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Alumni Profiles

Bo Ryan’ 69 Takes Wisconsin Badgers To Final Four

Wisconsin Badgers coach Bo Ryan ’69 cuts down the net after his team’s win over Arizona secured their spot in the Final Four.  Photo courtesy of the University of Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Badgers coach Bo Ryan ’69 cuts down the net after his team’s win over Arizona secured their spot in the Final Four. Photo courtesy of the University of Wisconsin.

Wilkes University Athletic Hall of Famer William “Bo” Ryan ’69 ‘s career as a collegiate head basketball coach reached another milestone as he led his Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team into the NCAA March Madness Final Four. The Badgers’ Elite Eight win over the University of Arizona secured their spot in the semi-finals. After an exciting matchup with the Kentucky Wildcats, Ryan and his team ended their Final Four journey with a heartbreaking one-point loss, 74-73.

During a press conference, Ryan said, “I really love coaching this team. I knew they had something in them; it was just trying to get it out of them [and] sometimes that was a little bit of a challenge. But they answered it. They answered everything. And that’s how we got here.” Ryan credits his team’s success to playing hard and smart all season, qualities inherent in his coaching strategy.

Ryan’s 30-year record screams consistency. At the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, his teams completed two undefeated seasons, won four NCAA Division III national championships, and set an NCAA all-division record for fewest points allowed at just 47.5 per game. This consistency resulted in an 82.2 career winning percentage, an all-time best in Division III basketball history.

Ryan carried his coaching strategy from the Division III to the Division I level and now heads the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team, where consistency continues to pay big dividends. Now in his 13th season at the university, his teams have won over 300 games and appeared in 13 NCAA tournaments, including six Sweet 16 games and two Elite Eight appearances.

Jerry Rickrode, Wilkes major gifts officer and former head coach of the University men’s basketball team, first met Ryan in 1998 when both coaches’ teams played in the Division III Final Four. After the meeting they developed a friendship. “He won’t deviate from the system. It’s not about individual players or individual match-ups,” Rickrode explains. “It is and has always been a team system.”

Ryan discussed his coaching strategy at a recent Final Four news conference. He said that his approach to the Final Four game was no different than his approach to a Division III Final Four. “The thing about valuing the basketball, playing good position defense, trying not to give up easy baskets…I just think that our guys have shown that they’ve been pretty consistent with the basics. I think that always gives you a chance.”

Regardless of all the success he has achieved, Ryan’s attitude remains consistent. “He’s down to earth. Whether he’s coaching UW-Platteville or Wisconsin, he’s the same guy as always,” Rickrode says. “He’s been good to the Wilkes program and reaches out often.”

By Francisco Tutella

Wilkes Sisters Bond Via Book Project

Kerri Frail '12, left, and her sister Nicole '10 collaborated on The Little Red Book of Kitchen Wisdom.

Kerri Frail ’12, left, and her sister Nicole ’10 collaborated on The Little Red Book of Kitchen Wisdom.

Food unites individuals, and a food-themed book provided two sisters and Wilkes alumnae with an opportunity to bond and put their Wilkes degrees to work. “James Beard once said, ‘Food is our common ground, a universal experience.’ Food can – and should – bring us together,” Nicole Frail ’10 explains when asked to describe The Little Red Book of Kitchen Wisdom.

Frail co-authored the book, which was released April 1, with her boyfriend of nine years, Manhattan restaurant wd~50 cook Matthew Magda. Her sister Kerri ’12 provided the illustrations. The book contains food-related quotes from respected chefs and restaurateurs, television personalities, actors, artists, and authors who influence today’s professional chefs, bakers, home cooks and foodies. The authors’ aim for the book is to emphasize the collective power of food.

The idea for the book came to Nicole when she realized that New York-based Skyhorse Publishing, where she works as an assistant editor, did not yet have a book about food in its Little Book series. The series is a collection of 5-by-7 books in various colors that include quotes or advice on specific subjects. She had previously talked with Magda and her sister about producing a cookbook, so she pitched the idea of doing a food-themed Little Book to her publisher. After receiving a contract, Nicole and Magda spent the next six months compiling food quotes from various sources and writing introductions.

Little Red Book_FrailKerri, a graphic designer and marketing specialist at Mericle Commercial Real Estate Services in Wilkes-Barre, became involved in the project through her work as a freelance graphic designer. She says, “I love working with Nicole. We’ve always gotten along as sisters, so the transition into a professional working relationship wasn’t difficult. She has a very supportive, positive attitude and always allows me to have creative freedom over my designs.” Kerri created all 52 drawings – among them cloves of garlic, a candle-lit table for two, tomato gardens and bottles of wine.

This is not the first time that the sisters have collaborated on a book. While editing Emma Silverman’s The Joy of Yoga: Fifty Sequences for Your Home and Studio Practice, Nicole hired Kerri to design the illustrations.

Nicole graduated from Wilkes with a degree in communications. As an undergraduate student, she served as editor-in-chief of The Beacon. Kerri graduated with a degree in integrative media and a minor in art. Both sisters look forward to collaborating on future projects.

By Francisco Tutella

Angella DellaFortuna Means Business At MetLife Stadium

Angela DellaFortuna '08 shows off MetLife Stadium, where she is assistant controller, to fellow Wilkes alum Bill Steiner '07.

Angela DellaFortuna ’08 shows off MetLife Stadium, where she is assistant controller, to fellow Wilkes alum Bill Steiner ’07.

Angela DellaFortuna ’08 recalls the moment she knew that she wanted to be a part of the New York Giants football franchise. “I remember my parents taking my sister and me to a Super Bowl party at their friends’ house. I can still remember the house filled with Giants memorabilia, the New Kids on the Block performing during half time and everyone cheering as the Giants won their second Super Bowl.”

Since then, she has dreamed of becoming chief financial officer for the team. As an assistant controller at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., DellaFortuna has the pleasure of working for two of the nation’s top sports franchises, the Giants and the New York Jets. “MetLife Stadium is the only NFL stadium owned by two NFL teams,” she says. “This makes working here extremely unique because everything I do not only affects the stadium but the Giants and Jets as well.”

Her responsibilities extend beyond the professional football season. The stadium hosts other sports and events, such as international soccer matches, concerts, college football games and motorsports events like Monster Jam. During her four years there, DellaFortuna has worked behind the scenes at such events as Wrestlemania, a Brazil versus Argentina national soccer team match, a U2 concert, and Super Bowl XLVIII, the most watched televised event in United States history.

The work has its perks. She explains, “I find out information before the public — for example, knowing what was going to happen during the half time show on Super Bowl Sunday or what the plan was for Wrestlemania prior to the event.”

DellaFortuna remains active in the Wilkes community. She stays in contact with her undergraduate mentors, Sidhu School of Business professors Anne Batory and Marianne Rexer. She says both continue to be great mentors and advisors. DellaFortuna provided her expertise to help the Sidhu School develop its new sports and event management program. Rexer explains, “While Angela was helpful in reviewing our entire program, we also asked and received feedback on the law topics we thought were necessary. She was helpful in narrowing down the topics and specifying when the students would be ready to take the course.” The new program begins in the fall 2014 semester.

Rexer adds, “While Angela was in school, she was not only intelligent but capable of applying her knowledge to almost any situation. She was driven to succeed and could easily envision the path to make it happen.”

DellaFortuna certainly envisions a path for herself — one that leads straight to the CFO’s office. With a smile she says, “I like to think I’m one step closer to my dream job, but we’ll see.”

By Francisco Tutella


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