VIDEO: Uveino and Hogan discuss COVID-19 at SBU, possibility of basketball season

By Jeff Uveino and Mike Hogan

ALLEGANY, NY — A month in to St. Bonaventure University’s fall semester, Jeff Uveino and Mike Hogan sat down to look back at the university’s handling of the Coronavirus pandemic so far, and look ahead to what the rest of the semester may look like.

As of Friday, the university had only reported seven cases of COVID-19. What has the school done to keep the virus mostly in control? As college basketball season quickly approaches, what can Bonnies fans expect to see come winter?

Check out the video on The Intrepid’s Youtube channel, or by clicking here.

Firefighters respond to smoke at Falconio Hall

photo: Connor Raine/The Intrepid

By Peter Byrne

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — A malfunction in an air handler caused smoke at St. Bonaventure University’s Falconio Hall on Thursday.

The building’s fire alarm was triggered by the smoke around noon, causing the Allegany Fire Dept. to respond to the situation.

According to a university spokesman, the smoke resulted from a seized-up belt on the motor of the air handler, which was located on the roof of Falconio Hall. The university made it clear that there was no fire.

Students were forced to evacuate the building when the fire alarms went off, before being able to return at approximately 12:43 p.m.

Greg Jubulis, a freshman at SBU and resident of the building, was doing homework in his dorm room when the fire alarm went off.

Jubulis recalled a weird smell coming from the building before he left.

“We evacuated the building and stood outside for about 10 minutes before the fire trucks came,” Jubulis said.

When the trucks finally came, Jubulis counted at least four of them at the scene. One truck brought a ladder to get onto the roof.

“After they got there, we were probably out there for another 30 minutes,” Jubulis said. “They brought out the ladder and hose but didn’t use it. The firefighters looked lost.”  

Maddie Wiles, another Falconio Hall resident, also talked about the evacuation.

“The fire alarm went off and we all stood outside,” she said. “They kept telling us to get farther and farther away from the building.”

Wiles also recalled seeing at least four fire trucks, in addition to two police cars and an ambulance.

“After about an hour, we could back in, but it still smells bad inside the building,” Wiles said.

She hopes the smell goes away soon.   

Adam O’Donoghue watched the entire thing unfold from his dorm in nearby Robinson Hall.

“We didn’t have to evacuate, but we all watched it happen,” he said. “It was crazy.”

O’Donoghue said there was no panic from the students in his building, but uncertainty about the situation across from them.  

There is no plan for alternate arrangements for the students in Falconio Hall, as firefighters left the scene after getting the situation under control.

The university said that its facilities department is working to repair the handler as we speak.

GELYON: Return of SBU athletics will be result of a team effort

photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu

By Nic Gelyon

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — As I spoke to student-athletes, coaches and representatives from the St. Bonaventure University athletic department about their effort to curb COVID-19 and return to action, I found that I wasn’t finding what I expected.

 I was looking for the moral dilemma. The internecine fight. 

Everybody felt too optimistic when I was talking to them. It was all too happy. 

But then I realized that St. Bonaventure has only had three positive coronavirus cases. The whole semester. All positive cases have since recovered. 

There is nothing to criticize. There is nothing to pick apart. There are no battles between coaches and presidents – ahem, Big 10 conference. There is absolutely nothing to be mad at. Nothing to punch the wall about.  

The fact of the matter is that it worked. The communication, the mindset, the plan. It all worked. 

And so, I leave you with this: we cannot become complacent, as a school community and as a society. Vigilance is the only way that the plan will continue to work.

It will take an effort from all. 

  • The NCAA has made November 25 the date when men’s and women’s college basketball will be allowed to begin. As of Friday, no schedule had been released for either season. Teams will not be allowed to play exhibitions or hold scrimmages prior to their first game. 
  • SBU’s COVID-19 return to action plan is, again, currently in its third and final phase. The plan was last updated on Sept. 14. The athletic department has treated athletes as if they had been “sedentary” throughout quarantine, attempting to prevent nagging injuries by getting athletes in the best condition possible. SBU athletic director Tim Kenney, in a statement to The Intrepid, said that the strength and conditioning department plans to ramp up activity in two-week increments, culminating in, hopefully, the playing of games. 
  • Speaking of which- it does not appear that fall sports are going to happen- not with any sort of normalcy anyway. As Oduro told me, teams are more likely to play against teams in the same region, as to avoid the COVID-19 restrictions and risks involved in cross-regional travel. Oduro mentioned the possibility of weekend tournaments involving four or so teams, with all teams – as he emphasized several times – staying in similar environments. 
  • It seems the athletic department is making fan engagement a priority during a time when not only are no sports happening, but college basketball is delayed. “We have stayed in constant communication with our fan base the past several months… to keep Bona Nation updated and entertained,” said Seth Johnson, assistant athletic director for marketing, licensing and fan engagement at SBU. He went on to say that the university is working on plans to keep the fans involved throughout the season, though there likely will be no fans in the stands. 

Sports at SBU are back… kind of

photo: Nic Gelyon/The Intrepid

By Nic Gelyon

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — It’s unlikely that there will be a fall sports season at St. Bonaventure, at least in the traditional sense.

But that hasn’t deterred student-athletes from working diligently over the last six months, preparing as if there will be.  

University athletics have come a long, long way since March. When St. Bonaventure sent students home last semester due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the athletic department faced the same cloud of uncertainty that has shrouded society for the better part of the last six months.  

The university did not, however, use this uncertainty as a mask for dormancy, or to wait for all the answers to appear out of nowhere.

Coaches and administrators decided, wisely, to get a head start. They immediately began to gather as much information about COVID-19 as possible. 

 “Before school shut down, me and my assistant coach sat down and started doing more research on COVID,” said Kwame Oduro, head men’s soccer coach at SBU.

Oduro was referring to the time in between when his team returned from their winter trip to England and when school went remote. 

“This is a pandemic, man, this is no joke,” he said. “There’s no way we can keep coming to school. That’s when it hit me.” 

The information gathered was relayed quickly to student-athletes to keep them updated, especially as new layers were added weekly to the university’s COVID-19 return to action plan.

“When [Coach Oduro] would get any news from the A-10 or the NCAA, he would just tell us immediately, like schedule a meeting or a Zoom call,” said Cuneyt Vardar, a  junior midfielder on the men’s soccer team. “It would be pretty immediate.” 

In addition to effective communication, realism became a priority for the St. Bonaventure athletic department. 

The department’s actions would display practicality, not perfection- a mindset that is a necessity in 2020. 

“We could have the best laid plans,” St. Bonaventure athletic director Tim Kenney said in a video statement provided to The Intrepid. “But we can’t be naive to think it’s not going to sneak onto campus.” 

The university’s protocol was split into three phases, according to Kenney. 

Phases one and two included activities such as off-campus quarantines, on-campus quarantines, coronavirus education and the gradual progression of strength and conditioning work. 

It might as well have been known as St. Bonaventure’s Coronavirus training camp. 

But training camp is over now. The third phase is pregame. 

In a perfect world, game time for fall sports would be right around the corner, and phase three would involve the actual playing of games. 

For now, though, it is simply an exercise in keeping the athletes fit, gradually increasing intensity in practices. That, of course, is also dependent on the impact that COVID-19 is having on the university. 

Same-sport athletes have been deliberately placed in dorms with each other for this reason. In theory, if athletes surround each other with other athletes, they will, for the most part, stay within similar environments.

Many student-athletes know they will face strange challenges in this new world. Vardar told me that athletes probably will not be allowed to use locker rooms – at least not all at once – or to share towels. 

This does fall in line with the current coronavirus guidelines in the school’s return to action plan. Oduro told me that if fall sports do get off the ground, it will probably only be among teams similar regions, or at the very least teams that are not in restricted states. 

Kenney wants kids to step up in a time of need and take this opportunity to become great leaders. 

“It’s going to take everybody on this campus – not just athletics – in order for us to make this semester a success,” he said. “We can’t let up, and so our kids will have to keep that leadership role and lead by example.” 

Oduro wants the campus community, and especially his athletes, to take this opportunity to reacquaint themselves with SBU and remember how special an experience it is to be on its campus. 

“For all that college experience to still be around, we need to do our part,” Oduro said. “There are going to be some kids that feel like COVID-19 is not going to affect them because they’re young… we have to be a little selfless.” 

Vardar wants to someday become a physical therapist, and the best soccer player he can be. He is going to take the life-changing hand he has been dealt this year and, with hope, make the best of it. 

“I love the anatomy of the body, and I just love to work with people,” Vardar said. “I want to finish my soccer career here at St. Bonaventure.”

Vardar wants to play professional soccer, either in the United States or possibly in Turkey. He has played in Turkey previously, and his uncle has connections to the country. 

“Because of the Coronavirus, (the NCAA) gave us an extra year of eligibility, so for my graduate school at Daeman College,” Vardar said. “I want to play at year of Division II soccer (at Daeman), and that would finish up my college soccer eligibility.”

Fall sports at SBU will continue to practice using safety protocols and COVID-19 testing to ensure the safety of student-athletes and coaches.

And, spoiler alert: According to the NCAA, men’s and women’s basketball can return on Nov. 25.

SBU uses expanded testing to monitor COVID-19

photo: Connor Raine/The Intrepid

By Peter Byrne

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — Before the start of the fall 2020 semester, St Bonaventure University publicly made it their mission to keep students safe from COVID-19 when they return to campus, and throughout the semester.

Prior to arriving at the university, each student was required to test negative COVID, and every student did just that. 

After a successful first two weeks, the school decided to test all 533 of its student-athletes.

Of those tests, 532 came back negative, and the athlete who tested positive then produced back-to-back negative results.

As a result of the testing, the school stated that it would implement a return-to-play action plan.  

Although there have been promising results up to this point, would only student-athletes would be tested?

Thomas Missel, SBU’s chief communications officer, said that the university would begin testing non-athletes, as well.

On Monday, SBU began testing non-student-athletes for the first time since they got to campus.  

“For now, we are using our Sophia rapid testing antigen machine for our surveillance testing of students,” Missel said. “We may integrate some PCR testing with the county’s assistance as time goes on. The goal is to test 20 students every day.”

Since everyone’s return to campus, it has been university’s main goal to keep their students safe during this unusual time.

Missel explained that testing was necessary not only before the semester, but also surveillance testing just about three weeks in.

“We just believed that, along with the mandatory test to come to campus, surveillance testing during the semester was worth doing to gauge our control of the virus on campus,” Missel said.  

It was big news around campus how well the results of student-athlete testing came back last week.

However, the question of whether only student-athletes would get tested came up.

Missel said it was important that athletics get tested because of the nature of close contact practice, and they had to meet higher NCAA-mandated standards regarding.

Therefore, it was important to test student-athletes early in the semester so they could begin their practices as soon as possible.   

“The excellent results that athletics announced last week was a tremendous first sign to give us some confidence that we have a pretty good handle on the situation so far,” Missel said. “That’s a significant cross-section of the student population who all tested negative.”

With the restrictions set from the university since the arrival on campus, there should be no reason to believe the results of these tests will be poor.

And possibly, with another flurry of negative tests, the school can lift some of its COVID-19 restrictions and attempt to take another step in retuning to normalcy.

SBU community works toward easing COVID restrictions

photo: Connor Raine/The Intrepid

By Ryan Surmay

ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — When students arrived to St. Bonaventure University on move-in day, they each had to sign a social contract.

To summarize, this contract states that each student always must wear a mask, you cannot have anybody in your room who doesn’t live there and you cannot host or attend gatherings where there is no social distancing.

The contract also outlines the university’s plan to randomly select students for COVID-19 testing.   

As of August 1, there have only been three reported cases of COVID-19, and in each case, the individual has already recovered.

On move-in day, the students were told by resident assistants that these policies would be strict for two to three weeks until the university community gets situated.

But now, almost a month later, none of the restrictions that the university put in place to start the school year have been eased.   

SBU currently has no active cases on campus, which poses the question of when some of the restrictions will be lifted.

“Overall, students have been good on-campus and off-campus,” said Rob DeFazio, SBU’s associate dean of student life. “There have been a few incidents, but they have been addressed.”

Most students, DeFazio said, have followed the guidelines that are in place. An incident on Sept. 5, however, led to 28 students getting suspended the next day for attending a party hosted in an on-campus apartment.   

“There is no date (to ease restrictions) yet, but if we see good results from random testing then we’ll see,” DeFazio said.

Maryanna Garrigan, a freshman, felt that some of the current restrictions don’t make sense.

“I think that since we are doing so well right now, they should make the restrictions less harsh,” Garrigan said.  

DeFazio said that there needs to be more negative results from the school’s random testing before anything can change.

Each day, 20 students are randomly selected to be tested for COVID-19, which equates to 100 students tested per week.

“The first thing would be allowing people on your floor into your room, then people from other buildings,” DeFazio said.

He also stressed the importance of not having any outside visitors on campus.  

While there are still more questions than answers, there is optimism that SBU can continue to monitor the campus community through testing, and take steps toward normalcy on campus.

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.