First let me start off with a little story of mine. The other day was our last day of club league practice for my club swim team, so in celebration we played sharks and minnows. There was a little girl on the team, Ellie, that never made it past the first round each game we played, so my friend Connor and I decided to help her out. We pulled her along under the water and fended off the bigger kids. Ellie then stuck with Connor and I the rest of the practice, and in just a short hour we had formed a pretty close bond.
At the end of practice I realized I would probably never see Ellie until next summer, hoping that she kept up with the sport. She waved and shouted goodbye to me as I began to walk to my car. I stopped in my tracks and turned around calling her over. I pulled one of my numerous Bonaventure swim caps out of my bag and asked her if she had ever heard of St. Bonaventure University (Surprisingly she had, turns out her father had gone there, Ha!). I then told her if she kept up swimming she too could maybe swim for St. Bonaventure someday and gave her my cap. There are very few things in this world that make me more happy then seeing a little kid genuinely happy and thankful. Ellie jumped into my arms and gave me a hug, gripping the cap.
I may never see Ellie ever again, maybe I will, or maybe even someday she'll be a part of the Wolf Pack herself. I don't know what will happen, but one thing is for sure -- being a St. Bonaventure student athlete is so much more than just playing a sport.
We hold numerous camps over the summer, run by our own athletes and coaches teaching what we've dedicated most of our lives to. Along the way, whether we realize it or not we are inspiring the younger generations.
We hold events like women in sports day, where we bring in girls from all over Western New York to teach them about the sports we play and have them ask us questions.
We go to the local elementary schools during Christmas time and build gingerbread houses with them and just hang out with them.
We are teaching lessons to kids just beginning to learn the basics of what we do. We are planting a seed in their young minds, that has the potential to blossom into an athlete far beyond our level or one that just plain and simple loves the sport.
We are setting the level of excellence that the younger kids around us strive to reach. I dare you, next time you're at a Bonnies basketball game or soccer game or really any Bonaventure sporting event, really look around at the crowd. You'll be surprised to see how many children and young teenagers are at these events, eyes wide, soaking in the allure of Division I athletics. They are the future of our programs, here at St. Bonaventure, and I believe it is our personal duty to help inspire these kids to train hard and someday become a part of the Wolf Pack.
We are not just athletes and competitors, we are teachers, coaches, inspirations.