January 30, 2002

Show Me the Fish

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It was the most awful sight I had ever witnessed in my three years covering Cornell athletics. Calling it disappointing, would not do it justice. Painful, shocking is more like it. The moment remained frozen in my mind for days after, lingering no matter how hard I tried to forget it.

It happened right below the glass encased press box. Harvard centerman Brett Nowak gracefully slid the puck past Cornell’s stalwart netminder Matt Underhill. It wasn’t so much the red goal light that crushed me as I watched on helplessly. What haunted me most was the revolting site of the Crimson icers piling on top of one another in celebration.

Its been nearly three months since that fateful day in not so fair Cambridge, and now the day we have all been waiting for is finally here. Make no mistake; this is The Game. Harvard vs. Yale football — doesn’t compare. Duke vs. UNC basketball — that’s old news. Florida State vs. Miami football — eh, were it not for the conspicuous absence of fish might compare. Friday night at Lynah Skating Rink you will witness bar none the most incredible spectacular in all of college sports…

But before we are fully prepared for the big night though we should go over a few things–for our fans, players, rink staff and administration. Let’s begin with a brief orientation for our guests since six of them have never played within our friendly confines.

Dear Harvard Crimson Freshmen:

I know by now you’ve heard all sorts of wonderful stories from your esteemed captains and teammates about the Lynah Legend. Let’s just review the basics…When you walk into our arena, try not to be too shocked at our full stands. I know this may surprise you — they’re called fans and they cheer on our beloved team. Now, I know you folks in Cambridge don’t enjoy the luxury of playing in front of people, so this may take some getting used to. Our fans are actually loyal, unlike your supposed supporters who have deserted you over the years faster than your entire “dream-team”-Africana Studies department threatens resignation. Too bad that was your only “dream-team” on campus. In fact, the men and women in the Red and White in the stands — they are called a pep band. Now, this may be daunting compared to that raggedy assemblage of so-called musicians you have up at Bright, so again I just wish to provide fair warning. Be aware that our band comes equipped with enough hot air to inflate all your grades which should make you feel right at home. If you think they’re vocal during the pre-game warm-ups, just wait until the game starts. But I jump ahead.

I’m sure you’ve all heard about the famed fish. The hundreds of fish. Their aroma will permeate our arena. It will smell like garbage. I’m serious. Hold your nose. This is worse than anything that you’ve ever smelled from the kitchen of your New England Prep school.

To the beloved members of our men’s hockey team:

You probably need no reminder of this, but tomorrow when you don the carnelian and white, realize that you defend the honor of our school and that we trust in you to restore our pride — injured by the ignominious defeat in Cambridge last fall. You bear the torch of over a century of tradition-rich hockey, and this weekend’s contest is arguably the biggest of the season and the first famed Harvard game for a new crop of freshmen — make it the best experience of their first year on the Hill. I don’t know any words that could possibly motivate you more than the reminder of the Harvard bench clearing last November evening. You may not realize this, but you bring more pride and community spirit to our campus than anything else.

Let’s see the best you have to offer Friday night. Senior phenom goalie Matt Underhill remembers Nov. 16 perhaps better than any. Suffice it to say, Mr. Underhill — who has supplied us all with so many jaw-dropping moments – will save his best for defeating the hated Crimson one final time.

To our fans:

I have but two requests. Show up early. Please. None of that 6:55 stuff. It is no secret that your taunts and jeers register most during the warm-ups. So please, arrive early and be loud. Second, for the love of god, bring fish. Lots of fish and don’t forget duct tape. Be creative. You get the idea. You should regard your beloved guppy as just as necessary for admission as your ticket. Don’t chicken out either — throw them at those ruffians from Cambridge. Realize from the moment you walk into the stench-filled sanctuary that is Lynah that you are part of a privileged few who will enjoy the best college athletics has to offer.

Archived article by Gary Schueller