After not taking the field since 2019, Cornell Sprint Football will return to competition this fall with the hope of improving on their 2019 record of 1-5 — when their sole win came in their opening matchup against Alderson Broaddus.
Since then, Coach Bob Gneo and the team have had to alter the manner in which they prepared for the upcoming season, by taking their preparation online..
“We meet as a team, once a week, zooming, and then we would break up into individual groups. For example I would work with quarterbacks and running backs twice a week — installing the playbook, talking about culture,” he said.
Gneo was able to bring in Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott, and multiple NFL linebackers, to speak with the team and keep them mentally sharp for the fall.
The team has ensured that their group remains tight-knit and committed, even if they have to be distant, according to Sophomore offensive lineman Andrew Song, who emphasized the importance of the team community..
“During the spring, the captains did a really great job of organizing informal spring practices,” Song said. “Obviously we socially distanced. It was outdoors, we had our masks on. But the captains did a great job of getting the team together however they could.”
Song also discussed the importance of accountability between the teammates over the summer once everyone left Ithaca.
“Over the summer, through group chats, we kept track of each other,” he said. “We had workout plans, we kept each other to the team standard, made sure everyone was working out, that we’re all in this together.”.
Gneo echoed the importance of the culture cultivated by both coaches and players in the offseason as a key driver to success during the season. The team implemented a leadership program that assigned veteran players to mentor new additions to the team.
“We consider everybody part of the family — as soon as you sign up, you’re part of the family,” Gneo said.
One of their most pivotal matchups on the schedule is their annual game against Penn. This year the Red will be on the road in Philadelphia on Oct. 8, looking to avenge their defeat from 2019. However, Gneo emphasized the importance of their opener, an away game against Mansfield University on September 18.
“The first game is going to be [big] because we haven’t played in so long. It’s always a great atmosphere at Mansfield. We play at night, they’ll have a parade, they’ll have a band, they’ll have cheerleaders, it’s a big deal when we play over there. So that’ll be a great night.”
The Red’s home opener is on October 1, when they take on Caldwell University at Schoellkopf Field.