By Jeff Uveino
The weather matched the collective mood of the campus community.
As clouds leaked rain across the Southern Tier of Western New York, St. Bonaventure University sat in disbelief over the previous day’s decision.
It was a Monday, and the calendar read March 14, 2016. My first visit to SBU.
The day before, an NCAA selection committee decided to leave the Bona men’s basketball team out of its championship tournament field. Despite a 22-8 record and a share of the Atlantic 10 regular-season title, the committee excluded the Bonnies from March Madness.
“The snub,” as Bona fans now commonly refer to the incident.
To my parents and I, however, the disservice done to this private, Franciscan university of about 2,000 undergraduates located 75 miles south of Buffalo didn’t matter much.
We were there to learn about the university’s journalism school. Not its basketball sob story.
Each person we met mentioned the snub. It was as if a hammer had been dropped on the head of the school’s soul. The pain radiated from each passer-by, a campus community dumbfounded over the exclusion of its beloved Bonnies.
It’s not that we didn’t care. We just didn’t understand.
Five years later, I spent March 14 sitting court-side at University of Dayton Arena.
There, the Bonnies played VCU for the 2021 A-10 men’s basketball championship and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The six-hour drive to Dayton to watch the game? A small ask for myself and the dozens of Bona students that will become lifelong friends.
After all, that dreary post-snub visit to campus had all but convinced me to attend the university’s Jandoli School of Communication. With that decision came an abundance of professional opportunities, including covering that A-10 final for student media.
The Bonnies beat VCU handily.
On the outside, objectivity fueled my stoic demeanor from the media section. My heart, however, filled with a sense of pride that could only be matched by the hundreds of Bonnies fans that scrambled toward the court to join the celebration.
Five years prior, those moments would have meant nothing. Now, the image of the confetti-laden, on-court celebration will stay with me forever.
That’s the impact that St. Bonaventure University has on its family members.
It’s hard to find the words to describe the school’s dynamic to those who haven’t attended. SBU alumni refer to the community as a family, while outsiders often prefer the term “cult.”
I still remember the guide that led my parents and I through that rainy, downtrodden tour over five years ago. He and I shared a drink over the matter a few years later.
I could write dozens of cliches to convey my love for SBU, but have been taught better than to do so.
All I can say is that the best four years of my life have been spent in the Enchanted Mountains. Thank you to every single person who has made that statement possible.