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Backer Bits: 6th Man Club Helping Hoops Team Flourish

By Walter Stubbs

The 2017-18 St Bonaventure Men’s College Basketball season is in full swing.  With an 10-2 record and with one of the most successful non conference slates in team history in the books, the Bonnies are playing up to the expectations given them this preseason, when they were predicted to finish second in the Atlantic Ten and a return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012. The team’s victory over Syracuse on Friday night marked one of the most significant wins in not only the Mark Schmidt era, but in program history as it snapped a 13 thousand plus day losing streak to the Orange.

Most of the success in recent years of the men’s basketball team can be contributed to Head Coach Mark Schmidt, his assistant coaches and the players.  But if you ask Schmidt about the team’s success, he attributes it to another group.  “Without the support of the Sixth Man Club, we could not have the program where it is today and I might not have a job,” said Schmidt. 

Schmidt is referring to a group which was formed in 2003 for donors who support the men’s basketball team.  As of 2016-17 there were 30 members who contributed $387,636 to the program.  That money has been implemented to help the team travel on charter flights, a necessity today as it cuts down on missed class time and travel time.  It also helps with meals and accommodations as well as ipad’s for the players to keep up on there class work when they are away. 

Tristan Mulcahy, Director of Athletics Advancement, and who is in charge of the Sixth Man Club, states, “The success of the program correlates with the amount of money we bring in. If you look at 2015-16, $171,000 was raised. In 2016-17, $387,636.00 was raised. Our goal in 2017-18 is $500,000 with the number one priority with that money going towards more charters.  It costs between $20,000 and $30,000 for each charter and the charter is more of a necessity because of where Bonaventure is located (Olean, with no major airport) and it reduces the amount of class time missed by the players and it gives our players more rest time. These charters are jets, not props because of safety.  We now have seven charter jets, compared to 2015 when we had three props.  We can’t do that without the help of the Bona Alums and fans who are members of the Sixth Man Club.”

The money raised by the Sixth Man Club has also helped in the upgrade of the coaches offices in 2016 and this year with an eye toward renovating the locker room.  Again, this cannot be done without the help of the Sixth Man Club and the BAF (Bona Athletic Fund) which has been around since 2001.  Mulcahy has been on the road, looking for potential new members, to join the Sixth Man Club and to continue the success of the basketball program.  \

“We are a small catholic school, with a small enrollment competing in Division 1 Athletics at a high level.  We need the help of the Bona Alums who care about athletics as well as fans of the program to help.”  This year, the membership to be a Sixth Man Member is $7,500.00.  Membership gets you home and away tickets to games and a charter flight with the team to an away game along with hotel accommodations and meal with the team.  You also get to chat with Schmidt on a conference call (worth the price of admission alone) with other Sixth Man Members, another among the perks to being a member. And, of course, if the Bonnies play in any Post Season game, be it NCAA or NIT,  you get priority seating. And, says Mulcahy, if you can’t be a Sixth Man Member at the moment, the BAF is another organization in the athletics, to give. “Being a BAF member is also valuable to the athletic department, and you are a member with any donation above 25 dollars.  We value those memberships as well.” 

If you read the Bona Blog, you obviously follow the Men’s Basketball team.  If you want to help the program retain its recent success, become a member.  As Mulcahy quipped, “I can be reached at any time and will be more than happy to discuss this with any of our alumni.” 

Lead Photo courtesy of former Bonnie David Andoh. You can visit his website here 

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A member of the class of 2008, Nolan spent four years as a student assistant with the program. He has written professionally for such outlets as espn.com/insider, Athlon Sports Magazines, Cox Sports Online and Blue Ribbon Previews. Ian was named one of the “140 Personalities to Follow in College Basketball” on twitter by The Sporting News.