President Hunter Rawling’s announcement that all Cornell athletic events would be canceled last weekend didn’t take the football team by surprise. In fact, the squad was among the many grieving for all victims including possibly two of their own. Legendary wide receiver — who was better known on the lacrosse field — Eamon McEneaney ’77 is among the casualties. Also the family of quarterback Mike Tanner ’76 hasn’t abandoned hope that he is still alive.
“I think that we made the right decision,” head coach Tim Pendergast said, obviously shaken by the recent tragedies.
“Personally for me I had a very difficult time focusing on preparation. We lost Eamon McEneaney; we’re not giving up hope on Mike Tanner. They’re family members. We potentially lost two family members,” he lamented.
There is solidarity among the gridders when it comes to the university’s decision from last Thursday morning, even though they had been anticipating Sept. 15th’s meeting with Bucknell for over three weeks.
“I think it put things in perspective, sometimes when you’re out here nonstop you think that football is life,” junior linebacker Corey Ziskind explained. “But when something like that happens you realize that there’s way more to life than college football, so I think it was the right decision, although it’s disappointing not playing. But I was definitely the right decision.”
In fact most of the team was upset when the Bucknell game had been canceled, partly because Pendergast had instructed the team to concentrate only on beating the Bison since Sept. 7th.
“The hard part was that we’ve been in camp. We’ve been here since August 19th. We’ve been practicing since the 21st of August. It’s hard knowing that the preparation on the team has been for Bucknell,” Pendergast said.
The practices have also provided therapy and an outlet from the past week and a half’s events.
“When you’re on the field its the only time it’s not on your mind,” senior quarterback Ricky Rahne confessed.
“One of the great things about the games of football is you can’t have anything else on your mind. You get to totally block everything else out,” he continued.
“Coach always says ‘forget about schoolwork, forget about the girls, forget about everything else going on in the world. It’s your time to get things done,” contributed senior tailback Evan Simmons.
As the team turns to its next challenge at the Yale Bowl this Saturday, many are finding positives in the new season opener. Unlike last year, the men will begin their campaign against a conference team thereby attaining an immediate grasp of the Red’s ability against another institution with high academic standards and devoid of athletic scholarships. Patriot League teams such as Bucknell give scholarships.
“I’m a proponent of opening up against an Ivy League opponent,” Pendergast said. “To me I want to find out immediately what we’re made of. I want to open to up against someone who we a more similar to.”
There is no doubt that although the Red is mourning with the rest of the nation, it wants to follow President Bush’s advice and return to a state of normalcy. And that venture begins in New Haven.
“Everyone’s ready for this game this weekend,” Simmons declared. “Guys were disappointed about not playing last weekend.
“We’re going to come out that much harder. It’s a good opening game for us and a good test for us.”
Archived article by Amanda Angel