By: Jack Milko
ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – This weekend, St. Bonaventure University will welcome its alumni and celebrate homecoming for the first time in two years.
Several festivities are happening throughout the weekend, with the biggest event being the men’s basketball game taking place at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The Bonnies will play host to long-time rival St. Joseph’s.
“Homecoming is always a big thing on campus considering we don’t have football,” St. Bonaventure basketball coach Mark Schmidt said. “This is a big day for athletics. We always have a great crowd, it’s going to be an exciting day to play basketball. With all of the alums coming back, this is the big winter weekend. Hopefully, we can play well.”
Due to a COVID-19 outbreak and scheduling changes, the men’s basketball team has played just one home game since Dec. 8. So it’s been a while since the Bonnies have played in front of their hometown fans and students.
“There’s nothing like the Reilly Center when the students are there,” Schmidt added. “I know the students will be there [on Saturday]. It will be a great crowd and it will loud. I expect it to be tremendous.”
It will be a tremendous atmosphere as the game is sold out.
“Homecoming is always a lot of fun,” said Seth Johnson, who is the Assistant Athletic Director for Marketing, Licensing, and Fan Engagement at St. Bonaventure. “The students get excited for it as well as the alums that are coming back in. Homecoming tends to be a lot of younger alums that come back, so kids that graduated a couple of years ago.”
“Nothing against some of our older alums, but the [younger alumni] tend to bring more energy,” Johnson added. “The Reilly Center is always quite loud and energetic on homecoming.”
The Reilly Center will be buzzing as young alumni from all over Western New York are headed back to their alma mater.
“It’s going to be great,” said Tee Myers, who graduated from St. Bonaventure in 2019. “All of my college roommates are going back down and we are getting together for the first time since graduation.”
Considering the pandemic, a lot of alumni have not been back to campus in quite some time.
“I haven’t been to Bona’s in at least three or four years now,” remarked Bret Heath, who played baseball for the Bonnies and graduated in 2015. “The last time I was there they just put up the new scoreboard in the Reilly Center.”
Before the game tips off, six individuals will be formally inducted into the St. Bonaventure Athletics Hall of Fame. The ceremony kicks off at 10 a.m. inside the Doyle Conference Center.
Golfer Josh Anderson, baseball player Joe Rizzo, softball player Sherri Thompson, soccer player Kristin Snyder Clarke, and basketball stars Marques Green and Dana Mitchell will become members of the St. Bonaventure Athletics Hall of Fame.
“It’s a big class considering we weren’t able to do it last year,” Johnson noted.
The Hall of Fame inductees will also be recognized at halftime of the basketball game too.
But a trip to St. Bonaventure for homecoming weekend would be incomplete without making a stop at The Burton for burgers, fries, and an alcoholic beverage or two.
“We are extraordinarily excited for this weekend,” said Brian Attea, who graduated from St. Bonaventure in 1989 and now owns The Burton. “And we are even more excited because we lost that entire year due to COVID.”
Before every home game, The Burton is packed with St. Bonaventure alumni and fans.
The local establishment will have extra staff on deck to help prepare for what will be a busy weekend on both Friday and Saturday.
What’s amazing about The Burton is that St. Bonaventure alumni have hung out there for decades and continue to do so today.
“We are going to start at the Burton, then take the bus to the [Reilly Center], and then go from there,” Myers said. “My dad is an alum and he and his buddies all hung out at the Burton too.”
“When we were in school, everybody went to the Burton,” Heath added.
Simply put, the Burton is the place to be on game-day.
“Weekends like this are what we dream of as alumni in terms of preserving the history and tradition of The Burton so that it would be here for future graduates and future generations,” Attea noted. “Weekends like this are really what it’s all about.”
Jack Milko received his B.A. in Political Science from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. He is now working to get his M.A. in Sports Journalism from St. Bonaventure University. A lifelong fan of the Bonnies, Jack covers the team for @A10Talk. Follow him on Twitter for more Bonnies coverage at @Jack_Milko.