Kyle Cerminara (in white uniform) grapples with an opponent during an exceptional season.
Buffalo’s wrestling team has always been one of the university’s most successful and consistent teams, but this year they outdid even themselves.
For the first time in his career, senior Kyle Cerminara advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in Oklahoma City. He finished the regular season as the number two wrestler in the country at 197 pounds. With his victories, Cerminara found himself on national television, wrestling on ESPNU for the final rounds of the NCAA tournament.
Other top wrestlers for the Bulls include junior Mark Budd, who made waves in the consolation bracket of the double-elimination NCAA tournament; and senior Harold Sherrell, who also qualified for the NCAA tournament but lost in the early rounds. Sherrell finished his UB career with 83 wins, placing him in the top 10 in Buffalo wrestling history.
For many college students, once May rolls around it’s time to hit the couch and forget about the year that has just passed. But for UB student-athletes, summer break is no break at all.
“After May 1 until the last week in August, I give everyone a program with some suggestions to follow,” affirms head women’s tennis coach Kathy Twist. “Three times a week, we’re doing flexibility and strength exercises with rubber bands and medicine balls, and we do abdominal work,” Twist says. “The girls really need to play tennis almost every day, five days a week. If not a match, then they just need to hit for an hour.”
Luckily for these student-athletes, after the final day of classes they get two weeks off from working out. “They can do something else,” Twist points out, “either basketball or swimming, just to get away from the tennis both mentally and physically.”
Indeed, getting away from tennis is really important for Twist and her athletes. “It’s a long season for us. We start in the last week in August and then we go until November 1. We have winter break, but we come back the first week after the semester starts and we play all the way to May 1,” Twist says. “You should always have some time off, some downtime, with whatever sport you’re playing. This way, you’re eager to compete. Otherwise, if you’re going strong all year long, you’re going to get burned out.”
Often, when someone mentions spring in Buffalo, one’s thoughts might veer to a white sheet of snow two or three feet deep. This year, however, with the relatively mild winter that Buffalo experienced, outdoor spring teams were able to practice outdoors before their seasons began.
“This year was absolutely wonderful,” says softball head coach Marie Curran. “With the new football surface, we were actually able to practice outside. We were out there in January and we got in five or six practices. We couldn’t do it before this year because there wasn’t an all-weather surface, only the gymnasium.”
The outdoor practice opportunities of 2006 offer a stark contrast to what the softball team normally experiences during the winter months. “Outdoors, just with turf alone, we get much more of a realistic bounce on defense,” Curran explains. “When we’re hitting ground balls to our players, the ball stays lower on the ground. It’s more realistic and we can use real balls.” When playing indoors, on the other hand, players have to rely on squishy balls and a hard gym floor, “so the bounce is much higher.”
Heather Turner of the UB women’s basketball team helps a student from Buffalo’s School 53 choose clothes in the annual “CareWears Day.”
Once the school year ends, some UB athletes find the need to fill out their days with additional activities. “A lot of our girls are talking about starting summer school right away this year, which didn’t happen last year,” says head softball coach Marie Curran. “And we’re doing a lot more community service projects.” Specifically, the athletes have decided to do community service at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo.
“Last year,” Curran explains, “the girls spent a lot of time at Women and Children’s Hospital, helping decorate the hallways and the wings and spending time with the children. They really enjoyed that. The woman who coordinated [the hospital program] is so excited that we’re planning to come back and spend more time this year.”
UB’s athletic teams also donate time to Roswell Park Cancer Institute, reading programs at local elementary schools, Habitat for Humanity and many other community-based initiatives.
Daniel Gvertz, BA '06, was a writer and an editor for the Spectrum for two years and also did color commentary for WRUB radio broadcasts of home Bulls basketball games during the 2004–05 season.