August 19, 2012

RITTER | Advice For a Freshman Sports Fan

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To the Class of 2016 —

Congratulations on your acceptance to Cornell! The next four years on East Hill will be a challenge. You might feel stressed, sleep deprived or even overwhelmed by everything that is happening on campus, but don’t spend too much time worrying about that. The next eight semesters will undoubtedly be filled with irreplaceable memories that (hopefully) will leave you with one of the most rewarding experiences in your life.

With my senior year just weeks away, I’ve been reflecting back on my Cornell experience. So, I would like to take the opportunity to offer some advice to you, the newest class of Cornellians. Like a wise older sister, I want to share my philosophy about how to make the most of your experience at Cornell — your sporting experience, that is.

Here it is: Go. Go to as many different games  as you possibly can — which, if you get all your work done and play your cards correctly, should be just about all of them.

One of the many great opportunities that Cornell has to offer is its diverse sporting experience. Have you ever been courtside for a basketball game? Or sat in the front row up against the Plexiglass at a hockey game? How about sat matside for a wrestling match? Even if you don’t know much about those sports or they aren’t your favorites, being that close to all of the action can be quite the experience.

The players representing Cornell on the court today could be the future of the NFL, NHL, MLL and NBA. Just think, Jeremy Lin got his start playing basketball for that school in Cambridge — I forget its name. Also, unless you become ridiculously rich, some of these seats may be the best you can afford and lucky for you, they will be virtually free — especially if you get the Big Red Sports Pass. I recommend it.

To those of you reading this that will inevitably shut yourselves up in your dorm rooms on a Friday night because you have too much homework, hear me out. Grades are important. I won’t disagree with you on that. But, I can’t think of anyone who has flunked out  because he spent a few hours in Lynah Rink watching a hockey game or in Newman Arena cheering on the basketball team.

What we learn in our classrooms will be important later in life, but I believe to make the most of your Cornell education, you have to take your nose out of the books sometimes.

The advice I want to  offer to those of you who would rather hit the books than pack the stands is this: sometimes the most important things that are worth knowing can’t be taught in a classroom. Through all of my sporting experiences at Cornell, I have learned some great life lessons. Here are a few I would like to share with you. So grab a pencil, you might be quizzed.

See Red, Be Red

When I was a freshman, my friends and I decided to buy hockey tickets and go to a game as a group. I can’t remember who Cornell played against or what the final score was, but I do remember that we had fun. One of my best friends and I even came up with the brilliant idea to paint “Go CU!” on our stomachs in red paint. We wanted to show our school spirit, but what we failed to consider was how cold Lynah would be in just a t-shirt. Suffice to say, we never got to flash our body paint, but the feeling of excitement and Cornell pride was still there. You could say we got an ‘A’ for effort.

For some of you upcoming fans, going to the games just won’t be enough. Some of you might want to do more. For those of you super fans, show up. Show up with red paint on your stomachs. Show up with home-made posters in your hands. And, most importantly, show up with giant smiles on your faces. Because, at the end of the day, it isn’t about winning or losing  — going to all of these different sporting events is about supporting our classmates on the field and having fun with our friends in the stands.

Be Open to New Experiences

Just because you don’t know much about a certain sport or you think that you won’t like it, don’t write it off so easily. You might be surprised by how much fun you have.

I didn’t know much about wrestling before coming to Cornell, but I thought that it would be fun to at least check it out. I convinced my best friend to walk all the way to Friendman Wrestling Center with me and we were surprised by what we saw. Sitting just feet away from the mat, I was holding my breath during the matches. I may not have known any of the technical terms at the time, but what I did take away from the day was that each wrestler that walked onto the mat was putting every ounce of effort he could muster into fighting for the win.

Seeing that level of motivation and pure persistence was inspiring. Now if I can just apply that level of mental focus that those wrestlers had to my school work, I should be part of the 400 Club in no time. The determination on the field can carry into the classroom. Remember that.

To Thee Alma Mater

Know your school. Know your school’s traditions. Every school has different traditions when it comes to sports, so make sure that you know ours.

One of the first things you need to learn when you come to campus is the Alma Mater. While you are at Cornell it will be your anthem. The Pep Band plays it during every game and Cornellians old and young stand and sing together. We take pride in what goes on far above Cayuga’s waters

Other traditions you’ll (hopefully) witness include the entire freshman class rushing the football field during Homecoming, the Pep Band taunting visiting schools’ bands and maybe a fish or two being thrown onto the ice during the Cornell-Harvard hockey game.

So, that’s all I’ve got you. Go to the games. Cheer for Cornell. Know the Alma Mater. And, maybe even write for the Sports Section. Ball is in your court.

Original Author: Lauren Ritter