Bronxville Varsity Football Team Captain Matthias Ribka Wins Phil Kuczma Award

Coach Phil Kuczma and Captain Matthias Ribka
Coach Phil Kuczma and Captain Matthias Ribka

At a recent year-end Bronxville football dinner, senior captain Matthias Ribka was the recipient of the Phil Kuczma Award, named in honor of the esteemed Bronxville varsity football assistant coach Phil Kuczma.  Matthias Ribka was a three-year, two-way starter on the varsity football team, and also a member, as a freshman, of the 2010 Section One, Class C State Championship Team.  Bronxville High School will graduate the remaining two members of this team in June 2014. 

The Phil Kuczma Award is named in honor of the beloved and revered varsity assistant football coach Phil Kuczma.  Mr. Kuczma has been the Bronxville varsity football assistant coach (under Vito Priore from 1974-1986, Bill Magner from 1987-1997 and 2003-2005, and Jeff Napolitano from 2006-present.)  From 1969-1973, Coach Kuczma was the Rye Neck High School varsity football assistant coach, as well as the Rye Neck High School varsity baseball head coach.  From 1973-1997, Coach Kuczma was the Bronxville varsity football assistant coach, and also the Bronxville varsity baseball head coach.  Mr. Kuczma was also a science teacher at Rye Neck High and Middle Schools from 1969-1973, and from 1973-1997, a science teacher at Bronxville High and Middle Schools.  In 1998, Phil Kuczma officially retired, but returned for a year to coach Bronxville girls varsity softball and teach physical sciences at Bronxville High School  part time.  From 1998-2003, Coach Kuczma taught science as a leave replacement and substitute teacher at Bronxville, Putnam Valley and North Salem High Schools. 

History of the Phil Kuczma Award:

The Phil Kuczma Award was initiated after the 2011 season by a Bronco football parent and the Bronxville Athletic Council to honor the much admired coach and teacher.  Coach Kuczma stated that the primary importance of the award was to show how the Bronco long-standing motto “PRIDE-SACRIFICE-DESIRE” was not only exhibited on the football field, but in other facets of the honoree’s life, both in and out of school.  The application of these three ideals expands outward into the other influential realms of the honoree’s life.  Next, the honoree must use his intelligence as a pedestal to foster patience, honesty and personal responsibility.  Beyond this core, comes the incorporation of his inner self, emotion in the variety of situations he faces both on and off the field.  Can he remain HUMBLE in the face of praise as well as criticism, and can he be SENSITIVE when it comes to the feelings of others?  If the answers are affirmative, then these attributes should be evident in his role as LEADER, MENTOR, STUDENT and ATHLETE.  Finally, the consideration is his contribution to the DEFENSIVE Philosophy and schemes developed over the years.  The recipient should have demonstrated a knowledge and belief inherent in the Bronco way of playing defense, and conduct himself on the field with dignity and class.  The honoree must show that he has Bronco spirit from the inside and out. 

Coach Kuczma felt that Matthias Ribka was most deserving of this award after the 2013 season for his achievements both on and off the field throughout his high school career.  Matthias was a three year, two-way starter on the football team, as a defensive and offensive lineman, and a four year member of the team.  Throughout Matthias’ football career, he received All-League distinction once, and All-League Honorable Mention distinction twice.  He was a member of the 2010 State Championship Team.  Matthias is also a four-year member of the varsity track and field team as a shot-putter.  He was a member of the JV lacrosse team freshman and sophomore years, and was captain his sophomore year.  He is a two year member of “SHA! Cappella,” an exclusive A Capella group.  He is a vocal soloist in the Bronxville Music Department, and the recipient of the highest scores in the NYSMMA competitions.  Matthias is a thespian and playing the character Moose, one of the lead cowboys, in the upcoming February Bronxville High School musical “Crazy for You.”    He was class VP freshman year.  In his sophomore year, Matthias was awarded the Bronxville High School “Citizenship Award,” and in his junior year, Matthias was awarded the “Certificate of Merit for Classroom Leadership” throughout the school year.

After winning the Phil Kuczma Award on December 8th, Matthias stated, “I am honored to receive this award from a coach I highly respect, who is very dear to me, and who I have known for many years.  The traits that the award celebrates are traits that are of utmost importance to me, and I feel honored to be recognized for these qualities.  I couldn’t think of a better way to end my high school football career.”             

Written by Jane Elizabeth Ircha

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