photo courtesy of gobonnies.sbu.edu
By Ryan Surmay
ST. BONAVENTURE, NY — The typical response from someone when they hear of St. Bonaventure University is, “Where’s that?”
For a school in Cattaraugus County, New York with just over 2,000 students, you wouldn’t expect much of a fanbase for sports.
Unless you’ve experienced the school in person.
At SBU, you’ll find some of the most passionate basketball fans, with a massive following. You’ll find diehard fans that love and support their team like no other school. St. Bonaventure basketball is a community, and where no matter where you go, you’ll find fellow alumni and be greeted with a “Let’s Go Bona’s.”
Since I’m a freshman, it was my first time experiencing the St. Bonaventure basketball atmosphere, other than the times I came to games with my family, since my mom is an alumnus.
I always watched the games when they were on TV, but after experiencing these moments as a student, I know why the school has some of the most passionate fans in the country, who would travel anywhere to support the team.
So much so, many alumni and current students made the six-hour trip to UD Arena in Dayton, Ohio to support the team in the Atlantic 10 Championship game. Sitting in an arena that was only at 25% capacity, still, a majority of it was St. Bonaventure fans.
Seeing Osun Osunniyi have a monster volleyball spike-type block, or a Kyle Lofton 3-pointer that results in the crowd roar made me excited to be able to go to games at the Reilly Center next season.
Because of COIVD-19, Bona’s win over VCU in the A-10 title game was the only contest Bonnies fans were able to attend in person. However, the community has supported the team all season in other ways.
When the team left to go to Dayton, it seemed like the entire community stopped everything to show support. Starting with just the students on campus standing in the parking lot outside the Reily Center cheering for the bus as it drove off, it then drove through downtown Allegany, where local businesses came outside to cheer and hold signs up for the bus parade.
Then, the buses drove by a local elementary school and saw children hold signs for the team as it passed by. That is what makes St Bonaventure so special, and is also why alumni often refer to the school as “the best place on earth.”
While the team matched up against LSU in the first round of the NCAA tournament this season, a school with an enrollment of 34,290 students (which is 13.5x more people than St. Bonaventure with 2,540 students), not a single person was intimidated by their opponent.
The people at St. Bonaventure have heart and pride for their team — but most of all, confidence. Sadly, the game didn’t go SBU’s way, and they lost. But, right after the game, SBU-backing Twitter pages and websites gave their support in saying how proud they were to be a Bonnies fan.
Whilen being one of the smallest schools in the tournament this year, St. Bonaventure has something that beats all other teams: heart.