SBU’s MERT faces new challenges amid pandemic

photo: SBU MERT/Twitter

By Dustyn Green

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Seventy calls. 

That is exactly what the St. Bonaventure University Medical Emergency Response Team juggled over the course of the fall semester.

According to MERT chief and SBU senior Maggie Cole, the club is made up of 50 volunteers, and approximately 25 are New York State certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certified. Although the number of calls was the highest call volume since 2014, Cole said that only about 10 of them were potentially related to COVID-19.

 For Cole, the craziness began behind the scenes, long before students returned to campus in August.

“It was absolutely chaotic by the time Bona’s had us go home for the semester (in the spring),” Cole said. “We did not even have the new officer coming in.”

In a typical year, the new officer crew will accompany the outgoing officers on Spring Weekend in late April, or until the new officer is cleared. However, that was unable to happen, and the outgoing officers set up individual meetings with the incoming officers. Despite that challenge, Cole gave credit to Gary Segrue, the club’s advisor and SBU’s associate dean for campus safety, for preparing the team with the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to enter a potential COVID-19 call and care for a patient.

“Mr. Segrue and safety and security were able to help us out a lot, they were able to get us the PPE we needed and were able to supply us for the whole semester,” Cole said.

Each year, MERT offers the EMT certification course to those who are interested. Despite the aforementioned challenges, 30 new members were able to become trained in stopping blood and administering CPR, as well as completing any necessary paperwork on the scene and taking vitals. 

According to Cole, things were “pretty regular” until the middle of the semester. She said the biggest difference was the number of intoxication calls, which drew the number of calls higher than normal.

The higher call volume brought Cole fear of burning out her fellow MERT members.

“Working with the same 20 to 25 EMTs for the whole semester, especially in a semester like this where we had no fall break,” she said.

Despite being shorthanded, and even losing a majority of their members near the end of the semester due to quarantine protocols, Cole believes the team held itself together quite well.

“I can’t believe we actually did this,” she said.

Since fall semester has come to an end, Cole and her fellow officers have began to secure PPE and complete any other preparations that are needed for next semester.

Bonnies in “good spirits” after positive COVID-19 tests prevents trip to Bubbleville

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By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team paused all team activities on Thursday following a positive COVID-19 result within the program, the university’s athletics department announced.

A member of the team’s Tier 1 personnel, which includes student-athletes, coaches, team managers and support staff, produced the positive test.

As a result, the team will not travel to “Bubbleville” at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut this coming week, and has shut down all team activities for two weeks.

“It’s unfortunate that this hit us right before we were about to play, and we don’t know how many games we’ll actually get in,” said junior guard Jaren Holmes. “Right now we’re in good spirits, and we’re just going to continue to get better and become closer.”

The Bonnies had been scheduled to play three games in the bubble, including a season-opening matchup against Towson on Wednesday. Stephen F. Austin and Army West Point were SBU’s other two scheduled opponents.

“I think this gets us that much more hungry to play,” Holmes said. “We’re going to be there for each other no matter what, and right now, we’re the ones who have to get each other through this.”

If the program doesn’t return any additional positive tests beforehand, it can resume team activities on Dec. 3. That’s 12 days before the Bonnies are scheduled to play Akron in Cleveland, Ohio, which will now serve as the team’s season opener.

“We’ve done everything right,” Holmes said. “I don’t think there’s a team more focused than us when it comes to handling this. We’re taking this thing seriously.”

The program’s positive test comes in the midst of a spike in COVID-19 cases within both the university community and Cattaraugus County. As of Friday evening, SBU had announced 37 new positive tests this week among students that were tested on campus, according to the university’s online COVID-19 tracker.

The Bonnies are now left with two non-conference games on their schedule, as they will host Buffalo on Dec. 22 after traveling to Akron.

“We’re taking the positives in everything,” Holmes said. “We can find ways to get better throughout these two weeks and be ready to go as soon as we get back.”

UPDATE: SBU to remain open until Nov. 24 as planned

photo: Molly Williams/The Intrepid

By Dustyn Green

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Despite 24 new cases of Coronavirus reported on Monday, St. Bonaventure University has elected to remain open until Nov. 24, according to a press release sent to students on Monday.

In-person activities, including the university’s gaming room and open swim at the Reilly Center, have been canceled due to the uptick in cases. The Richter Center will be closed to all athletic activities, but will remain open to host classes. Dining services will continue as normal.

The university also halted all men’s and women’s Division I athletic practices other than men’s and women’s basketball, which begin play next week.

“Students with concerns about instructional delivery over the next week may contact their instructors,” the release said. “Students asked to isolate here or quarantine at home should inform their instructors of their situations.”

DEVELOPING: University officials to meet regarding COVID-19 concerns

photo: Molly Williams/The Intrepid

By Dustyn Green

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — St. Bonaventure University saw its number of active COVID-19 cases double on Monday afternoon, as Cattaraugus County and Western New York also see increases in active cases of the virus.

According to the university’s COVID-19 tracker, SBU currently has 10 active cases of the virus, and 45 students are currently in quarantine. In response to the virus’ increased presence, multiple SBU professors have begun to change the layout of their instruction.

According to Tom Missel, chief communications officer for the university, the issue of increased COVID-19 cases will be discussed at a meeting on Monday evening. Missel also reminds students that the university’s COVID-19 tracker can provide them with the latest virus numbers, and is updated each morning.

This story is developing.

Bonnies navigate through preseason, await bubble trip

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By Ryan Surmay

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The 2020-2021 college basketball season has already shown that it will be much different than usual. 

This season is going to cause new challenges that teams haven’t faced before, and on the morning of Nov. 11, a new challenge presented itself as St. Bonaventure University announced that there will be no fans allowed at basketball games in the Reilly Center this season. 

“The bench has to be twice as loud now,” said Bonnies junior guard Kyle Lofton. “Give it your all and pick each other up.”

SBU head coach Mark Schmidt said that the Reilly Center is one of the best home court advantages in college basketball, so the team is going to do their best to make up for it by bringing more energy. 

“If you’re a competitor, it doesn’t matter if there’s 10,000 fans or one,” Schmidt said. 

Within the team, there’s a mutual respect as no player wants to be the one to let their guard down. Schmidt has stressed the importance of staying away from large crowds to allow for the season to be completed in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

 “You don’t want to be the one to ruin it for everybody else,” he said. 

The players realize how big of an impact it could be if a positive test occurs. Other schools have been forced to shut down because of outbreaks on their teams. 

“Seeing [other teams shut down] makes you realize it can happen,” Lofton said. “Our first game is in two weeks… if someone gets it, it won’t happen.” 

The team is schedules to kickoff its season on Nov. 25 against Towson in the Mohegan Sun bubble in Connecticut. 

Schmidt and his team has been trying to keep a sense of normalcy with its preparations. He said that that apart from mask wearing, practices haven’t looked too different from previous years.

“We’re doing everything we would have done for the last 31 years,” Schmidt said. “The only difference is I got a mask on. I know some coaches are doing non-contact but we haven’t changed. My thought process is do everything you can off the court, but we’re not going to change what we do on the basketball court.”

Lofton expressed the importance of keeping distanced and solely being focused on basketball for the time being.

“Guys are here to play basketball and are having fun, so it makes it easier,” he said. 

Lofton and co-captain Osun Osunniyi were both voted to preseason all-league teams, as Lofton was named preseason second-team all-Atlantic 10, while Osunniyi was preseason third-team all-league and A-10 all-defensive team.

The team, meanwhile, was picked to finish fourth in the A-10. SBU has finished in the league’s top six each of the past five years.

While this team has no seniors, they have nine juniors who are used to playing big minutes. Lofton, Osunniyi, Dom Welch and Jaren Holmes each averaged over 30 minutes per game in the last season.

“We have juniors but in essence they’re like fifth year seniors,” Schmidt said. “They’ve played a lot of minutes.” 

For the team, there’s a level of anticipation due to not being in a situation like the Mohegan Sun bubble before.

“It’s new,” Schmidt said. “I’ve never been in a bubble but it’s one of the safest things they can do.”  

Schmidt, Osunniyi look forward to Mohegan Sun bubble

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By Anthony Goss

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Osun Osunniyi and the Bonnies are aware of the potential consequences of the Coronavirus.

Last season, the virus erased any hopes that the St. Bonaventure men’s basketball team had for a run to an Atlantic 10 tournament title in Brooklyn, as well as the NCAA tournament.

“We know that we want to play,” Osunniyi said. “The bad feeling of being in Brooklyn and having the tournament not happen, and not being able to play for so long that we want to play so bad.”

With the pandemic ongoing, the road back to Brooklyn will start at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on Nov. 25. St. Bonaventure is one of over thirty teams beginning its season in “Bubbleville.”

In ascramble to piece together schedules, multiple-team events, also known as MTEs, have become a favorable solution for teams nationwide.

By doing this, programs limit travel while constructing quality non-conference match ups. Of the locations for such events, Mohegan Sun has become arguably the most popular bubble destination as programs
search for games in a safe environment.

“It’s going to be different for us,” Bonnies head coach Mark Schmidt said. “But I think it’s one of the safest things that we can do for our players.”

Safety is a key this season; consequentially, the schedule will not play out as normal. Usually, SBU has a scrimmage and an exhibition game to get ready for competition, but that luxury is absent this season.

“By this time, we would have our ‘secret scrimmage’ and be getting ready for an exhibition game,” Schmidt said. “It’s a little bit concerning when the first game you play counts.”

Exhibition or not, the season begins with several match ups against quality mid-major programs. In their first game, the Bonnies face a Towson team bringing in several new pieces and contending for the Colonial league crown.

In the days following, SBU will take on Stephen F. Austin, a program notorious for giving high-major teams headaches in March. The Lumberjacks pulled off one of the most shocking upsets in college
basketball history last year at Duke.

Vermont, another SBU opponent in the bubble, sits atop the America East perennially, and handed the Bonnies a heart-breaking loss in the Reilly Center last season.

“We have a difficult schedule,” Schmidt said. “It’s great for our non-conference to play Towson, a very good team and as you alluded to with Stephen F. Austin, and Vermont is picked to win their league again.”

SBU will likely play a fourth game in the bubble, and can schedule up to three other non-conference games before starting league play in late December. Regardless, Schmidt knows his squad is itching to get back in action.

“They’re tired of playing against each other,” Schmidt said. “Our guys are looking to play anybody other than themselves, and we’ve got a challenge the 25th against Towson.”

A-10 commissioner: uncertainty still surrounds men’s basketball season

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By Jeff Uveino

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The Atlantic 10 released its men’s basketball schedule on Wednesday, but league commissioner Bernadette McGlade made one thing clear: there is still uncertainty surrounding the season.

With conference play scheduled to begin at its usual time in late December, McGlade said that her staff has been continuously working on contingency plans to prepare for the winter.

“We considered punching up the schedule and going to 20 games or 22 games,” McGlade said. “We looked at bubbles, we looked at playing back-to-back at the same site… We tried to be really sensitive to the needs of our media partners and the needs of our facilities and campuses.”

McGlade said that the league had upwards of 10 potential solutions for its schedule, but decided against putting any of its teams in a bubble.

“It’s really tantilizing,” McGlade said of the possibility of an A-10 bubble. “We looked at a lot of locations, even on our own campuses. But the ability to create a bubble in the intercollegiate sense, and control everyone’s comings and goings, just didn’t seem workable as far as our collegiate model.”

McGlade said that the league appointed at COVID-19 medical advisory in May, on which each of the league’s 14 schools are represented.

The league has also been given the right, based on a vote by school athletic directors, to readjust the schedule at any time, or move games. This could potentially make the number of home and away games for each team uneven, McGlade said.

“That could include establishing a smaller pod in an area that isn’t a hotspot, or reversing the site of a game,” McGlade said.

While the league has avoided a “pod” or “bubble,” it’s not ruling out the possibility of needing to pivot to one mid-season.

McGlade also mentioned the possibility of adding more conference games if teams are unable to play the non-conference contests that they currently have scheduled. Each A-10 team has been budgeted seven non-conference games by the NCAA before league play begins.

The A-10 will have two “look-in windows” during which it will determine whether games should, and can, be added. These windows will be on Nov. 18 and Dec. 4.

“If there is a deterioration in our non-conference schedules, then we have the ability to add additional conference games if we need to at that point in time,” McGlade said. “Everyone in the league has agreed to that policy.”

McGlade said that the league has already picked potential dates on which additional games could be added.

The A-10 has also set a minimum testing standard that schools can individually decide to expand on. To meet league standards, however, players and coaches will need to be tested three times per week, and on non-consecutive days.

The number of fans that will be allowed into games will be left up to member institutions, as well, McGlade said.

“We have some institutions that, as of right now, have zero public attendance,” she said. “Others have 10% of their indoor capacity, and one or two that have 15% of indoor capacity.”

None of the league’s schools, she said, are currently set to fill 50% or more of their arenas. St. Bonaventure University announced on Wednesday that, for the time being, no fans will be permitted at home games at the Reilly Center to start the season.

SBU was picked by the press to finish fourth in the A-10 this season, behind Richmond, Saint Louis and Dayton, respectfully. McGlade said that she thought the league would be “stronger than ever” this season, and Bona head coach Mark Schmidt agreed.

“(The A-10) can compete with any league in this country,” Schmidt said. “The hope is that we can get three or four A-10 teams in the NCAA tournament.”

SBU is scheduled to begin A-10 play against Saint Louis, with a date and time to be determined, before hosting Duquesne on Dec. 30.

“I think every team in this league, other than Richmond, has a chip on their shoulder,” Schmidt said. “Nobody wants to be picked number one. At the end of the year, hopefully we’re number one.”

The Bonnies will begin non-conference play on Nov. 25 against Towson, the first of four games that they will play in a bubble at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Kessler finds new home at SBU

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By Ryan Surmay

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Even though this season is different from previous, that doesn’t take away from the preparations Callie Kessler has made for the upcoming season. 

It’s not easy being an athlete during COVID-19, with schedules and practices constantly changing.  From the time she started playing, however, Kessler was always prepared for the big spotlight. That led her to where she is now, in her freshman year on the St. Bonaventure women’s lacrosse team.

“I started playing youth lacrosse in 2nd grade, and in 6th grade I started travel,” Kessler said. “Then I played club (lacrosse), which other coaches go to. We went to the ESPN Center in Florida, which was big to be seen by other coaches.”

When asked why she decided to come to Bona’s, the North Haven, Connecticut gave an answer that is familiar among the SBU community.

“I came on campus in January and right away it felt super homey,” she said. “Even through I’m so far, it feels like home is 10 minutes down the street because everyone is so welcoming. All coaches are so welcoming and have an open-door policy, so everyone is comfortable going to them.”

For some people, it’s a big adjustment to go from high school, where it’s obvious that a Division I athlete would be the best player on the field, to then go to a much more competitive league. 

Kessler said the speed of the collegiate game will be a challenging adjustment.

“Playing club, we got to play with some of the college rules,” she said. “It is going to be much faster and girls are much stronger, but I’ll get adjusted.” 

In this unique season, Kessler said she is most excited to learn to play with her new teammates, and learn how the collegiate schedule works.

While a significant knee injury has kept her out of practice and the team’s intra-squad scrimmage on Oct. 24, Kessler will look to return to her prior form and be a huge addition for her team over the next four years.