OSWEGO – Rhonda Bullard has had a strong presence for the Oswego High School athletics community and may soon have the opportunity to expand its influence.
The 49-year-old Oswego sports director is one of 15 finalists competing for the title “Ms. Health & Fitness 2021 ”, with a feature spot on the cover of Muscle & Fitness Hers magazine and a grand prize of US $ 20,000.
Bullard can vote in the world’s largest online fitness competition through their profile page at mshealthandfitness.com/2021/Rhonda-bul until June 24th. Then the field is reduced to 10 candidates. The public online voting will take place over several phases until a winner is announced on August 5th.
Bullard took second place in their group in the total number of votes on Friday afternoon. Votes can be cast for free every 24 hours by logging into Facebook via the link, or purchased with a donation, part of which goes to the Wounded Warrior Project.
“I think it’s just a wonderful opportunity and whatever the end result, I’m extremely humble,” said Bullard. “No matter what, whoever gets it, we are all winners. We all have something to share with people who can connect with each of us who has the opportunity to be on the cover. “
If she can ultimately win the competition, Bullard has vowed to invest a portion of her profits in restoring recreational programs in Oswego and possibly looking into building an indoor facility to house them.
Bullard spoke of working with the City of Oswego, community organizations like the YMCA, or possibly starting a nonprofit to help children in Oswego and the surrounding area like Phoenix, Central Square, Fulton, Mexico, and Hannibal, among others.
Born in Minetto in the Oswego district, she fondly remembered the moments when she had attended the leisure program in the former area during her childhood.
“It gave me opportunities that I wouldn’t necessarily have had,” said Bullard. “I remember not only attending various sporting events, but also seeing the play ‘Dracula’ in Oswego, and you are just exposed to these other extracurricular activities that parents may not be able to afford. They love art, music, athletics, and I think that’s one of the things our community really needs to return to. “
Bullard is a 1990 graduate of Oswego High School and is completing her fourth year as an athletic director at her alma mater. She previously spent 20 years in public education in Ithaca before her position was cut in 2015 due to budget cuts.
Bullard began training at the Police College at the age of 42 and worked as a patrolman for the Cornell Police for two years before returning to Oswego to take on her current role as leader of the Buccaneers.
“I liked that, but I really wanted to get back into public education,” said Bullard. “I missed children and other things, so I came back here to my hometown and I think it’s like they say, once a book is always a book.”
Along her career path, Bullard has earned certification as a personal trainer, weight loss specialist, and nutritionist. As she grew up, she participated in swimming, volleyball, soccer, and softball, and played the latter sport at Oswego State University and Brockport College.
Bullard joined a fitness center when he moved to Ithaca after college to network in an unfamiliar setting, and sparked a keen interest in training, endurance competitions, and racing that has not yet faltered. She is also active in the community’s softball leagues each year.
Bullard said she changes her training routines often and has studied a variety of techniques, always training independently.
“I just like to change things up because I think you never want to get complacent about anything, so I’m not part of a really organized group, I just go to the gym and do myself,” Bullard said. “It seems to be working well and I’ve had great success with it. I’ve always enjoyed pushing myself to see where my limits are. “
Bullard has participated in a variety of triathlons, marathons, trail runs, mud races, and fat bike races across the state over the past few years while traveling to areas such as Hawaii, Vermont, and New Jersey to compete in the Spartan Races obstacle races. She took the title of Spartan Ultra Beast Women’s Champion in Vermont in 2014.
Bullard later finished first in her class and in the Masters Over 40 Division at the 2017 National Physique Committee (NPC) New York Capitol Championships in the only figure competition she competed in.
“I feel like fitness has done a lot for me mentally and physically, socially and emotionally,” said Bullard. “I was able to network and travel with a lot of people.”
Over the past year, Bullard has done more trail running and was the best female finisher in the last three races of the Salt City Trail Runs, a series of challenging events with different structures.
She regularly participates in annual charity and community outings such as the Make it Happen 20K Race Series, Oswego YMCA Harbourfest 5K, and Run for the Pies, and often participates with students in the Oswego District.
“I always try to do something community-related and be visible, I think it’s important, especially in my role (as athletic director),” said Bullard.
“I try to be very easy to get along with and I want people to feel comfortable talking to me about fitness, and in my role that’s great because I have a lot of student-athletes that I am good role models for can. “She added.
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