The glaring spotlights of Schoellkopf Field were replaced by two candles and the dim glow of chandeliers, but the emotion and intensity of Cornell athletes remained overwhelming at the James McManamon ’07 memorial service held yesterday in Sage Chapel. In a touching affair attended by teammates, coaches, friends and family, McManamon’s legacy as both a player and a person was remembered.
“The whole purpose of this [memorial] is for people to bring light to a dark situation,” said head football coach Jim Knowles ’87. “It was great to see so many people support Jaime and his family.”
Prayers, memories and condolences were given in front of a near-capacity group of mourners that included members of the football team, lacrosse team, wrestling team, sprint football team, field hockey team and many other athletes.
Athletic director J. Andy Noel was also in attendance, as well as Susan H. Murphy ’73, vice president of student and academic services. Murphy also provided welcoming remarks at the beginning of the service.
“The turnout was great,” said teammate Jarin Jackson ’07. “I’m so glad so many people came out.”
A number of administrators offered comments on the various aspects of McManamon’s life at Cornell, including Donald R. Viands, associate dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Knowles, who coached the lineman last spring, and assistant track coach Mark J. Bilyk also delivered eulogies describing their relationships with McManamon. McManamon was a double varsity athlete in both football and track (shot put) during his freshman year.
The most emotional moments of the service came in the form of personal anecdotes and stories from McManamon’s friends and teammates. They described a person with an innate gift for making others laugh and always wore a smile regardless of the circumstances.
“Jaime was an inspiration to us all,” teammate Jeff Dicks ’07 said in a speech. “The memories we shared together I will never forget.”
Friends painted a picture of McManamon as a loyal family member, a hard-working athlete and a perfect gentleman — not to mention a witty jokester. “Jaime could bring levity to any situation,” Jackson said. “That was his gift.”
In perhaps the most touching moment of the evening, McManamon’s father, Jim McManamon, took the podium towards the end of the service beset by tears. “Jaime loved Cornell,” said the elder McManamon. “He loved Cornell football. Go Big Red.”
After closing words by the Rev. Kenneth I. Clarke, Sr., the somber notes of “Amazing Grace” reverberated through the chapel during the memorial’s closing bagpipe postlude. A mixture of smiles and tears characterized the mourning multitude as some relived cheerful memories of McManamon and others came to terms with the loss.
“I’m amazed by the quality of people we have at Cornell,” Knowles said. “Jaime represented everything that was good about sports at this University.”
Members of Sigma Nu fraternity, of which McManamon was a brother, described the process of moving on in a house besieged by grief. The fraternity has dedicated a room in the house to McManamon.
“It’s easier to lean on 40 of your best friends than just yourself,” said Brian Butler ’05, a brother of Sigma Nu. “Everyone in the house really came together.”
The football team is also honoring McManamon in a number of ways this season, including wearing McManamon’s number, 57, on the helmet of every player, and devoting the present season to the memory of McManamon.
“We play for Jaime now,” said place-kicker Trevor MacMeekin ’05. “He is right there by our side on the field.”
Archived article by Kyle Sheahen
Sun Assistant Sports Editor