It was amazing to most experts how the NBA draft unfolded this past month. Few thought that IU would have two of the first five draft picks. This did not surprise me as much as how far down some of those “sure bets” were dropped. Kentucky’s Noels was the big drop for most, but let’s face it, he has a serious injury. Who knows how well he will rehab? Those IU fans who do not like their present coach are wondering how he could have had two top five draft picks and not win it all. What might have been part of this reason is the fact that the Big Ten had quite a list of top-draft picks. What I found both interesting and strange was all the trades that were made. It seems teams want bodies they can trade for some known NBA player or a later draft pick. Whether that player is the best at the time seemed to have little significance in their picks. ‘Let’s just get a body to trade’ is their theory. Victor Oladipo should be able to play fairly quickly with his varied skills and speed. Cody Zeller will have to bulk up a lot and get used to being banged around by everyone before he will make his impact. As usual, the huge bodies of older foreign players made their splash in the draft. Seven footers who could shoot threes are always popular in the pros. I still think freshmen should not be drafted–or sophomores, for that matter. Now starts the trek of nineteen year olds with no money signing a huge contract and then ending up in the wrong “court”. No one seems to care as long as they can shoot or rebound a basketball.
Congratulations to the following track athletes who won regional titles this past week!On the boys side, Matt Riehle of Milan was the 400m champ, Adam Moster of Batesville who won the 800m, and East Central’s 4 x 100m relay team. Good luck to these winners at the track finals this weekend.On the girls side, South Ripley’s Megan Cole won the 3200m run, and Lily Grimes of Greensburg won the shot put. Good luck to these two ladies when they compete for the state meet this weekend.There are other athletes in the area who will be competing at the state meets, but they were not regional winners. Good luck to them as well!
MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. — John Bonamego stood at the podium in the NIRSA Room in the Student Activity Center on Central Michigan’s campus, about 100 yards from Kelly-Shorts Stadium.With the Central Michigan logo plastered behind him, he fielded questions about who would start at quarterback, the running back competition and status of tight end Tyler Conklin. That Bonamego was there to answer them was more remarkable than any of his answers.He had wanted this job since playing wide receiver for the Chippewas in the 1980s. Even as he made his way around NFL sidelines, in Jacksonville, Green Bay, New Orleans, Miami and finally Detroit, he never forgot about Mount Pleasant. In 1999, at a Dairy Queen in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, Bonamego and the woman who would become his wife sat down for their first date.“The first thing we talked about … was CMU,” Paulette Bonamego said.In 2015, Bonamego was the special teams coordinator for the Lions when then-CMU head coach Dan Enos left. Central Michigan considered Bonamego a natural fit. He lived a few counties southeast, was an alumnus and had more than 15 years of NFL experience. In February of that year, CMU introduced its new head coach. That fall, he nearly beat Syracuse in the Carrier Dome before the Orange kicked an overtime field goal to win, 30-27. This fall, on Saturday, Bonamego leads the Chippewas (2-0) back into the Dome for a rematch with the Orange (1-1) at 3:30 p.m.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBut in summer 2015, a few months before his first game, the job Bonamego had always wanted was in jeopardy. He was diagnosed with cancer. But that didn’t worry him the most.“There’s people relying on you,” Bonamego said. “My biggest motivator through all that was not beating cancer. I knew that I would beat cancer. My biggest fear was that I would somehow let somebody down. I didn’t want to let anybody down. I didn’t want to have a situation where someone else was having to do my work.”Courtesy of Paulette BonamegoA few months earlier, in Phoenix for Bonamego’s first Mid-American Conference spring meeting, he and Paulette decided to hike the local foothills.As they ascended, Bonamego kept stopping to rest, which Paulette thought was unusual. At first, she began to tease Bonamego, saying “I beat you, I beat you.” But then she stopped joking. Bonamego had never gotten tired like this before.Weeks later, in Florida for their son Javier’s high school graduation, Paulette noticed a golf ball-sized lump protruding from Bonamego’s neck. She suspected it was a swollen lymph node, so Bonamego took some cold medicine.Bonamego rarely slept through the night and, when his eyes finally did close, he woke up drenched in sweat. To the Bonamegos, this was not unusual. Nights like these started when he was the Lions, and they dismissed them as normal side effects from stress. He had a demanding job and they had a dusty house in Birmingham with poor air circulation. Paulette sweat during the night, too. But even after they moved to Mount Pleasant, the night sweats persisted.“Those were signs and we just kind of ignored them,” Paulette said. “… We just never thought about it.”The cold medicine wasn’t working. Nothing was. So, they went to the doctor, who told Bonamego he had cancer. Paulette struggled to breath. She felt an “emotional sickness.”“Hearing those words gets your attention,” Bonamego said.On June 18, Bonamego published an open letter on CMU’s web site to announce he had a tumor on his left tonsil. Published on September 14, 2017 at 9:09 pm Contact Andrew: email@example.com | @A_E_Graham Facebook Twitter Google+ Days began before 5 a.m. every Monday through Friday, the couple drove together about two hours southeast to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Bonamego underwent radiation and received weekly doses of chemotherapy.Because of where the cancer manifested, the easiest way to irradiate Bonamego’s tonsil was through his neck. To ensure he didn’t absorb stray radiation at the daily appointments, Bonamego needed to lie completely still. He sometimes lay there for several hours without moving. The entire time, his head was held in place by a mesh mask.“When you get in those situations,” Bonamego said, “you really don’t have any other option. You can give up, or you can fight it.”Even though doctors detected the cancer early and it was a treatable strain, squamous cell carcinoma, the regimen ravaged Bonamego’s body. His toenails and fingernails split and cracked. He shed 70 pounds. His tongue swelled and his mouth filled with about 30 canker sores. He broke out in rashes and the radiation burned his neck until it blistered. As he returned for more treatment, flesh fell from his neck and his players grew accustomed to seeing their coach’s shirt collar permanently soaked with blood.“You have times that aren’t so bad,” Bonamego said, “and times that just, for lack of a better word, suck.”Eventually, to keep him properly nourished and hydrated, Bonamego required twice-a-day fluid IVs, along with a feeding tube.The restless nights became almost intolerable. He only slept sitting up, in short spells, and woke often to throw up. Paulette kept cool washcloths on her husband’s forehead and tried to stay awake with him. She felt guilty about falling asleep. The care seemed to make no difference. While the pain fogged Bonamego’s memory — he still doesn’t remember certain moments from that time — the objective remained clear.Steve Jessmore | Central Michigan UniversityIn his last three weeks of treatment, as it slowly cleansed Bonamego’s body, the CMU athletic boosters and alumni association pooled to pay for the Bonamegos to fly to Ann Arbor each morning.Two months after the diagnosis, at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, Bonamego rang the cancer-free bell. When he returned to campus, it was time to get ready for practice. Walking out of the tunnel in Kelly-Shorts Stadium, the band, faculty, cheerleaders, fans, CMU president George E. Ross and the whole football team ambushed Bonamego.On Aug. 21, Bonamego was cancer-free. Thirteen days later, on a Thursday night against Oklahoma State, he coached his first game as Central Michigan’s head man.While Bonamego lived a nightmare, he never strayed from his dream. Occasionally, Paulette offered Bonamego what she called a “hall pass,” to skip work that day to rest. She told him the other coaches knew what to do and the players would understand. But, to Bonamego, that wasn’t the point.Andy Mendes | Digital Design EditorIn his two months battling cancer, he never missed a practice or meeting. Part of his attendance was maintaining any sense of normalcy in his shaken-up life. Part of it was showing the players what he had always taught them about perseverance.Now, the mesh mask he wore during those blasts of radiation treatment sits in a closet at home. It is the shadow of the man cancer made him, the one that still follows him. It is a reminder of what he had to do to sustain his dream. Paulette finds it spooky.Sometimes, she finds the mask in the closet, staring back at her. She asks Bonamego if they can finally throw it away. His answer has never changed.“No,” he says. Comments
Related Articles The three C’s of digital customer experience within gaming July 6, 2020 Submit Share StumbleUpon Share Bold360 delivers an artificial intelligence (AI) based digital engagement solution designed to marry the “best of bots” with a company’s existing human support agents. We spoke to Bold360’s Head of Gaming Accounts Neel Davda about bringing “fast time to value” for customer service, how a propensity for messaging amongst the younger generation is a help to the gaming operators adopting the solution, and why he thinks a personal touch will always be necessary to deal with “emotive issues or complexity”.SBC: As a software solutions provider to some of the largest global gaming providers and the fast growing mid tier, Bold360 is not a newcomer to the industry. But just for people unaware of what it is you do, can you give a quick rundown of your services? ND: Bold360’s digital engagement solution brings the best of bots and live agents to your customers and employees when they need it most. From the first interaction with a prospect through ongoing customer support, Bold360 delivers rich, personalised experiences across digital channels. Leveraging the power of artificial intelligence (AI), Bold360 helps you engage more efficiently from the contact center, the front desk, or the field. And to help businesses drive greater ongoing value, our technology includes tools and insights needed to continuously optimise the customer experience. For example, real time trends into the customer queries which accelerates the ability to improve the customer experience by making the necessary changes in real time.SBC: You mention facilitating omni-channel customer engagement as a key USP for your business. First of all, why is this so important? ND: I would say actually our key USP is centered around working with businesses which are seeking fast time to value with an AI solution which complements and works with their human support agents. By marrying Bold360’s strong pedigree in digital engagement channels with our conversational AI technology, we are able to show significant results for deployments in which bots and live agents work together to provide seamless customer experiences. One component of providing this is being able to meet those customers where they want to communicate with your brand, and as a result requires we provide businesses the tools to be present across channels.SBC: And secondly, what are the key differences you see with how customers engage from channel to channel? Perhaps these differences may also have unconsciously driven how agents have previously managed their time?ND: Customers will choose a specific channel based on complexity and urgency of the situation as well as the time they have to invest in the engagement. For example, synchronous channels like voice and chat are used for more immediate needs while asynchronous channels like email and messaging tools are used with the expectation that responses might not be immediate but can at the same time don’t require the customer to maintain continuous engagement.Additionally, we definitely see a propensity amongst the younger generation to communicate via chat and messaging rather than voice or email. This represents a benefit to the organisation as they have the ability to handle multiple conversations (a recommended three to four chats) at any one time improving SLAs and Agent KPIs. When you layer in AI capabilities like Bold360’s additional value is received as the AI handles more of those simple queries allowing your agents to handle more revenue generating or complex queries.SBC: Finding this ‘best of both worlds’ in terms of human intervention vs automated tech is a key talking point across the industry for things such as odds compiling, trading and even more recently with compliance tools; what are the potential impacts on cost, and what is a realistic reduction to make to the agent workforce? ND: What we see are common use cases that are prominent in the gaming industry around deposits, withdrawals, bonuses, promotions, sports betting, account verification and reset of password. Our flexible API architecture allows us to integrate into back end systems and allow automation; this offers deflection and lowers operational cost. We see this as an opportunity for live agents to improve their skills sets and handle more complexity which in turn improves retention rates and value to the organisation. We often see in gaming that the contact center is split between sales and support occasionally with a 50/50 split. If we are automating more contacts, a contact center could feasibly change this ratio to 60/40 in favour of sales improving revenue potential for our client.SBC: Do you think that an AI bot service is more attractive to a certain demographic? For example, is there more trust – and in turn use – from the younger player base? ND: We don’t believe it is a matter of trust or non trust it is about resolution. While poor Bot industry wide deployments of years ago did provide a bad stigma, perceptions have generally turned more favorable in recent years. Overall, if we can provide a better customer experience by answering a customer’s queries as efficiently and accurately as possible it will promote the propensity for all age groups to use it. Bold360 analyses the intent behind a customers’ query with over 93% levels of accuracy. This offers a superior experience for the customer where they can self service without the need to escalate to a live agent.SBC: Is a totally automated bot run service achievable, or even desirable, at some point in the future? ND: We see automation as a facilitator, an avenue to remove simplicity and frequently asked questions from an organisation. We then through a phased approach see an approach of personalisation and transactional capability that offers more and more deflection from 30% through to 50%. We think a personal touch is always necessary, whether it be for emotive issues or complexity. Ultimately it is about offering value to you as a partner but also an optimal customer experience so they game with you for longer.SBC: And finally, if you had to state one key positive business outcome you have brought about for a gaming client so far, what would it be? ND: It would be the 30/40/50 rule for deflection. Immediate returns from simple use case resolution which are tried and tested in the gaming industry, a next phase to offer a simple, direct path for resolution for the top six queries and an additional 10% from integration to allow a customer to self serve through a single user interface. The final piece in the puzzle is proactively reaching out to customers to enhance conversion and retention via chat.