to bring us all together, which in my mind is perhaps the most important thing that any human being can work toward which is why Andrew Kennedy is the New York State West Youth Soccer Association's Young Male Referee of the Year.

UPDATE: Andrew was also named the USYSA Eastern Region Young Male Referee of the Year AND the USYSA National Young Male Referee of the Year. Congratulations, Andrew!
Some people might think, upon looking at her background, that somehow Gabriella D’Ambrosio was “born to it.” It would be a reasonable misconception... after all, her grandparents were born in Naples and came to this country in their twenties and assured that she had a soccer ball at her feet most of the time from the day she was born. But there is far more to the story than that.

She went to High School at Churchville-Chili where she was the vice-president of the Student Council for 3 years, inducted into the National Honor Society, the Foreign Language Honor Society and won several awards including the Foreign Language Honor Award, the AP Biology Award and the Living Environment Award. She graduated with an Advanced Regents Diploma in June of 2018. From there she went on to St John’s Fisher college where she has been on the dean’s list in both of her first two semesters and is a member of the Student Conduct Committee and attended the student ethics dinner. She hopes to graduate from college with a bachelor of science in nursing specializing in either maternity or pediatric oncology and continue to work and live in Rochester.

Gabriella first became a referee in 2014 and now has 6 years of experience. She also certified as a futsal referee and so that she can officiate the game she loves year round as well as improve her skills on the field.

She started to play organized soccer at the age of 8 and played for 9 years for the Chili Soccer Association, one year for the Rochester Jr. Rhinos and another for the Rochester Futbol Club. She played for 3 years on her HS varsity soccer team and found time to also be the manager for the Varsity Softball team, a sport she had to learn from scratch having never been involved. She is currently playing on the women’s varsity soccer team at St. John Fisher where she divides her time playing for the team and volunteering to coach goal keepers for the Rochester Junior Rhinos as well as playing for a women’s team in the summer. She looks forward to her coaching as she hopes to spark the same love of the game that she has into the younger players that she oversees.

Outside of school she has also volunteered quite a bit of time to her church, St. Theodore’s where she is a lector, alter server and has been a camp counselor for their vacation bible school for several years, last year leading the arts and crafts section of the camp deciding what the campers would do as well as teaching them how to complete their works of art. Additionally she was in girl scouts completing both her bronze and silver awards, volunteered for the Breast Cancer Walk in the city of Rochester as well as the Luau for Lustgarten at St. John Fisher College rasing money for pancreatic cancer research.

One of her teacher’s commented that “Gabriella exhibits strengths that several of her teachers often commented on. She is a hard working individual who expects the best from herself and those around her. I have observed a student-athlete that constantly sets high standards for herself and always exceeds them. I know her to be one of the most honest and reliable members of a team who cares about and respects every member of the team regardless of who they are.” An example of how much she cares about her team is best illustrated when as a player last fall, her college coach wanted all of the players on the team to run a very challenging fitness test. Gabriella ran the test with the first wave of players and passed it. As she was watching the second group of players complete the first lap, she noticed one of her teammates was having trouble with the test after the first lap. Without giving it a second thought she went back onto the track and ran the test again keeping pace with her teammate helping her complete the test successfully.

No she wasn’t born to it... she earned it, which is why Gabriella D'Ambrosio is the New York State West Youth Soccer Association's Young Female Referee of the Year.
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