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UB Today

A publication of the University at Buffalo Alumni Association

Winter 2009





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A season to remember

MAC Champs The Bulls savor their MAC Championship at Ford Field.

Thrilling overtime victories, enthusiastic hometown crowds and a series of remarkable plays dotted the 2008 Bulls football season that culminated with the MAC Championship and an invitation to the International Bowl in Toronto. At UB Today press time, the Bulls were set to play against Connecticut in their first bowl appearance ever.

From the opening 42-17 win over Texas-El Paso on August 28, the Bulls gave their fans plenty to cheer about. Especially memorable was the October 18 overtime win over Army (27-24) before a Homecoming crowd of 21,719. Then came the 37-17 win over Miami (OH) on election night, November 4, nationally telecast by ESPN2 and the first such broadcast in Bulls history. Ten days later, the Bulls snatched a 43-40 victory over Akron in four overtimes. When it seemed such moments couldn’t be topped, the Bulls rallied from a 20-point deficit with 13 minutes left to beat Bowling Green, 40-34, in double overtime on November 21. Finally, on December 5 in Detroit, the Bulls beat undefeated Ball State, 42-24, to capture the MAC Championship.

Quarterback Drew Willy, running back James Starks and wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt played starring roles all season. But the Bulls’ success was a team effort highlighted by many moments of individual achievement. For Coach Turner Gill, the season proved a stunning validation of his coaching philosophy that emphasized maximum effort on each and every play.

‘The Catch’ comes calling

Like most great plays, the ball seemed to hang in the air for hours after it left the quarterback’s hand, as if there were a pause button at UB Stadium designed for maximum drama.

The date was September 13 and the UB football team trailed Temple, 28-24, with five seconds remaining. The Bulls had one last shot at victory from 35 yards away. Wide receiver Naaman Roosevelt corralled Drew Willy’s Hail Mary pass in the end zone to win the game. Replays of the catch aired on seemingly every sports highlight show.

By earning 40 percent of a nationwide vote as “play of the week,” Roosevelt’s grab earned UB $5,000 for its general scholarship fund as the Pontiac Game Changing Performance of the Week. As a result, the play was among the 13 weekly winners for the $100,000 award at season’s end.

Zeroes make heroes

“Desperately seeking scoring” might have been the tagline for a frustrated opposition during a remarkable run by the men’s soccer team this fall.

For more than two weeks, junior goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth and the UB Bulls men’s soccer team shut out the opposition, beginning in the 84th minute of a 2-1 loss at Michigan on September 14. They rolled through six wins and a tie until Niagara broke through in the first half of an October 5 draw.

The defense was equally outstanding in the streak. Senior defender Dan Gwyther’s superlative play on the backline, for instance, proved a boon for head coach John Astudillo and the entire team.

Capping a successful 12-4-4 season, six soccer Bulls have been named to the All–Mid American Conference (MAC) teams. Gwyther was named to the MAC first team along with junior midfielder Alex Marrello. Shuttleworth was named to the All-MAC second team, as were senior midfielder Dominic Oppong, junior forward Dan Bulley and junior defender Steffen Thoresen.

Athletes under a (cold) spell

Long Beach, CA, is a place so balmy that waterskiing and sailing are year-round options.

So when junior Jessica Cooper—a long- and triple-jumper on the UB track and field squad—first arrived in Buffalo from her Long Beach home, she discovered a climate strikingly different from her own, one that calls for new training methods.

Cooper says her training at UB usually takes place indoors when the cold weather arrives, “versus back home maybe two weeks out of our training season we would go inside.”

Jessica Fortman of the women’s basketball team also was accustomed to warmer weather. The sophomore forward from Ashland, KY, says the snow—more so than temperature—changed her training methods. “When you’re coming inside, trying to get warmed up [for practice] takes a lot longer,” she says.

True Blue setting for Hall of Famers

True Blue setting for Hall of Famers From left: Larry Gergley (EdB ’64), Bill Bilowus (EdM ’69 & EdB ’65), Paula Listrani Starwald (EdM ’03, BA ’01 & BA ’01), Ron Brandt (EdB ’72 & BS ’72), Mike Rielly, Ronald Balter (BA ’80), Mike Groh (BS ’78) and Gayle Terwilliger Michalak (EdB ’62).

Three former student athletes and a longtime athletic trainer were inducted into the Dr. and Mrs. Edmond J. Gicewicz Family UB Athletics Hall of Fame October 17 as part of True Blue Weekend.

In his first varsity season as a UB wrestler, Ron Brandt, EdB ’72 & BS ’72, of Grayson, GA, compiled an overall record of 34-1-1 and was 20-0-1 in dual matches. A year later, he posted a 20-2 mark overall, was 17-1 in dual matches and finished third in the NCAA Eastern Regional Championships, which earned him a berth in the NCAA championships.

Baseball player Mike Groh, BS ’78, of Buffalo, primarily played second base and batted .464 his senior year, finishing among the top 10 in batting average in NCAA Division I play. Upon graduation, he held nine UB records: five career marks and four singleseason records. Groh was inducted into the Western New York Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001.

Paula Listrani Starwald, EdM ’03, BA ’01 & BA ’01, of Hilton, NY, was a three-time, first-team all-MAC soccer player at forward; in midfield she was selected first-team all–Northeast Region in 1999; and a second- and third-teamer in other years. She was team captain in 1999 and 2000, and first team all-MAC Academic in 1998. Starwald is the career leader in goals, assists and points.

Mike Rielly of North Tonawanda, NY, served as UB’s head athletic trainer for nearly 26 years. Rielly served with distinction, while putting his athletes’ health and welfare at the forefront.

Also recognized were Gayle Terwilliger Michalak, EdB ’62, of Gainesville, FL, who received the Pioneer Award; and Bill Bilowus, EdM ’69 & EdB ’65, of East Aurora, NY, and Larry Gergley, EdB ’64, of Orlando, FL, who received distinguished alumni awards. The Russell J. Gugino Award went to Ronald Balter, BA ’80, of Brooklyn, NY.

City Mattress was lead sponsor of this event.

Flashback 1958

Flashback 1958

This has been a great year for UB football. The Bulls played in—and won—the Mid-American Conference championship game on December 5, and for the first time in 50 years, there was a bowl invitation to savor. In 1958, UB won eight games and defeated then-powerhouses Columbia and Harvard, making UB the top small college football program in the East and winner of the Lambert Cup.

The Lambert Cup was awarded in New York City on December 14, 1958. The team’s co-captains, Nick Bottini and Lou Reale, accepted the cup, with Chancellor Clifford C. Furnas, athletic director Jim Peele, coach Dick Offenhamer and members of the Lambert family looking on. There was a dinner at Toots Shor’s and an appearance on the popular Sunday night television program The Ed Sullivan Show. With the Lambert Cup and an invitation to play Florida State in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, it was arguably UB’s best season in 102 years of football. What happened next also made it one of the university’s finest hours.

When the university was informed that the team’s two African American players, Willie Evans and Mike Wilson, would not be welcome in Orlando, the team unanimously rejected the bowl invitation.

“Those of us who thrilled to their performances recognize them as fine football players, gentlemen and worthy representatives of the university,” Furnas said. “We have never been concerned with the color of their skins, nor do we think that should be made a point of issue by anyone else."

John Edens, University Archives

No Bull: volleyball jargon

UB mascot

You’re probably not the only one to think the volleyball match you’re viewing is being broadcast in a foreign language. Indeed, the fast-paced sport offers a laundry list of terms unique to its game. Here’s a glossary of the game’s tougher terms:

Back Set: Simple enough—it’s a set of the ball from behind the setter’s back. Campfire: A ball that hits the floor between several members of the defense. (Visualize the players gathered around the spot as if warming their hands.) Dig: Saving a spiked or well-hit ball from the court by passing it to a teammate while very close to the floor. Double Quick: When two prospective strikers move toward the setter for an inside hit. Floater: Similar to a knuckle ball in baseball—a serve that moves unpredictably because of its lack of spin. Kill: An attack that results in a point. Roof: A block struck above the net that falls directly below. Rotation: After a sideout, the players will move clockwise around the court. Six Pack: A spiked ball that hits the defensive player in the head or face. Wipe: When a hitter wins a point by playing a ball directly off a block.

That should be enough to hold a conversation with any volleyball fan.

Go to for updates on all team schedules and news, and for information on purchasing tickets.

Compiled by Nick Mendola, BA ’05