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April 5, 2014

Florida alum has fond memories of win over UConn

CRIS BJELAJAC

SCHOOL: University of Florida

AGE: 47

CURRENT RESIDENCE: Westford

OCCUPATION: I am Software Program Manager for Genesys

YEAR GRADUATED: 1995

MAJOR: B.S. in telecommunications

WHY DID YOU ATTEND FLORIDA?: I had applications to several schools, and was filling them all out. At one point through that painful process I asked myself if I really wanted to go to any other school than Florida? I said no, and promptly tossed the rest of the applications in the garbage. I guess I’m pretty lucky Florida accepted me, huh? I had NO backup plan.

WHAT DID YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE THERE?: It was the total package from a college experience perspective. Great campus, great reputation, great athletics. We have Red Sox Nation up here, but Gator Nation extends even further beyond sports into personal and professional networks. I will always try to help out a fellow Gator in whatever they need.

DID YOU ATTEND BASKETBALL GAMES?: Yes, I did have season tickets, but not too many others did when I first got there in the ‘80s. In fact, we finally made our first NCAA tournament in 1989. But by 1994, when Lon Kruger led us to the Final Four, basketball fever really overtook Gainesville and the school. It was non-stop insanity that week.

A FAVORITE HOOP-RELATED MEMORY: When we beat UConn in 1994 to make it into the Final Four (Donyell Marshall blew two free throws sending it into overtime), the campus erupted. Everyone just ran out into the streets. However, there was no violence or anything like you see after some victories in other towns. Everyone was just walking around hugging each other in the streets. It was like a basketball love-in. I must have hugged more than 150 people that night.

WHY WOULD YOU RECOMMEND FLORIDA TO HIGH SCHOOLERS?: Of course! But I hear it is pretty difficult to get in nowadays, so you better have your grades up. I have a sinking feeling I would never qualify if I had to apply today!

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