BUFFALO, N.Y. – All Hail Buffalo Bulls Nation. A network
of “watch-parties” stretching from Buffalo to both
American coasts will gather at homes and restaurants at kick-off
time to cheer on the University at Buffalo’s latest national
bowl appearance, sending their long-range support and winning vibes
to Bronco Stadium in Boise.
The parties — many coming together mid-week following the
Bulls accepting of the “Famous Idaho Potato Bowl” bid
— are the UB faithful’s way of being connected to their
football team that earned only its third bowl bid in UB football
(For a list of watch parties go to http://bit.ly/bullsview.)
It’s the next-best gesture of support after being there,
organizers say. For those who can’t make the excursion to
Idaho (UB Athletics already has organized a trip), they can party
together while watching the Dec. 21 nationally televised game,
celebrate the Bulls’ successful season and relive memorable
moments from their alma mater.
Many alumni and students are connecting through social media
(#bowlingbulls), too, sharing photos of themselves, index fingers
positioned at their heads, with the enthusiastic “Horns
Up!” meme (#hornsup,#bowlingbulls). Organizers are expecting
plenty of similar photos to be shared from the various
watch-parties around the county.
The university is engaging UB alumni and fans worldwide through
an interactive web hub, http://www.buffalo.edu/goubbulls.html,
which will serve as a digital gathering place to see and share
“I’m absolutely thrilled about this bowl game, and
judging from the huge response we’re getting from our alumni,
I know they are, too,” says Carol Gloff, ’75, president
of the UB Alumni Association.
“Many of our alumni chapters are hosting viewing parties,
and I encourage all alums to watch and cheer on the Bulls, no
matter where they are.”
Building on the excitement of UB’s first bowl bid since
2009, the university has reached out to the 230,000 alumni
worldwide through social media and personal outreach. The interest
and school loyalty have generated ongoing plans for numerous
watch-parties. Alumni banding together for long-distance cheering
have planned parties in Buffalo, New York City, Philadelphia,
Albany, Denver, San Diego, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, Los Angeles,
Washington, D.C., and other cities with strong alumni chapters,
according to UB’s Alumni Office.
Watch-party organizer Arielle Larmondra, ’06, leader of
the UB Alumni affiliate in Charlotte, N.C., sees the game as a
perfect opportunity to build school spirit and strengthen
grads’ connection to UB. A former captain of the UB
women’s soccer team, Larmondra also appreciates an athletic
milestone such as this.
Larmondra’s watch party will take place at a locally owned
gathering spot called Jackelope Jack’s in Charlotte.
She’s expecting about 30 people, but that could grow before
Several previously silent UB alumni have contacted her
specifically about the game and said they are interested in
attending the party. Without a doubt, Larmondra says, the Famous
Idaho Potato Bowl is an opportunity to build upon an allegiance and
affection UB grads have for their school.
“When the sports teams do well, it’s easier to build
camaraderie around the university,” says Larmondra, who owns
her own wellness company in Charlotte called Wellspring Wellness.
“We’re going to try to gain some momentum. I’m
looking forward to getting this group back together and starting
fresh with these transplants from Buffalo.
“UB was a big school, but we still were a tight
community,” she says. “It’s going to be fun to
get together and talk about classes, past-experiences, what we miss
and what we’re really grateful for from our
Closer to home, UB Bulls faithful looking for companionship on
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl game day have numerous options. So far,
the list of parties organized by UB includes the two Northtown
locations of Santora’s Pizza Pub & Grill, at 1402
Millersport Highway, adjacent to UB’s North Campus, and 7566
Transit Road, across from Eastern Hills Mall. There is also a party
planned at Buffalo Wild Wings, 3540 McKinley Parkway, Hamburg, near
the McKinley Mall.
Plans for numerous local parties continue to come together,
informal as they may be.
Michael Lackey, ’07, who now lives in Amherst, is firmly
on the party bandwagon. Plans are still shaping up, but Lackey says
he will do his best to get it together before the day of the
So far, he pictures a house party with a “potato
“Ideas such as potato skins, loaded potatoes, potato
chips, French fries, home fries, hot dogs with hash brown topping,
and mashed potatoes are what I have come up with so far,”
One issue remains: “It really depends on whether I can do
it with two kids at my house or if we will go to a restaurant/bar
and watch the game,” he says. “It’s something to
be proud of when your college sports team is doing well. I
did go to the International Bowl in Toronto (in 2009), but Idaho is
a bit out of my range at this moment.”
Laura Hartinger, ’91, is also planning a potato-themed
party. But she has a special guest. Her daughter, Anna Hartinger, a
freshman studying pharmacy, is a football and basketball
cheerleader. She originally thought she would be going to Boise,
but then was told the limited spots to the game would go to those
in the upper classes.
“We’ll have our own UB cheerleader at home for our
party,” says Hartinger. “I like it.”
The Hartinger party continues the potato theme, but with its own
flavor, so to speak.
“This is what we’re doing for our party,”
Laura says. “It’s for family and friends, and for
anyone my daughter wants to bring home from school.”
At the Hartinger party, potatoes rule, she says. There will be a
pin-the-eye-on-the-potato contest. Everyone will bring a potato
dish to pass. There will be contests for best dish and also a
best-cheer contest at halftime. Everyone will have to wear a hat
with a potato on it, either a picture or a real potato. Those at
the party will play hot potato.
And Mr. Potato Head will be at the party, Hartinger says. But he
will be wearing a UB Bulls outfit.
The game is scheduled to be broadcast nationally on ESPN and