Published December 20, 2018
MOBILE, ALABAMA — When the UB Bulls battle the Troy Trojans Saturday in the 20th annual Dollar General Bowl, Amanda Benson just might be one of the few people — possibly the only person — who has ties to both universities.
Benson obtained her bachelor’s degree in exercise science in 2000 from UB’s School of Public Health and Health Professions. She then received her master’s in physical education from Eastern Kentucky University and her doctorate in human performance from the University of Southern Mississippi.
She began her career in academia in 2003 as an assistant professor of athletic training at Troy. She served in various capacities during her 11 years at Troy, including clinical coordinator, department chair and program director for athletic training.
While Benson has allegiances to both UB and Troy, there’s no question about who she’ll be rooting for come kickoff Saturday.
“Although I really enjoyed my time at Troy, I’ll be wearing my UB blue,” she said by phone earlier this month. Benson, a native of Dunkirk, will be back in Western New York for the holidays, watching the game on ESPN with her family.
Benson moved to LSU in 2015, where she’s now a professor of professional practice in the School of Kinesiology and the assistant program director for athletic training.
She hasn’t been in Buffalo for 18 years, but Benson still bleeds UB blue and follows the Bills and Sabres. “I’m that person who wears a Bills shirt on Monday, even when we lose,” she said.
She’s also continued to follow UB athletics. Benson worked with the women’s basketball, men’s soccer, wrestling and football teams as an athletic training student at UB.
Benson’s time at UB coincided with the Bulls’ transition from a Division I-AA program (now known as the Football Championship Subdivision) to I-A (now called the Football Bowl Subdivision).
“It’s been phenomenal to watch them go from not even being a program that could participate in the bowl games, to a (Football Championship Subdivision) program to recruiting, doing well and making it to a bowl game. I’m a proud alumni,” she said.
Benson has been feeling those prideful moments a bit more in recent years. “It used to be that when I told people where I went to school, they looked at me puzzled,” she said. “Especially in this profession, a lot of people are at schools that have a long tradition of athletics. UB has a long tradition of having athletic teams, but it wasn’t as well known.”
That’s changed, thanks to UB football going to its second bowl game in the past five years and, of course, men’s and women’s basketball becoming regulars in the NCAA Tournament.
“Now, people say, ‘Oh yeah, they’ve had a heck of a season with basketball.’ People are really starting to realize where I’m from.”
She’s hoping UB gains a little more national exposure with a win on Saturday in what would be the Bulls’ first bowl game victory in program history.
Still, Benson said, “Even if UB loses, I won’t really lose.”