November 22, 2005

Giving Thanks for the Cornell Sports Fan Experience

Print More

I’ve been on this sick endless quest to find the ultimate college sports experience. That being said, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that an Ivy sports experience is not synonymous with numerous die-hard fans and national titles. Duke has its Cameron Crazies, Notre Dame football has its pesky, dysmorphic leprechaun, and the California schools have their nice weather that makes for beautiful cheerleaders and an automatic tan at every outdoor event. Ithaca boasts rain and gray clouds.

Besides the athletes themselves, most students don’t attend the games for the sports experience. Most people don’t really try to look, but if they did, they’d see that Cornell sports have more than what is to offer at face value – all sports (besides men’s ice hockey) are free with a Cornell I.D. Despite the lack of national fanfare, if you search, there are diamonds and pearls hidden all over East Hill for the true sports fan. All you have to do is scavenge the gems and claim them as your own.

Most students here will have a passion for something, but I can’t say that I love talking about recluse woodpeckers and I don’t brag that Cornell is colonizing Mars. Sports are no different. Like many students, I initially did not give Cornell a chance when it came to athletics. It took me over a year to discover sports here, but if there is anything to be thankful for leading up to Thanksgiving, I’m glad that I found my little collegiate sports experience.

Sports fans can appreciate the history of Lynah and, even though the men’s hockey team has struggled early this season, the building remains packed, with the faithful standing strong from opening face off to the final horn. All the game day traditions are well established. What you don’t notice is that these experiences will last a lifetime.

My season tickets positioned me next to a couple of 60-year-old fans in section E – a.k.a. the Big Red party zone. If you haven’t heard a 60-year-old woman scream, “Hey Vicari, you suck!” at a Division I hockey player then you really haven’t had the ultimate college sports experience.

While hockey tickets are definitely something for which one might tolerate being trampled, there are other gems within the athletic department. Take, for instance, volleyball. The ladies are going dancing for the first time since 1993 after winning the Ivy League championship this season. We don’t know where they will play their first round yet, but one thing is for certain – they will show up in style, taking to heart the adage “the better you look, the better you play” as they are the only team in the Ivy League to sport the sleek long-sleeved jerseys. The ladies will look good while they dominate. Not only that, but former Olympian and Cornell head coach Deitre Collins should be featured by the Sun’s fashion columnists. She has not only out-coached every opposing Ivy League coach, but she’s also out-dressed them all, making Red volleyball look, well, very, very chic.

If you want to stick with spandex, then there is wrestling. The team is ranked ninth in the country and just got done putting on a clinic at this past weekend’s Body Bar Invitational. Even if you are a beginner to the sport, you know that getting your face shoved gratuitously into any kind of surface can’t be fun. But that it is beauty of it – it is so much fun to watch. And fortunately for us, Cornell always seems to be the one shoving the other guy’s nose straight into the mat.

There are many other sports. Field hockey, sprint football, men’s basketball – which should win the Ivy League this season. All you have to do is go out and find it and create your own experience. I can say this from experience. Only Lord knows how I got here in Ithaca. Cornell isn’t really anywhere close to home. I came from Oklahoma – a “football-is-religion” part of the country (think Varsity Blues but real life) where home games on Saturdays consisted of feasting on a sausage-on-a-stick, marching bands and spending four hours at the local university’s sold-out game with 85,000 of my closest friends. In other words, I’ve been having my college sports experience since I was 8.

I got here and the withdrawl set in. I tried the traditional first football game, with all the freshmen storming the field, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I missed out on hockey tickets that year. Sad as can be, I eventually resorted to watching wannabe athletes play a mutant form of jump volleyball outside on the rugby field next to the dorms. Things were not right but, fortunately for me, they are now.

Tim Kuhls is a Sun Staff Writer. That’s Kuhls, Baby will appear every other Tuesday this semester.

Archived article by Tim Kuhls