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“A rising tide raises all boats:” Bobcat Blitz provides financial opportunity to Quinnipiac

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In early March 2024, Quinnipiac’s winter seasons were coming to a close and the spring season was already well underway. While competitions were taking place on ice, courts and fields, a new endeavor was brewing behind the scenes. 

John Bonora was born and raised in Hamden and his wife, Michelle, is a graduate of Quinnipiac University. The two of them saw the success Quinnipiac teams had during each of their games and believed that something more was needed for the athletics program to thrive in college athletics today. 

Three months later at the newly opened Haven Beer Company, Bonora, his wife and a board of directors hosted a launch party for a new opportunity for Quinnipiac athletes – Bobcat Blitz

Bobcat Blitz is a Quinnipiac Athletics recognized name, image and likeness (NIL) collective that will be used to allow athletes to get paid while playing their sport. College athletes have been able to make money off of their name since June of 2021 due to a ruling by the NCAA

“Many other larger universities have collectives out there that focus on either men’s sports or a singular sports team,” Bonora said. “We wanted it [Bobcat Blitz] to be representative of both men’s and women’s sports.”

Bonora wanted the corporation to be set up like a nonprofit, that way donors could be confident that their donations were going directly to the players. 

In the early stages, eight athletes from five different sports had been a part of the NIL collective. 

Madison Samoskevich from the women’s ice hockey team and Jenna Sloan from the women’s tennis team both admittedly did not know anything about NIL. Since first learning about the opportunity about a month ago, they are optimistic about what it can do for the athletes in their respective programs. 

“I do not know what it is going to look like in two years, but I know it is going to be booming,” Sloan said. ”I am excited for what our underclassmen get to experience.”

The Bobcat Blitz Board of Directors’ biggest concern when setting up the collective was the community. With over 30 local companies in New Haven County and a few national companies, the board of directors wanted to make sure that the community continued to grow. 

“My wife and I firmly believe that as Quinnipiac and Quinnipiac Athletics go, so does the local community,” Bonora said. “We really think that this is an important endeavor to support the local community around the New Haven County area.” 

Rising junior, forward Amarri Tice is a Bobcat Blitz athlete. Tice is coming off a year of success that he did not even see coming. 

He has only been in Hamden for a little over a year, but that was almost all of the time he spent at Quinnipiac. 

Starting in late January/early February, Tice had been receiving calls about leaving the Bobcats for other programs after the 2023-24 season. When the season ended in late March, the calls came more often. 

So much so, that Tice had to take to social media with a simple message on April 4:

On April 6, he announced his return to Hamden for a second season. It was the people that made Quinnipiac feel like a second home for him. 

“It was a no-brainer for me. I had to come back. Just the people that I have met, the coaching staff, my teammates,” Tice said. “Everyone in the community, the supporters, a lot of families, their kids. I couldn’t leave this place.”

The Quinnipiac men’s basketball team has six new players heading into the 2024-25 season, including five first-year players. 

As a part of the recruiting process, the idea of NIL and making money came up to those players, but it was not the biggest concern for them. 

“Surprisingly, a lot of our younger guys did not really ask about the money. They kind of have the same mindset as I do,” Tice said. “[They] just want to be a part of a great basketball program.”

Sloan, Samoskevich and Tice along with other athletes got the chance to meet with alumni and donors to the collective at the launch party on June 12. The event gave them a great perspective on how much people care about their performance on and off the field. 

“I could have left to get a lot more money, but it’s not all about the money for me,” Tice said. “It is about feeling like a family and this feels like home.” 

“It’s cool to see the alumni here and just hear what they have to say about their experiences through Quinnipiac and how highly they talked about the school,” Samoskevich said. 

Kyle Robinson has been the head coach of the volleyball team at Quinnipiac since 2019. His program stands on being a family and selflessness. This new age of college athletics is confusing to Robinson, so he has chosen not to panic and “ride the wave.” 

Robinson is going to run his program the same way that he has always run it but says the compensation is good for athletes. 

“If I have a pile of money dropped into my lap and that means I can take care of my athletes even more, I am going to do that,” Robinson said. “That does not mean I am going to go out and start recruiting athletes who just do not fit into our family.”

That sentiment is felt throughout all of the athletic programs. For Robinson’s program, it’s about being soulful.  

“If we have athletes that show up that are not soulful, they just won’t be Bobcats. It’s that simple,” Robinson said. 

The gathering was the first of its kind that was not a sporting event since Robinson has been a coach at Quinnipiac University. 

That launch party continued that caring support from the Quinnipiac and Hamden community with close to 150 people in attendance.

“Events like this are such a privilege. Not only for our department but also the community in general,” Robinson said. 

According to other MAAC school’s athletics websites, Quinnipiac is one of six schools with an NIL collective. In the ECAC, Quinnipiac is the only school that has a collective after Ivy League schools show no movement toward creating collectives. Colgate University, a member of the ECAC, does have an NIL collective set up for their men’s and women’s basketball programs, The 13 Collective. St. Lawrence, Clarkson, Union and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute do not have NIL collectives either (hockey is the only sport that is Division I at their schools.) 

“A rising tide raises all boats,” Bonora said. “We are a community-first organization. We have got great leaders locally that have stepped up to support us. It’s just the beginning.”

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About the Contributor
Connor Coar
Connor Coar, President
Connor Coar is a third-year journalism major from Honesdale, Pennsylvania. He is a part of the School of Communications 3+1 accelerated dual-degree program and will receive his master’s in Sports Journalism in 2025. Before becoming president, Connor was an associate and executive producer for Bobcat Breakdown and a beat reporter for the women’s soccer and women’s ice hockey teams. Connor is also a member of the Quinnipiac Bobcats Sports Network.

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