Tonawanda News — They say heart beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.
Gabe Boldinski had both — which is why the Kenmore East senior is the Tonawanda News Player of the Year for softball.
The epitome of what it meant to lead by example, Boldinski was the kind of girl who, through her actions and intensity, set the tone and showed her teammates what it meant to be a varsity athlete.
“I knew that since I’m leaving next year somebody was going to have to step up and play that (role),” Boldinski said. “I figured I’d show them what the coaches expect and what they need to do. I wanted to mature more and show them I’m better than the year before.”
Boldinski certainly lived up to that goal in more ways than one. The Bulldogs’ starting shortstop and tri-captain-with Jaclyn Bellanti and Gabby Johns, Boldinski was the anchor of the defense and team leader in four out of six major offensive categories.
Gabe led the Lady Bulldogs in batting average (.441), on-base percentage (.529), slugging (.596) and runs (17). Her two home runs were second on the team and 17 RBI ranked third.
While the numbers were impressive it was the intangibles that made Boldinski stand out. The best example of Boldinski’s heart came in a home game against North Tonawanda on April 27.
The Bulldogs were holding a 15-run lead and needed just one out to close out the game. A pop up to left was clearly going foul. With the game clearly in hand, Boldinski went in hot pursuit of the ball and attempted a diving stab at it-falling just a few inches shy of making the grab.
Boldinski may not have caught the ball, but she wowed everyone with her effort. Especially NT coach Cheryl O’Connor, who said she hoped her team learned a little something about giving it their all every play by watching Boldinski.
“For her to be intense every inning, whether we were up by 14 runs or down by 12 or 14 runs. She always had the same intensity and the same hustle and that is one of the reasons she was our captain. Because that’s the type of leader that you need,” Ken East coach Sara Colombo said.”She never let up.”
Boldinski was also a big part of cultivating the family bond this team had.
“We were definitely a different team this year than last year,” Boldinski said. “I felt like we were all together. It wasn’t clicky. ... We felt like a family.”
Boldinski, who also played soccer and basketball at East, will continue her soccer career at Buffalo State College.
As Gabe prepares for her next phase of life she reflected on the positive impact the coaches at Ken East had on her life. As well as her teammates like best friend Jessica Hyland. Most of all Gabe Boldinski exits hoping that she left a positive impact on Lady Bulldogs athletics.
“Being a senior, it doesn’t really hit you that the end of the season is coming that this is the last time you’re doing this or that,” Boldinski explained. “You just want to do your best. To leave an impact so that no one will forget you. They’ll know what you did and your hard work.”