COLUMN: Myers reflects on time at SBU; how COVID-19 changed senior year

photo: Jeff Uveino

By Justin Myers

Your senior year in college is not something you can redo in life. You only get one chance to make the lasting memories you’ll never forget before heading into the real world. But for this year’s class, we don’t get that opportunity.  

When the Coronavirus became more serious back in March, there was a lot of uncertainty about not only my classes senior year, but the safety of society .

During my senior year at St. Bonaventure University, I was making memories with everyone at school because I knew in that May it would be all over. Whether that was taking a trip to Toronto to see the Bonnies play, game nights at my apartment, or doing activities on campus, I made sure to do everything I wanted before it all ended.  

With the school year being cut two months early, there were so many more memories that were supposed to happen. That was the part I was looking forward to the most, even though I was dreading the end of college.

For the past 3 years, I saw senior classes before me get their last spring weekend, last time on campus, and last goodbyes before they headed into the real world. With my senior year being cut short, that’s the part that hurts the most.  

Like every other college student in America, I had to adjust to being back home and being taught online for the rest of the semester. I know it was rough on everybody, but especially us seniors, as we had to give rushed goodbyes to people who have been part of our lives for the past four years. 

Being at home has given me a lot of time to reflect on my time at St. Bonaventure. When alumni told me that being at SBU for 4 years will be the best years of your life, they didn’t lie.

Bonaventure has helped me develop relationships with professors, faculty, and friends that will last a lifetime. For that, I will always be thankful for all the memories I had time to make while being at school.  

While today is a happy day for the class of 2020 as we start the new chapters of our lives, it is also a sad day because I won’t be able to walk the stage with my classmates. Even though we won’t be together today I will cherish all the memories we made during our four years together. Hopefully one day we can get the graduation we deserve. 

Once a Bonnie always a Bonnie. 

Column: Hudson, Bona softball players react to ongoing pandemic, canceled season

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Akim Hudson

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — COVID-19, Coronavirus or whichever you prefer to call it, has struck the United States and has sent waves of peril and panic from coast to coast.

Unless one has been living under a rock, they can observe the effects of Coronavirus.

No, I don’t mean the biological and anatomical effects and so forth, I mean the fact that approximately every square inch of the United States is paused. The New York State government was one of the first states on the quarantine wave, practically setting an hourglass on the fate of the St. Bonaventure school year.

But before I even breakdown how that went, I can’t just subside the termination of all sports in the world, yes literally the world.  

I remember, it was a Wednesday evening, I was just finishing a workout at SBU’s Richter Center, then I get a notification from ESPN reporting that the remainder of the NBA season has been suspended.

The NBA, being the eminent force that it is, practically made every other sports league play hardball. One by one, they all fell. MLB, MLS, even the damn NASCAR shut down.

I personally blame Rudy Gobert, but that’s neither here nor there.  

With all the sports leagues shutting down, reality sunk in and we all knew the inevitable NCAA shut down, but everyone avoided the elephant in the room and stayed as optimistic as they could.

Thursday morning, I attended a (mandatory) SGA meeting where Rob Defazio, director of the center for activities, recreation and leadership at Bona’s, broke the news that the Atlantic 10 basketball tournament had been cancelled, along with all of SBU’s spring sports.

Immediate shockwaves moved through the room.

It was just a sudden moment of shock, like one of those utterly unbelievable moments that couldn’t even elicit any reaction.  

I couldn’t help but feel a robust sense of sympathy for spring athletes for their loss (and empathy because my season for club basketball was also terminated).  

After that announcement, everyone really began to comprehend just how serious this whole situation was. Over the ensuing couple of days, many left St. Bonaventure, while some stayed until the week came to a halt, constantly pondering, “what’s next?”  

I held a rather spontaneous interview with several spring sports athletes on campus about their reaction to the sudden termination of their season.

Freshmen softball players Shannon Costello and Bella Reese, along with senior softball player Mckenna Holtz, voiced their opinions on the situation.

The first question was obviously how they felt about their season coming to a halt. Costello said that she was “extremely disappointed” about her season coming to a halt, yet she wasn’t “entirely surprised” because she’d already expected shut down after SBU’s weekend series in Maryland got cancelled.

Knowing the intentions of the NCAA were to keep them safe along with the knowledge that she is only a freshman and would have another season, Costello found clarity in the whole situation.

However, her “heart truly broke” for the seniors whose college careers have been vanquished. Which is a perfect Segway to our senior.

Holtz was in an absolute shock when she got the news.

She even took the initiative to meet with Bona coach Mike Threehouse because “part of [her] couldn’t believe it could be real” until further confirmation from him.

Reese had a reaction that was pretty much an exact conjugation of both Costello and Holtz, also in shock and disappointment, but a different sense of disappointment.

Reese’s disappointment was spearheaded by the team’s hard work basically being deducted to futility.

Divulging that there were changes during the offseason that put the team in position to improve, now it felt like the team had spent months constructing some sort of building only for it to be ravaged within a day. 

Next, I asked the student athletes how this pandemic had affected their day to day schedule.

Costello said she went home on the ensuing Saturday and swung at the batting cages, but there “definitely [was] like a void in [her] daily life.” Swinging at the cages just “wasn’t the same.”

After playing three previous seasons, Holt naturally built her schedule around softball. She said she “[doesn’t] know what to do with all [her] free time” and staying active without her teammates being available to go down to the fields with her is a “huge adjustment…[and will] take a long time before [she] can ever get used to not having practice”.

It’s human nature to be very habitual once we get conditioned, and it is very difficult to break that conditioning, I must say, this quarantine is making me go through withdrawals of my own as far as being active goes.

Reese, who redshirted this season, said her schedule wasn’t really that different after the termination of their season, but she was now “left accountable” of her workouts and so forth.

I must say that there was an archetypal response from all three student athletes of utter shock with somber overtones.

This quarantine has set us back as a nation, but when our safety is being put in perspective, whatever is necessary, I suppose I’ll conform. Sympathy to those whose season came to a screeching halt, or whose schedule has been bewildered by this quarantine.  

Stay as productive as you can amid the current circumstances. This is a time to focus on the betterment of yourself, especially health-wise.

Be smart, stay safe, live healthy, and work on yourself. As always, it is an honor to be able to express myself to you all, peace and prosperity, beloved.  

SBU students from infected areas choose to stay on campus during online instruction period

By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — When St. Bonaventure University made the decision to cancel all in-person instruction from Monday until March 27, it gave students the option to remain on campus.

For some students, the unprecedented situation provided an opportunity to return home until classes resumed.

For others, especially those whose hometowns had been infected by the Coronavirus, it gave them the chance to remain in an area that the virus has not yet reached.

“Students who feel safer staying on campus — and many have indicated that to myself and colleagues — can do so,” said Dr. Dennis DePerro, president of the university, in a letter to the SBU community on Friday. “I’ve received many messages from parents expressing the same sentiment.”

Priscilla Contreras, a junior from New York City, said that staying at SBU was a better option for her than returning home.

“The best thing for me to do is stay on campus because I’m young and could fight off the virus, but if I go home, I could pass it on to my parents, my grandmother and everyone else,” Contreras said. “I don’t want to feel guilty for doing so, and staying (at SBU) is better for their safety.”

Contreras said that if she could not stay on campus, she would have concerns over storing her belongings and being able to get home on short notice.

“If I run out of food, I can easily just go to the Hickey (dining hall),” she said. “How will I able to get home and get all of my stuff with me home?”

As of Monday, there had been nearly 500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in NYC, and none in Cattaraugus County, where SBU is located.

Anthony Adams, a freshman from Philadelphia, said that being able to stay on campus made him feel safer than if he was forced to leave. As of Monday, there were eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Philadelphia County.

“Yeah, I think that staying on campus is safer because the virus isn’t here,” Adams said. “SBU is located between two very small towns with little interaction from outsiders, so there’s really no chance of people getting it here.”

DePerro said that he and senior management would meet regularly to determine whether an extension to the suspension of in-person instruction would be necessary.

 

Atlantic 10 tournament canceled over Coronavirus fears

By Jeff Uveino

BROOKLYN, NY — The remainder of the Atlantic 10 men’s basketball tournament was canceled on Thursday minutes before the tournament’s first game of the day was scheduled to start at Barclays Center.

No. 8 Massachusetts and No. 9 VCU were set for a noon tip-off to start the day’s action, until it was announced at 11:59 a.m. that the tournament would not be played due to fears over the Coronavirus.

“It was a very difficult decision, and you can probably hear that in my voice,” A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade said while calling in to the league press conference on Thursday. “The precautionary decision making done to protect our student athletes, family members and the public is something that I think everyone in the country is doing right now.”

The conference had announced on Wednesday night that the tournament would be played without fans in attendance. McGlade said that at that point, she knew that canceling the tournament was a possibility, but hoped that it would not be necessary.

“You always hate to pull people off the court, but the right decision was made, even in the last hour,” said Thorr Bjorn, athletic director at Rhode Island and the chair of the A-10 athletic directors. “This was a preventative decision, not a reactionary one.”

The news came as NCAA conferences around the nation announced that they would not hold their respective tournaments.

“Two minutes left in the warmup, you’re on the court and locked in, and then no game,” VCU coach Mike Rhodes said. “It’s surreal. The reality of it is, you can’t win every game, but your responsibility as a coach is to keep your players healthy and safe.”

Rhodes said that the decision was especially tough to swallow for his senior players.

“There weren’t any dry eyes in our locker room,” Rhodes said. “When our seniors sat down and realized they wouldn’t be putting on a uniform again, that was tough.”

McGlade, who had called in to from an NCAA Selection Committee meeting, said that she is uncertain whether the NCAA tournament will be the next event to be impacted.

“All of the leadership executives within the NCAA and our committee are very attentive and attuned to everything that’s going on, and looking at all of the impactful information that’s coming on as we are charged with taking care of our responsibilities.”