Players await instructions as host Keith Hannon transitions between round one and two.

Players await instructions as host Keith Hannon transitions between round one and two.

October 12, 2020

Homecoming Sports Adapt for COVID-19

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Sports have always been the cornerstone of homecoming and despite the pandemic, sports still took centerstage this past homecoming weekend.

Friday night kicked off homecoming with a Big Red Q&A quiz game called “Battle of the Brains”.

Keith Hannon, associate director of athletic alumni affairs and development, was the “game show” host.

The contestants, in classic game show style, were divided into two groups by the homecoming planners. One team consisted of Cornell Athletics alumni, including women’s basketball’s Lauren Benson Ford ’10, baseball and football’s Nathan Ford ’09, women’s lacrosse’s Carrie Giancola Wabeleski ’02, softball’s Alyson Intihar ’10 and football’s Keith Ferguson ’03. The alumni chose Big Old Bears for their team name.

Representing the current student-athlete team, dubbed the Bartel’s Brainiacs, were men’s hockey’s Matthew Galadja ’21, women’s basketball’s Halley Miklos ’21, football’s JT Baker ’21, football’s Kenan Clarke ’21, women’s sailing’s Pia Coruja ’21 and men’s soccer’s Emeka Enel.

The teams competed through six rounds where they had to come up with the top answers to questions like “Name your favorite pre-game tradition” and “Name your least favorite conditioning exercise.”

Alumna Lauren Benson Ford ’10 helped the Big Old Bears get off to an early lead with high scoring answers during the first two rounds. Lauren and her husband Nathan Ford ’09, joined the virtual game show all the way from Japan.

During her time at Cornell, Lauren was a standout women’s basketball point guard, setting all-time leader records in career assists, games played, minutes played and games started.

“Battle of the Brains was so much fun,” Lauren said. “It really took me back to my college days where I had to envision being on campus and getting ready for games to answer some of the questions.”

However, as the night went on, the younger Cornellians came back strong and had a sizable lead going into the speed round. During that final round, the Brainiacs chose Coruja to represent their team.

Coruja was quick with the answer to “What sport was most recently added to varsity at Cornell?” since she is a member of the sailing team, Cornell’s newest varsity sport.

“I thought it was a great event,” Coruja said. “I live with the senior girls from my team and I could hear them cheering for me as they watched the live stream downstairs.”

At the end of the evening Mr. Hannon commented that the planning team is discussing options for continuing this event and challenging other universities in a “Battle of the Brains”. Coruja said that she enjoyed the event, and would be interested in participating in something similar again.

Sports were highlighted during homecoming by not only this Friday’s “Battle of the Brains” event, but also an event called, “Throwing Out the Playbook: Navigating Major Sports Through a Pandemic” as well as a virtual 5K.