(Photo Credit: Rich Barnes/USA Today Sports)
By Jeff Fasoldt @Jeff_Fasoldt
I was born in a small town.
Avon, New York is only about 15 miles from Rochester. But, jump on the thruway and 75 minutes later you’re in Orange country.
I am one of thousands (if not millions) of people who have Syracuse Orange flowing through my veins. My grandparents went to Syracuse, and my dad, uncle and aunt all grew up there. Today, I have more family that still lives in Otto’s land than anywhere else, and I was raised loyal to the Orange.
That being said, however, Syracuse University was not for me. Don’t get me wrong, if I had the opportunity to go to the Newhouse School of Journalism (probably one of the top three communications schools in the country with alumni that go by the names of Bob Costas and Mike Tirico) then I would’ve been there in a heartbeat, but I didn’t have the grades.
Instead, coming from a small town, I decided to focus on applying to smaller schools—Ithaca, Cortland, RIT, St. John Fisher and that little school in Olean, NY.
When I trudged through the snow on a tour of St. Bonaventure University’s campus, I fell in love with the architecture of the buildings, the family like atmosphere and most of all the ability to cover NCAA Division I sports as a little freshman.
As an aspiring young sports writer, the opportunity to cover Division I sports was mesmerizing. St. Bonaventure University, it would be.
From the day I arrived on campus, I was swooped into being a fan of the Bonnies. I admired the way Charlon Kloof played the game with pure athleticism and how consistent Dion Wright was as a forward. It was clear to me, Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt knew exactly how to build a good team at a small school with a small budget- impressive to say the least.
However, I also watched every single Syracuse game that year and went to the NCAA Tournament game at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo where the Dayton Flyers upset my beloved Orange.
And you know what? Not once did any Bonaventure faithful yell at me that year for wearing my orange and blue around campus. Not once did I get called out for rooting for both Bonaventure and Syracuse.
But this year, something weird happened. Something weird but predictable.
In my opinion the stars just happened to align in a strange way. First, the Bonnies traveled to Syracuse in November and played the Cuse to the bitter end, leading by as much as 10 points in the game but ultimately falling short.
I was not at this game, I was in Washington D.C. studying, but my mom wore a Bonnies t-shirt and a Syracuse hat to the game (she also noted many others were doing the same). Then, St. Bonaventure was left out of the tournament while the Orange, who limped to the finish line this season, celebrated when their name was announced on CBS.
Now even though it wasn’t Syracuse’s fault Bonaventure didn’t get in, you wouldn’t know that on campus.
Anger, sadness, depression. Trust me, I was angry too when Bonaventure lost to Davidson and lost out on a bid to get in the tourney. I went to the Atlantic 10 Tournament in Brooklyn as a fan and could barely watch towards the end of regulation. And as the game went into overtime I was so nervous and afterwards, when the Bonnies lost, I was heartbroken. But, I was also extremely happy when Syracuse heard their name called the next weekend—and I’ll cheer for my Orange (who are now in the Sweet 16) till the bitter end.
Now, I’m not saying I expect the fiercely loyal Bonaventure fans to cheer for Syracuse, but for god sake, YOU ARE NOT GEORGETOWN. The Syracuse-Bonaventure rivalry did once exist but it has been over for a long time. The Atlantic 10 and the ACC are both exceptional basketball conferences but let’s not kid ourselves, they are two different types of basketball.
Bonaventure attracts many from the 315 area and not only that—Syracuse is the premier team of the northeast. Kids from all over will come to St. Bonaventure, and they will wear their orange and blue around campus with pride. Syracuse is New York’s team for sure.
So, when I walk around campus with my Syracuse gear on, if I continue to hear “f*ck Cuse!” It won’t make me hate St. Bonaventure and curse Mark Schmidt and it won’t make me stop rooting for the Orange and their Hall of Fame head coach. I’ll just continue to smile because I’m proud to be orange and brown.