September 26, 2006

Cornell Veteran Gives His Sports Short List

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For over three years, I’ve written articles for the sports section of the Cornell Daily Sun. Having authored close to 150 articles and assuming 90 minutes of work at least on each one — that’s 225 hours of work voluntarily covering Cornell sports.

People usually ask me why I do it. Before I answer this, let me first give you some background information.

First off, you have to understand that as a Sun sportswriter, I’ve had the chance to cover almost every “low-profile” Cornell sport out there. While the editors take care of football or men’s hockey, I’ve had the opportunity to cover women’s squash and sprint football.

I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m complaining about it, however. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. While I would pay attention to Cornell’s high-profile teams whether reporting on them or not, I’ve met some incredible athletes and watched many memorable games that I, otherwise, never would have known about. And its those experiences that make writing sports at Cornell worthwhile.

Thus, I’d like to present to you my own appendix to the list of things everyone has to do before they gradu ate. This short list is about the teams and athletes that are “off the beaten path” of Cornell athletics, but that deserve your attention.

1. Go to a Cornell volleyball game. As you watch these women fearlessly throw themselves across the court to pick up a dig or go up for a block, it’s almost impossible not to admire the team for its courageous play. Also, pay particular attention to senior Joanna Weiss. When I first saw her take a set placed just above the net and slam it down on her opponents, my gut reaction was to curse in awe. Immediately after, I vowed never to piss her off enough to slap me because I’m pretty sure it would be lethal.

2. Wander into a sprint football game at Schoellkopf and be amazed by how exciting football can be without the 300-pound lineman you see on TV each weekend. Playing a quicker, more strategic brand of football than you’re used to watching, the Red has steadily improved over the past couple years. And though the team rarely draws more than a couple hundred fans to home games, the Red has produced several memorable moments over the past couple years. Keep an eye out for three-time All-CSFL running back Michael Fullowan as he tramples over opposing defenses.

3. Take a ride over to the Oxley Equestrian Center to watch a men’s or women’s polo match. Though receiving little publicity on campus, Cornell has one of the most dominant polo programs in the country. Reaching at least the national semi-finals over the past three years, both the men’s and women’s teams have also collected a national title in that same span. Even without their dominance, however, the trip to a polo match is worth it just to marvel at how the players can control a horse and mallet at the same time with such apparent ease. Also, take the opportunity to meet the teams’ head coach David Eldredge ’81. The Don Wooden of collegiate polo, his teams have won 11 national titles, including a streak of five-straight championships for his women’s team from 2000 to 2004.

4. Though their male counterparts are better known, make sure to get to a women’s lacrosse game this year. Finishing the 2006 season ranked No. 10 in the country, the Red won a share of its first-ever Ivy League Crown while also making its third NCAA tournament appearance. The squad should only continue to get better with its top-4 scorers all returning from a year ago. This group includes senior Margaux Viola, a Tewaaraton trophy candidate in 2005, and junior Courtney Farrell, who was recently added to the U.S. national developmental squad. Also, take the chance to admire head coach Jenny Graap ’86. Since returning to her alma mater to coach in ’97, she has done nothing short of rebuilding the program into national force en route to earning two national Coach of the Year awards in the past five years.

So, there’s my quick list of things you have to do, but, please, let me emphasize that this is the short list. In addition to those listed above, there are several other Cornell athletes and teams that deserve your support.

I know what you’re thinking right now — Cornell is not Ohio State or Texas. We don’t have the caliber athletes or atmosphere to incite a loyal following of Big Red sports. You might also say that I may be a little too obsessed with Cornell athletics for my own good. I’ll admit this second part may be true, considering I own the Big Red Pep Band CD and listen to it to pump myself up before my intramural games.

But my point is this — the next Saturday afternoon that you spend watching college football or basketball on TV, don’t complain about the lack of school spirit or fanaticism at Cornell. I say this because I’ve heard those grumbles almost every weekend, and it pisses me off every time.

Instead of complaining, turn off the TV and go to a Cornell sporting event. For one thing, there certainly isn’t any lack of quality teams and athletes to support, as I hope the list above helped point out. In fact, Cornell has boasted at least one national champion over the past three years.

Second, if you feel like we lack that “sports environment” that you see on TV each weekend, the student body has no one to blame for that fact beside itself. If you like sports, go check out a home game for a Cornell team you’ve never seen in action. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Scott Reich is a Sun Staff Writer. Scotty Doesn’t Know will appear every other Tuesday this semester.