For nearly four decades Kathy Majeski’s message to the girls she coached in sports has been simple.
Take advantage of opportunities, take chances and do great things in the game of life.
Lancaster High alumnae Julie Buccieri was one of those young females who through Majeski’s guidance found the path that not only helped her realize her potential but also put her in a position to aid the next crop of female athletes at Lancaster to do the same.
It is for that reason that the Lancaster girls lacrosse team’s Senior Day on Saturday was more than just an opportunity for coach Buccieri and company to honor the athletes who gave their all in helping the Legends attain success during their time with the program. It was also one last chance to say good-bye to Majeski – the Founding Mother of the program who walks off into a life of retirement effective July 1. Schools are closed for the rest of the academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Majeski worked for 31 of her 38 years as a physical education and health teacher with the Lancaster School District. She started and guided the school’s varsity girls lacrosse team from 1995-2005, leading the program to five Section VI titles. She also coached field hockey from 1989-2010, leading the team to eight state tournament appearances.
She coached modified co-ed swimming from 1999-2020 as well as field hockey (2018-19) and girls lacrosse (2015-20). The coronavirus pandemic prematurely ended her final spring on the sideline.
It didn’t thwart Buccieri’s goal of finding a way to honor Majeski.
“Our whole plan all along was we were going to do something at her last modified game she coached -- maybe a dinner,” Buccieri said. “When all this happened (the Covid-19 pandemic), I was like we needed to find a great way to honor her. When we were brainstorming how to honor the seniors, we were like we could kind of kill two birds with one stone. She coached a lot of these girls on modified and taught them.”
In non-pandemic times, Senior Day would have taken place on Lancaster’s home field before parents and fans in pleasant weather conditions.
In this era of social distancing, the Legends held a motorcade parade on a cold, and rare snowy day in May -- featuring an escort from fire trucks and police vehicles passing by the homes of the Legends’ seniors. All eight had their respective jersey number painted on their lawns by the school’s groundskeeper – including Maddie Mazur, a three-time All-Western New York player who will play for St. Bonaventure in college.
The procession of between 45-50 vehicles honking horns with some players braving the cold by leaning out of SUV windows or standing up through open sunroofs cheered loudly – especially when they reached their surprise destination in nearby Elma. Majeski did not know the parade would be passing her home. Buccieri told her it was rescheduled for next week due to cold weather.
Majeski thought she was waiting outside to watch her friend’s father’s towing company transporting big trucks past the house. The little boy who lives next door loves big trucks. She wanted to see the joy on the lad’s face during the event.
Instead it was shock and happiness etched on her face once the motorcade stopped by her driveway. Buccieri stepped out of the family vehicle and gave Majeski a gift and “accidental hug.”
“It just sort of happened,” Buccieri said. “I kind of forgot about the no hugging thing and then one of the modified girls gave her a sign. It was emotional.”
Majeski received more gifts, flowers and signs. Buccieri also emailed a video message from alumni and colleagues wishing Majeski well and congratulating her on retirement.
“I had no idea,” Majeski said. “When I saw cars and then Julie i was like ‘Oh my God.’ … I had people who drove by I had their mom as a field hockey player and then I taught both of her daughters in class. … I heard back from kids all the way back to the 90s.
“My message was to have the kids learn on the field … I wanted all of my girls to understand that the lessons they learned could change their life. That’s what I learned loud and clear from the video Julie put together. … As a coach and teacher you never really know what the students become in their adult life. It’s great to hear they took the lessons and the experiences they learned from playing or in school and grew from it and are happy.”
Majeski's career that began in Ohio after graduating from The College of Wooster. She played field hockey at Wooster, helping the team reach three national tournaments.
She also taught briefly in Texas before returning to Western New York.
So how did Majeski impact Buccieri’s life?
Buccieri, who entered the season having guided the Legends to 12 Section VI titles, did not really know what she was going to do with life after high school. She had no plans for going to college let alone become an educator.
That is until Majeski pointed her in the right direction.
“She came to me and said after my sophomore year playing, she said I think you’re going to go and play lacrosse in college, going to be a teacher and a coach and take over for me someday. I said ‘are you crazy like what are you talking about?’” Buccieri said. “She pushed me and my parents to this day are thank you for Majeski. … She had so much faith in me and confidence in me before I had it in myself. She had more faith in me than I had in myself and I’m so thankful for that.”
Buccieri isn’t the only one.
“I was very lucky to be able to come back and my goal was to inspire my athletes to take a chance,” Majeski said. “I have been blessed to be able to work with such great young women, see them mature.’