New Haven -- The JVF is proud to share our annual selection of All-JVF Athletes, and our 2023 JVF Athlete of the year!
Over the course of 2023, we have witnessed incredible performances, feats, and achievement from our athletes, we are so happy to recognize some of them today, and we hope you will join us in sending them our heartfelt congratulations!
2023 Athlete of the Year
Taya Buntin Cheshire High School Women's Field Hockey
During the most consequential period in the history of JVF athletics, Taya Buntin, the "unicorn", alongside the other captains, and her teammates, took the entire organization to an unprecedented level of excellence on and off the field. Her smile, her technical brilliance as a field hockey player, and her endless compassion for everyone around her has established a new standard for leadership at the James Vick Foundation.
In some of the biggest games the foundation has ever seen, in any sport, Taya provided both a face, and a rallying cry for a team on the verge of stardom, she exemplified the ideals of the foundation, pushed her teammates and organizational leadership to be better, and ushered in a new era of JVF athletics.
Taya Buntin, of Cheshire Connecticut, and now a star forward for Western New England University Field Hockey, is our Mia Hamm, and now, she is the 2023 JVF Athlete of the year.
2023 All JVF Team
Keira Best Staples High School Women's Lacrosse
The dynamo from Westport cemented herself as the greatest girl's lacrosse player the James Vick Foundation has ever seen. A Davidson Women's lacrosse commit, Keira led the Westport Women's Lacrosse team to an unbelievable third Fall Lacrosse Series title in four years. A face of women's lacrosse in Connecticut, Ms. Best carries the hopes and dreams of our foundation on her sturdy shoulders, she is everything you would want in a student athlete, a human being that impacted our organization in a way few have. After playing her Senior season for Staples High School, she will head to Davidson North Carolina to play Division 1 lacrosse. Keira's abilities as a competitor, her demeanor as a citizen, and her development into a leader has been a joy to watch.
"Ary" Wilson Branford High School Womens Field Hockey/Lacrosse/Ice Hockey
The most versatile athlete in Connecticut sports shined again in 2023. Displaying a flare, and a sense of leadership that helped carry the JVF Field Hockey program to magnificent heights. Anchoring an all-time great defense during the Yale Series, "Ary" left no doubt that the JVF Field Hockey program was one on the rise, she played the entire season, didn't miss any time, inspired her teammates, and took her place in the pantheon of generational JVF athletes. A quiet loving soul, Ary's impact on the James Vick Foundation is unique, special, and will be missed. The Branford product is now playing Ice Hockey for Salva Regina University, getting minutes on a team with a chance to win.
Rylie Daly Simsbury High School Women's Field Hockey
The gazelle from Simsbury furnished one of the more stunning displays of sustained excellence in 2023. A stalwart of the JVF Dragons, Riley's talent, and physical dimensions were unparalleled on the Field Hockey Field, her gifts gave her team a chance to compete with some of the best teams in the country. The Simsbury's natives conduct on the field hockey field is only matched by her humble and kind nature, a salt of the earth personality. Rylie led the JVF Field Hockey program to its first ever tournament championship this past summer, instigating a surprising run at the Surf and Sands College Showcase with college coaches in attendance. The victory was the biggest in program history to date, and at the center of it, was the amazing, unassuming, incredibly talented, Rylie Daly.
Payton Kamienski North Branford High School Women's Field Hockey
Among the more important figures in the history of JVF Sports, Payton finalized her legacy with the organization in 2023. She was among the first athletes to walk through the doors a few years ago and has presided over the unlikely rise of JVF athletics. Aside from being one of the best defensive field hockey players in the country, Payton also is an unbelievable advocate for the organization in general. She is the first to show up, the last to leave. Her instinct at the conclusion of a practice, or game, is to clean up after her teammates. It's beyond leadership, it's more a mother to everyone, a steady hand during uncertain times. In 2023, amid the game changing move to Yale University, Payton supplied leadership, support, athletic excellence, and a sense of pride to her program. Her place in JVF history, her legacy, will forever be celebrated by anyone that was lucky enough to play with her.
2023 Breakout Athlete of the Year
Kayla Wilonski Sacred Heart Academy Women's Field Hockey/Lacrosse
Joining the JVF in the winter of 2023, Kayla has done nothing but win. She was the clear breakout star in 2023, becoming one of the best field hockey players to come out of Wallingford in a long time. Her team won the 2023 JVF Winter League, she was awarded the 2023 JVF Winter League MVP, she played a massive role in the success of the JVF Dragons this past spring, emerging as one of the best field hockey players in the country. This past fall she was 1st team All-SCC, helped lead Sacred Heart Academy to the SCC Championship game, and has been deeply involved in the recruiting process. She enters 2024 as one of the clear faces of the entire organization, at the helm of a program that is seeking to make even more history. Kayla is a darling of a human being. Loved and respected by teammates, and coaches alike. The Senior Captain will now, alongside the other captains, get to carve out her own legacy with the JVF.