By now, everyone who cares about UB Athletics knows the news. The university has decided to cut the men’s Soccer, men’s swim and dive, women’s rowing, and baseball starting in the Fall of 2017. This means that as of yesterday, 120 student athletes are no longer living out life long dreams to play at the highest collegiate level. I struggled all day yesterday imagining the heart break that these students faced, as they had no warning that this cut was coming.
That being said, I’m not writing whether I believe this is right or wrong. I don’t know enough about the departments financial situation to come on here and voice my opinions in that regard. What I am writing this for is to get my personal thoughts out to the public. As many people know, I am heavily involved in True Blue, and many of my opinions and posts come from that perspective of involvement.
This past year I’ve attended roughly 60-70 different UB sporting events. I went to every single men’s soccer game, including a trip to Akron, three swim and dive meets, one rowing meet, and have already planned to be at the baseball games my schedule permits. In being at these events and in the stands, I was able to be immersed in each culture.
At the rowing meet I went to, the families all socialized and you felt the sense of community they have in that sport. While you only got to see the rowers finish their race, the excitement of the fans waiting for those boats was something great to watch. They peered over the railings, eagerly waiting for the athletes to come to view. They had a nice breakfast set up for the alumni of the sport, and you saw a community.
At the swim and dive senior meet, I listened to the athletes talk about their teammates and share their stories. I was amazed as there had to be over 50 alumni present, all happily reuniting. They introduced their kids to one another, and just seemed so excited to watch the swimmers compete as they once did themselves. You saw a community.
At the men’s soccer games this year, I had the pleasure to watch one of the most caring person ever coach. Stu Riddle reached out to True Blue multiple times, even offering to buy our Chick Fil A (a road tradition) if we were able to make it to the MAC Championship game. He bought us pizza for a game in the rain, he stopped by our tables and chatted with us and overall made True Blue part of the family. We had a star player in Russell Cicerone who always took the time to appreciate the fans. After winning the Big Four Shield, the team would always come and celebrate. They welcomed us to the community.
At a baseball game last year, True Blue hosted an event. While it was not the most attended, there were still members of the general public there. We had a chance to talk to them. These people who did not know us even helped a member of True Blue look for his keys when they were lost. The fans cheered as the Bulls went to extra innings, and you once again saw a community.
As a student, and UB Athletics fan, I have just struggled to imagine the pain that is going through these communities. As a fan, these sports mean so much more than a monetary value. These were the some of the sports that helped to shape what it means to be a “Buffalonian.” Hard-working, often times not getting the attention they deserve, but always giving their all.
To the student athlete’s, you deserved to be treated better. You had every right to know that the University was considering cutting your sport. To be told within hours of the general public being told is not fair. To the coaches, you deserved to be treated better. You deserved to have been given a chance to defend yourselves and your players. To be warned of these possible cuts. My heart breaks a little bit more for Dave Carmichael as well. To finally get the opportunity to be a head coach at a D1 institute just to have it taken from you before week 1. It hurts to imagine.
Finally, I just want to say on behalf of True Blue, thank you. Thanks for the memories, the cowbells, the crazy finishes, and most importantly for letting us be a part of your communities. You will never be forgotten, and I hope a day comes when we can watch you all compete. Do not give up, this is just a bend in the road.