Teammates and opponents, teachers and mentors, family and friends, and many others touched by the tragic events of the Cornell men’s lacrosse team’s March 17 game, gathered last night in Sage Chapel for a memorial service to celebrate the life of George Boiardi ’04.
In addition to the Boiardi family and the entire men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, members of the Binghamton, Colgate, Ithaca College and Syracuse men’s and women’s lacrosse teams, and members of the Cornell football, men’s hockey, men’s basketball, wrestling, and field hockey teams also attended. President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77, Provost Biddy Martin, Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president for student and academic services, and many members of the athletic department staff were also present.
Nine of Boiardi’s Red teammates shared memories of their fallen captain in the 90 minute-long service.
“George led by example and made me realize our positions were not something to be taken lightly,” said defenseman David Coors ’04, who was vice president of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity while Boiardi was president. “If something was going to be done, it just wasn’t going to be done right, it was going to be done perfect.”
“He always thought of other people before himself, and he taught me to be a better person,” said midfielder Mike Riordan ’04, relating a story of Boiardi’s willingness to drive Riordan home to the Washington, D.C. area at the end of a semester, despite having little room in his car for baggage.
Other teammates discussed Boiardi’s determination and work ethic on the field. Boiardi spent weeks preparing for the 40-yard dash component of the strength training staff’s annual fitness testing. He was determined to run the fastest 40 in Cornell history. True to his work ethic, he did.
“He did everything he could to make himself better because he knew it would make the team better,” said attackman Sean Greenhalgh ’05.
“From the first day I got here, I looked up to George,” said midfielder Justin Redd ’05, a former high school opponent of Boiardi’s. “He was the strongest and fastest and did flips off the bridge into Beebe Lake.”
A poignant remembrance came from Ian Rosenberger ’04, Boiardi’s life-long friend. Rosenberger and Boiardi were first playmates at the age of 18 months. Their relationship evolved into one on the athletic fields and hockey rinks, despite the Rosenberger family’s move to New Hampshire when the friends were 10. Being reunited as members of the Cornell lacrosse team in the fall of 2000 was dreamlike, according to Rosenberger.
“One constant, unwavering aspect of our lives was our friendship,” he said.
After the evening began with an invocation by Rev. Kenneth Clarke, director of Cornell United Religious Work, Murphy greeted the gathering.
Murphy read portions of Boiardi’s admission application, noting his keen intellectual interests in topics such as history, philosophy and psychology — fields that “bring men together,” according to Boiardi’s essay.
“I doubt a better description [of Boiardi] than that he wrote as a high school senior could be offered,” Murphy said. “In those 22 years, he made such a difference, evidenced by this room full of folks.”
Prof. John Weiss, history, had served as Boiardi’s academic advisor for the past two years, and he spoke of Boiardi as a student.
“He’s the kind of student who makes you wonder if you’re earning your pay,” Weiss said. “He laid out a good plan of study.”
Weiss also recalled Boiardi’s answers to a midterm exam in a class that he taught. He explained that the grader commented that one of the answers lacked a conclusion, and asked whether Boiardi had run out of time.
“I suppose the older we get, we think more about how we’ll die,” Weiss said. “We think about the ways we can best leave our impact … George died doing something he loved — playing lacrosse — playing the sport with the team he loved. Did he run out of time? We all run out of time, George, but not all of us get to sign our name on life.”
Following Weiss’s comments and a performance of “On Eagle’s Wings” by Clayton McCarl ’06, Prof. Lloyd Elm, American Indian program, presented head coach Jeff Tambroni and captains Andrew Collins ’04, Tim DeBlois ’04 and Kyle Georgalas ’05 with a traditional wooden lacrosse stick entwined with four ribbons representing the healing powers of the game of lacrosse, according to Lakota tradition.
“It was part of a healing ceremony. You played lacrosse to entertain the spirits visiting a community,” Elm said. “George played the healing game in a very beautiful way.”
“There are very few people who pass through this world and make this place better, and George was one of them,” Collins said in his remembrance. “Last Sunday in Washington, I told George’s parents that I don’t feel sadness anymore. I feel lucky to have known him.”
Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor