Bryant isn’t perfect, but it was perfect for me: the power of the campus on the hill in Smithfield

Updated: May 2

“This was the school.”


Fordham University was my place. “It was perfect,” I thought. The city lights mere minutes away, a killer business program, and the best student-run radio station of any Division 1 school; who wouldn’t want to bet on the Rams? I simply could not be denied my wish.


To save you weeks of agony, I ended up ruling out Fordham as my college commitment in 2015. It was the one school I’d been serious about for a solid 18 months; the only one I saw myself at. But when tuition was hiked and the financial aid office wasn’t budging, a roadblock came…and it was lethal enough to prevent me from choosing what I thought was my dream school.


Next thing you know, it was one week off of school; you may call it crunchtime if you wish. The date is Sunday, April 26th, 2015. Deposit Day is Friday, May 1st. I had exactly 5 days to start over.


Luckily, I had at least 5-6 other schools in the backlog that, if not for my guidance counselors at St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, Connecticut, I would’ve overlooked. There were state schools, prestigious private universities, and community college that had all granted me acceptance. But it still felt as though I was lost; unwilling to start over, unwilling to “fall in love” again with the prospect of what the next four years could look like.


“Well what about that business school Dad made you apply to? Bryant, right?” my mom exclaimed.


With nothing to lose, and less than a week to make a decision, I caved. And as such, we game planned for a Monday off of school and a day trip to Smithfield, Rhode Island. My parents couldn’t take off work on such short notice, so along comes my grandfather to go on college tour #1 with me.

To be candid, it wasn’t a “love at first sight” relationship with Bryant. The tour guide was decent (at best), the buildings were on the older side (even though more investments were coming), and it was off the beaten path from my suburban Connecticut home. But, if you ask my grandfather, something about it made my face gleam a certain way.


And so, after a few more tours that just didn’t do it for me, Bryant became my home.

To give you an idea, this is what the Chace Athletic Center looked like before getting renovated in 2018. To say it needed a facelift was an understatement.


It took a while to find my way. I got in with a good group of friends my freshman year, but it still didn’t feel right. Sure, pledging a fraternity gave me my best friends for life…the men at my wedding and beyond. My student entrepreneurship group gave me knowledge to last a lifetime, and a network willing to help. There were many friends, encounters, struggles, heartbreaks, and high points along the way.


It took me a couple of months to realize that the perfect complement to my studies, my social circle, and my life was right in front of me all along: sports.


I’d dabbled in broadcasting before Bryant, but never thought about making a living from it. So, I joined WJMF, the student radio station, calling both men’s and women’s hoops to what was admittedly a small audience.


One thing led to another, and I rose the ranks. From getting the student radio play-by-play gig, to my days as a student worker in the broadcasting department, to being selected to call the Bulldogs’ NEC Championship Lacrosse team my sophomore year, the opportunities kept coming.


Fast forward: I’ve now had the honor of serving as the Public Address Announcer for Bryant’s basketball programs for the past four years. The Athletic Communications staff at Bryant had parted ways with its PA announcers after the previous head coach stepped down in 2018, and they needed something new: a new voice for a new program, a new coach, and a new look & feel in the gym. So, they took a gamble on a twenty-one-year-old business student, whose only experience with reading starting lineups was in the driveway & a single NCAA Lacrosse tournament game.

Since I started this gig in November 2018, I’ve seen moments that will go down in Bryant history. Who can forget two game-winners in two months for forward SaBastian Townes, a 105-104 game against Sacred Heart, the record-setting 138-point performance in 2021, and year announcing to not a single fan in the crowd (with masks & face shields)?


I keep coming back to Hofstra beat writer Jerry Beach’s comments about his alma mater in his 2020 piece eulogizing the team.


“Like Bryant itself, the athletic program wasn’t perfect; but like Bryant itself, it was perfect for me.”


Where else does a student get to sniff the gameday environment in such a capacity? To me, it was the culmination of some excellent years at the Campus on the Hill in Smithfield, RI. A corporate-park-looking school became my home; and I had finally found my fit in it.

Bryant gave me my perfect fit, and my friends for life. This was taken in early 2017 on the shores of Tavira, Portugal, as part of the Sophomore International Experience.

 

EXPLICIT CONTENT WARNING: Sure, Bryant has been the heat of public dismay in the past few weeks. Yes; the “Fuck You Wagner” chants should be disavowed, as should the “YOU SMELL LIKE SHIT” cries as an opposing team is walking on to the court.


The people claiming that this runs “to the core” of Bryant make me laugh, though. Yes, let’s condemn the few that weren’t upholding that standard. But to say this reflects an institutional problem is simply naïve; do they truly understand what they’re saying?


The Bryant that lured me in, the Bryant that has a bond so special amongst its community, and the Bryant that is truly omnipresent? Well, it runs so much more than just a day will ever quantify.


To me, the Bryant I know is raising $80k for cancer research. It’s rallying around fellow students when a classmate unexpectedly passes away. It’s the place that offered me a chance to travel the world, the place I met my girlfriend, and the place I evolved from a boy to a man.


So, please; before you trash Bryant, think about what you’re saying.


I’m proud to be a Bulldog; today, and every day.

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