Have you ever heard this story before? Staying local for college to be with your high school sweetheart. You just know you will be with her for the rest of your life. Then you get to college and, well, um, needless to say I did not marry my high school sweetheart. I am the oldest statesmen on Bull Run. I started at UB in the late 80's and exited Amherst in the early 90's.
When I came to UB the campus was a much different place. You went to class and that was it. Nothing wrong with that, but I felt like I missed out tremendously on the college experience. Without a strong athletic department to do anything in Amherst. An athletic department that allowed me to connect with the school and with more than my immediate circle of class mates in my major, the hockey team, and fraternity brothers.
I came to UB just as the Athletic Department was shuddering all sports to place all emphasis on Football and Basketball. That was close to thirty years ago. Many people did not know that hockey was a Varsity sport until 1988. People to this day do not believe me that UB had a D 1 program. Thirty years for UB to reach March Madness. Thirty years. Well, at first if you don't succeed. Don't get me wrong, I can't tell you how happy I am to see all the press, the scroll on the bottom of sports channels, local media interviewing players, and even The Buffalo News having more than one column and reporter covering the Bulls.
If you have been a loyal follower of Bull Run sorry but this will be redundant. Let me take you back when you rarely saw anyone in WNY wearing UB gear. For every UB sweatshirt, there was 100 for Notre Dame, 50 for Syracuse, 25 for Michigan, and on and on. You actually felt bad for the freshman who walked the main drag the first week of school with UB gear on. Wasn't long until all that was packed away. School pride? None. Think of all the alums over the past thirty years who have come to WNY and moved on with their lives. Any connection back to school? None. Hey how are the donations for the field house progressing?
Am I jealous? Absolutely. I would have loved to been at college and been able to rally around this team. Am I bitter. Yes, slightly. No reason why UB could not have been this way 30, 40, or 50 years ago. My Uncle was a big time recruit who choose UB to play baseball. After UB went on to play for the Milwaukee Braves and is in the WNY Baseball Hall of Fame. That was the early '60's. Can you imagine where UB could be right now if they stayed the course with athletics?
This win has washed away the bitterness I bottled up wondering why UB could not be a big time College sports program. Is UB a big time college sports program. Not yet. But you can see it coming. The teams need to continue to win. The community will continue to embrace this school as opposed to looking at a place where the down staters go to school. A place that is as far away from home as possible to still pay SUNY tuition for NYC area students. To get their degrees and move back down state. For the students who do move back down state create a connection with the school. To come back and visit the campus.
You don't come back to UB to see lecture halls. You come back for athletics. The connection is the biggest missing piece for Buffalo. Thank goodness the school understands that connection. Professors never will!. I was in Florida last week for business and saw two people with UB items on. Two more than I have seen in my life traveling across this country. I saw UB items for sale at the Buffalo airport.
I never thought I would see these times. Makes me proud again to have gone to UB!