Nine years ago, Bill Buzek was sailing along I-71 when he noticed a car on the side of the highway that was dangerously close to the lane. He pulled over and offered the young driver his cell phone so she could call someone to pick her up.
Instead, she asked if he could give her a ride to Xavier. She was late for basketball practice.
Buzek, who graduated in 1970, already knew the way to Schmidt Fieldhouse, where the women’s basketball team held practice. “When I dropped her off, she said, ‘You should come to the games sometime. They’re a lot of fun.’ And I said, ‘Perhaps we will.’ ”
True to his word, Buzek took his family to the next home game. “There was a fairly small turnout for the women’s games, and after the game they used to come out and mix with the fans, which was nice,” Buzek says. “And we started going to the games because of the process of the girls coming out after the game and just being nice to everybody.”
Through these post-game meetings, the Buzeks formed a close friendship with women’s basketball player Nikki (Kremer) Drew, who graduated in 1999. Drew, coincidentally, owned the car that had broken down and left her teammate stranded. “We entertained Nikki’s various suitors and boyfriends,” Buzek says. He also saw her off at the airport when she went to Europe to play basketball and even attended her wedding.
When Buzek reflects on that serendipitous day, he thinks not only of the friendship that followed, but how he reconnected with his alma mater. “Even though I graduated from Xavier, I wasn’t active at all with the alumni, and I had not been back there in many, many years,” Buzek says. “It gave me a chance to return through, of all vehicles, women’s basketball. And just the memories of Schmidt Fieldhouse were too nice.”