Hello fellow Purdue diehards and readers! I am Ryan Bonaparte, one of the new Hammer and Rails writers on SB Nation. I am quite excited to be here, and I would like to introduce myself to you and share a bit of my story as a Boilermaker and beyond into this role.
When I was little, I embarked on the incredible journey to move from the Chicago suburbs to Northwest Indiana. Having survived such a grueling move, I grew up in Crown Point, attending Crown Point High School. If you look up Sasha Stefanovic’s buzzer-beating shot against Valparaiso in sectionals, you will find me in the student section painted red as the Kool Aid Man.
I came to Purdue in the Fall of 2016, so I did get to see a third of the Darrell Hazell victories as a student. During my 5 years at Purdue (switching majors adds up), there were some unbelievable moments. I was fortunate enough to sit in the front row of the Tyler Trent game, staring down the goal line that Zico, Knox, Moore, and Bailey all scored across. I was chosen to participate in a disastrous eating contest during halftime against Wisconsin. Not once in my time at Purdue did the men’s basketball team lose to IU and I was able to see two Big Ten Champion teams and an incredible run to the Elite 8. In the Spring of 2021, I graduated from Purdue with a degree in engineering, but I definitely was hooked on Purdue sports.
My first job out of college was at an engineering firm through Caterpillar in Lafayette, so I was able to stick around and go to games with friends still in school and those games delivered. From the MSU and Iowa wins to the volleyball team looking unstoppable to the first #1 ranking in men’s basketball history, it was a hell of a ride. I don’t think there was a more exciting football game I have seen than the Music City Bowl win over Tennessee (still their most recent loss). As a whole, my time in West Lafayette was during a renaissance of sorts for Purdue athletics, which seems determined to keep the momentum going under Mike Bobinski.
This past year has marked the biggest change of my life. I transferred jobs to a John Deere facility outside of Raleigh and for the first time, I am now living outside of the 1-hour radius circle in northwest Indiana. So far, I have managed to enjoy Purdue sports from afar, but I will definitely need to come back home every now and again to keep getting the full experience. But for now, I lie as a black and gold heart in the land of Duke, UNC, and NC State (basketball season should at least be interesting).
Purdue holds a special place in my heart. At Purdue, I fell in love with my girlfriend of 3 years while she was in the All-American Marching Band and I cheered one section over. I have met lifelong friends at Purdue. I enjoyed my first bar run at Purdue. I have nearly died at Purdue. I have bled Purdue old gold and black and will do so for the rest of my life. Boilermaker faithful, I look forward to sharing my Purdue ideas and opinions with you, and I hope you enjoy reading them. Boiler Up!