That’s approximately how long it had been since George Bailey had stepped foot inside his alma mater.
But on November 1, the Class of 1970 alumnus returned for the first time to attend the College’s inaugural ReuKnighted celebration. Held at the Welland Campus, the event was a collaboration between the College’s Alumni Relations and Athletics departments, and included a reunion weekend of activities.
For Bailey, attending the pre-game tailgate party sparked a trip down memory lane, as he marvelled over how much the College has grown and changed since he attended during its early days.
“There were only two buildings when I was here and that’s where we had our programming,” said the former Radio and Television student who enjoyed a career in public relations and communications for 30 years and wrote a travel column for 20. “I’m very impressed by the College’s programs and the facilities today. And the people here are still as enthusiastic and friendly as they have always been.”
Bailey was among an estimated 150 attendees who returned for a tailgate party on November 1. Hosted by NC’s Alumni Relations team, the event was held at the Core, and drew former athletes and alumni – mostly from Broadcasting – Radio, Television and Film, and Sport Management programs – as well as College staff and students.
For former Knights athlete John Mataya, who is VP and CFO of Bosch Rexroth in Welland, ReuKnighted was another reason to return to NC. Mataya has been a frequent visitor to the College since he graduated from Financial Management in 1984. In addition to cheering on the Knights basketball teams at home and on the road, he has been a supporter of the College and events such as the Seafood Gala and Golf Classic. He has also hired many college students and alumni over the years. His son also followed in his footsteps as a NC graduate.
“It’s always nice to come back to campus, connect with friends and watch the basketball team,” said Mataya.
The event also drew more recent alumni such as television host, reporter and basketball coach Amy Audibert, who graduated from the Broadcasting program in 2012 and has since worked for sports media networks including CBS Sports, NBATV, and NBATV Canada. The Niagara Falls native, who was a basketball player for the University of Miami prior to her days at NC, was an assistant coach for the Knights women’s basketball team (2011-2012) and men’s basketball team (2018-2019). She noted that she was happy to support ReuKnighted by working to broadcast the basketball games and attending the tailgate.
“There are a lot of people I work with in the industry that are here tonight,” she said. “A lot of NC grads work in the TV industry so it’s really fun when we get to chat.”
The alumni tailgate was followed by Knights home-opener basketball games in the Athletic Centre and an after-party. Festivities continued on November 2 with a National Scholar Brunch, a Hall of Fame induction and a volleyball double-header.
NC alumni engagement officer Jana Boniferro noted that following the success of the first alumni reunion of its kind, the College is considering future events to engage the wider alumni community, numbering more than 90,000 worldwide.
“Our first-ever ReuKnighted was a tremendous success,” said Boniferro. “It was amazing to witness the reactions of attendees after not seeing each other in years, and we love all the new memories that were created as we brought together members of our alumni community while cheering on our NC Knights.”
“It was great to see and meet so many Niagara College Knights alumni,” said Michele O’Keefe, associate director of Athletics and Recreation. “With basketball the focus on Friday, and Knights Hall of Fame induction of the 1999 and 2000 men’s volleyball teams on Saturday, the camaraderie ignited a flood of memories and storytelling. Our current student-athletes felt the pride in the gym for basketball and volleyball.”
Funds raised from ReuKnighted ticket sales support scholarships and bursaries NC.