There’s a place on Dryden in Collegetown where if you go on a Friday or a Saturday night you’re likely to see a few (and oftentimes many) of the players on the field hockey team slurping milkshakes. It’s called Café Pacific. The place is lauded by the players for the quality of its milkshakes, and noted for the variety of flavors that it offers. Not only can you get the traditional chocolate, vanilla or strawberry, but you can also get chocolate peanut-butter, chocolate chip cookie dough or the grasshopper — a variation on mint chocolate chip and favorite of junior goalkeeper Alex Botte.“At this point the owners have gotten to know us, and always ask us how we’re doing when we come in for milkshakes,” said senior midfielder and co-captain Kate Thompson. “It’s been a tradition since before I arrived at Cornell. The night before a game, whether we’re away or home, we always go out as a team for milkshakes.”Nobody seems to know how the tradition originated. The seniors on the team remember going for milkshakes with the team as freshmen and recounted that the seniors at that time had been going for milkshakes the night before games since they were freshmen, so it’s clear that this Cornell field hockey tradition goes back quite a while.While going to Café Pacific when at home has become routine, finding a place on the road is more of an adventure.“When we’re away we’ll try to convince the coaches to stop somewhere after dinner to let us get milkshakes. Or we’ll walk, or run somewhere to get them!” said senior back and co-captain Sara Sanders.Botte echoed Sanders’ enthusiasm for finding a place to get milkshakes when on the road.“If we’re out on the road we’ll beg the coaches to pull up to an ice cream place or let us walk to an ice cream place after dinner,” she said.Milkshakes, however, are just one of the ways in which the players come together as a team to prepare for games. While having milkshakes the night before games is the perfect way to relax physically and mentally before games, pregame activities on gameday are all about building the intensity and getting hyped for the game. The pre-game locker room dance parties are essential for this. “Right before we go out, we just blast the music and everybody does their thing. Sometimes we have a line and we just go down the line and everybody does a dance move,” said freshman attacker Hannah Balleza.Apparently the intensity of these dance parties has become a barometer for how excited the team is for the game.“Whenever I come out coach always asks me how the dance party was and I feel like she thinks it’s a reflection of how much we’re pumped up for the game,” Botte said.In past years, carrying that intensity onto the field meant running out of a tunnel at Schoellkopf from the locker room and high-fiving teammates during introductions. However, the move to Marsha Dodson and a change in procedures by the Ivy League has made it so that now the players line up “international style” before the stands and then are introduced. Instead of waving to the crowd when their names were called, the players came up with a unique way to maintain the old pre-game introduction intensity. When a player’s name is called, she and the teammate standing to her right will jump up and high-five each other with both hands.The team will also always have a special chant, oftentimes with an accompanying gesture, for the opposing team, with the first letter of the chant being the same as the first letter of the opponent’s name, so for example ‘Hold on Harvard!’ or ‘Yield Yale!’ Botte, who was noted by several teammates as being the most creative when coming up with these, excitedly talked about coming up with ‘Vanish Virginia!’ to which senior attacker Catie De Stio added a funny gesture reminiscent of something you might see in a Harry Potter movie.These practices are not only used to get ready for games, but also to help unite the players create a strong team chemistry. Balleza acknowledged that given their busy academic schedules and the fact that they are quite spread out throughout campus, teammates don’t get to see each other that often outside of practice and games, so pre-game milkshakes are a great way to get the team together. She said that it affords an opportunity for them to just sit down, take it easy and talk to each other. Besides the traditional pre-game milkshakes, the team tries to do a few other fun things throughout the season.“Just recently we did a team run and we carved pumpkins afterward. … Our coaches bought us pumpkins and after our team run we just hung out and carved pumpkins together,” Balleza said.She also mentioned that the freshmen on the team have taken to getting together to hang out at the townhouses on Sundays to cook “family dinners.” Might this be the start of another tradition?
Original Author: Brian Bencomo