Four short years ago — somehow an eternity — the Class of 2007 arrived at Cornell.
We were the best at our high schools — valedictorians, class presidents, editors-in-chief. Yet few of us knew what we wanted at college. For many, the only goals we knew for a while were getting to the best keg parties.
Yet one of us was not lost. From the time he first set foot on campus, one of us knew precisely why he came to Cornell. James McManamon, Class of ’07, wanted to be captain of the football team.
It was not such a reach. Jaime had been all-everything at St. Edward High School in Cleveland — and, yes, he was the team captain.
Jamie was huge. In his first season, he joined the Big Red Power Wall of Honor as the strongest player in his recruiting class. As a freshman lineman, he routinely challenged Kevin Boothe — now with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders — for an edge in the trenches.
“Everyone talks about Jaime being the strongest guy in our class,” said classmate and fellow lineman Jonathan Lucas. “And he really was. As a freshman, he was tossing around seniors. I remember thinking ‘Wow, I can’t wait to be on the field with him.’”
A jokester off the field with a fiery passion on it, Jaime worked just as hard making people laugh as he did bashing bodies on the line. He was a natural leader, and it was only a matter of time before he realized his goal of becoming team captain.
“Jaime always had a good attitude,” said teammate Jeff Dicks. “He brought up the whole team when he was out there — he made everyone have more fun.”
Jaime was always a positive example to his teammates and friends.
“Everyone liked him,” remembered senior Ryan Kiscadden. “He had a great personality and was very caring.”
Late at night, while others were getting ready to go out, Jaime would be in his room, talking to his family back in Ohio about the adjustment to life as a student athlete.
He loved his family. On May 13, 2004, Jaime and his mom were driving from Ithaca to Westlake, Ohio, for his little sister’s First Communion.
Jaime was driving as his 2000 Chevy Suburban spun out, left the road and rolled over several times. His mom broke her leg. Jamie, crushed against the steering wheel, was not so lucky. Airlifted to an Erie hospital, he died hours later.
After the death, new head football coach Jim Knowles ’87 looked for the right way to honor Jaime. He decided to keep Jaime’s dream alive — and find a way to make him the captain of the Cornell football team.
“He always had said as a freshman that his one goal was to be team captain,” Knowles said. “We will be remembering him every game.”
For the past two seasons, every player on the Red has worn the number “57” on their helmets to honor Jamie. When they beat Harvard and Penn last year, Kiscadden’s wristbands were marked “57.”
This season, in what would have been Jaime’s final season at Cornell, the team captains are Jonathan Lucas, Anthony Macaluso and — James McManamon.
The Class of 2007 gave their consent to this honor and moreover, each senior lineman will wear No. 57 for one game during the season.
“It will be a little bit emotional to wear his jersey,” said Dicks, who will be wearing No. 57 tomorrow in the season opener at Bucknell. “But it is an honor to represent him, and I will be playing for him.”
Jaime may have been killed, but he never died. He will be on the field with the Red for every down this year. Jamie will be part of every tackle and every touchdown. Jaime is the Cornell captain.
Kyle Sheahen is a Sun Senior Editor. The Ultimate Trip will appear every other Friday this semester.