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Jake Madonia Photo by Paul Hokanson
Jake Madonia is tougher than cancer. The UB track and field thrower didn’t just triumph over synovial sarcoma, a rare cancer of the soft tissue, he rose above preconceptions about athletes fighting a serious illness. Unbelievably, and perhaps miraculously, Madonia didn’t miss any school despite radiation treatment and chemotherapy.
In May 2008, Madonia was scheduled to undergo surgery to remove something—they didn’t know what—from his foot. All he knew was that he was going to miss competing for a while. So he decided to have a go at the 2008 Empire State Games trials despite then being in the middle of treatment and having lost 20 pounds. He competed in the discus and won. Because of subsequent surgery, Madonia wasn’t able to compete in the actual games. And his competitive spirit didn’t make for too many restful days and nights while hospitalized.
“You were in there for five days at a time,” Madonia recalls. “You stare at the same four walls for five straight days with your parents. It’s like prison...with IV. I had two lines in me and this tree full of different medicines being pumped into me, on top of the sickness. For me, it’s very hard to sit in one place for five days.”
So with the approval—but not the recommendation—of his doctors and coaches, Madonia remained in school at UB and hit the gym. “It wasn’t something I just did,” he says. “I wanted to graduate on time and with the people I hung out with. I was really looking forward to grad school. As far as athletically, it’s something I’ve done every day of my entire life. It kept me sane more than anything.”
Madonia was expected to redshirt the 2009 season while recovering. Instead, he pushed ahead. In his first competition in two years, Madonia won the Upstate New York Challenge in January at Cornell University with a shot put throw of 55' 2".
Madonia’s inspirational story won him a 2009 Giant Steps Award as courageous male student athlete. Tina Villa, his friend and teammate, and Lorrina Kostuk, his girlfriend and also a UB student, worked with the athletics department to nominate him for the annual award. Sponsored by the National Consortium for Academics and Sports, the award is given to individuals who use sport to make positive social change and who help student athletes to succeed in all aspects of their lives.
“They had to put this package together with a slide show and in secret,” Madonia recalls. “One night at midnight Tina came over and said, ‘I want to show you this. You won this award.’ It shows how good the people around me are.” Funny how good folks find each other.
Zach Anderson Photo by Paul Hokanson
Baseball head coach Ron Torgalski always had faith in his pitcher Zach Anderson, so much so that he trotted the right-hander out to the mound more than any other pitcher in program history.
Now Anderson will look to inspire similar trust in the big leagues. The Toronto Blue Jays made Anderson their 29th-round draft pick on June 10, making the pitcher the highest drafted Bull since UB reinstated NCAA Division I baseball in 1999.
Anderson struck out more than a batter-per-inning in his senior year at UB, ringing up 55 would-be hitters in 49 innings. He was also the 2008 Reliever of the Year in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, pitching 27 innings with an almost spotless earned-run average of 0.33.
Other notable 29th-round picks in Major League Baseball history are current stars Ian Kinsler (Texas Rangers second baseman) and Adam LaRoche (Boston Red Sox first baseman), as well as pitchers Bobby Howry (San Francisco Giants) and Kyle Lohse (St. Louis Cardinals). In an interesting twist, another former 29th-round pick, Mike Koplove, currently with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and its Triple-A affiliate Indianapolis Indians, pitched for the Buffalo Bisons in 2008.
Sometimes one is better than two. The UB rowing team tied for the Jack Bratten Trophy in the Dad Vail Regatta in Philadelphia, a title awarded to the overall points champion, combining both women’s and men’s teams for the tournament. The thing is, UB doesn’t have a men’s intercollegiate team—the women did it all on their own.
2009 Dad Vail Regatta Rowing champs
The Bulls had two winning boats for the first time in the history of the program. Head Coach Rudy Wieler was understandably brimming with pride at another high point in a fantastic season. The women also won the Kerr Cup, the Knecht Cup and the Syracuse Invitational to go with a fourth-consecutive Harvey Cup.
Returning after a championship season in 2008, Coach Turner Gill and your UB Football Bulls are looking to clinch the top spot in the MAC again this year. Before each home game and during halftime, bring your UB Alumni Association membership card and join us in the exclusive Blue and White Stadium Club inside UB Stadium.
The club opens two hours before each home game and features special menu items not sold elsewhere in the stadium. Beer and wine are available for purchase to members 21 and older.
Not a member but want to come? Join today at www.alumni.buffalo.edu/join or call 1-800-284- 5382. Another reason why membership is a really big deal.
Desi Green, Jimmy Hamel and Dylan Dabolt finish as All-Americans at the NWCA (National Wrestling Coaches Association) Collegiate Championships.
Women’s tennis player Smaranda Stan wins the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Cissie Leary Award for sportsmanship in the east region.
Diving coach Karla Helder wins three gold medals, three silver medals and sets two new records at the 2009 Spring Masters National Championships in Tucson, AZ.
Men’s basketball guard Greg Gamble works out for the Toronto Raptors.
UB director of athletics Warde Manuel announces the hiring of Lee Nickell, former assistant coach at Fresno State and Alabama, as head men’s tennis coach.
University at Buffalo men’s soccer goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth decides to forgo his senior season and signs with the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer—the highest level of professional soccer in the United States.
Go to www.buffalobulls.com for updates on all team schedules and news, and for information on purchasing tickets.
Compiled by Nick Mendola, BA ’05