To all the freshmen reading this column, that is one of the questions you will be asked the most during your first year in Ithaca. And while I have heard many different answers — from “because Harvard rejected me” to “because I like being in the middle of nowhere” — I’m pretty sure that most of you picked Cornell since it offers great academic programs that will prepare you for the “real world” out there. However, when you signed that contract that was due on the first day of May, you also picked something else. You chose to become part of the Big Red family. You may be wondering to yourself right now, “is that a good thing?” Well, let me answer you in the words of Sun Sports Editor Alex Kuczynski-Brown, “Cornell’s Athletics Department is legit.” Just like with academics, Cornell sports teams are good stuff. The University has a first-class Athletics Department with many awards and titles that numerous universities in the nation would love to have — and believe me, this is not easy to achieve when you play under the recruiting rules of the Ivy League.
We are a two-time NCAA national champion in men’s ice hockey, which, if you don’t know already, is our marquee sport. Our 1970 men’s team is, to this date, the only team in Division I history to finish with an unbeaten, untied season (29-0-0 record). We are currently the defending ECAC champions and one of our players (Ben Scrivens ’10) finished as one of the top contenders for the Hobey Baker award –– given to the nation’s most valuable collegiate hockey player. On the women’s side, our team had an unprecedented season this past academic year. The Red won the Ivy League and ECAC titles, and felt just short from clinching its first-ever national championship after falling, 3-2, in an epic three-overtime game against Minnesota-Duluth. We also took some individual honors, as head coach Doug Derraugh was named the 2010 Division I Women’s Hockey Coach of the Year.
Cornell is also a powerhouse in the sport of men’s lacrosse. The Red is a three-time national champion, and the combined record for those three championship seasons was 42 wins and just a single loss. Cornell has also secured at least a share of the Ivy League title in seven of the last eight years –– and we certainly have the talent to keep the streak alive. We made it all the way to the final in 2009 (where we allowed a last-second tying goal and eventually lost in overtime against Syracuse), and we were not too far last season, as we made it to the Final Four. Considering what happened last semester, I’m also pretty sure most of you have heard of our men’s basketball program –– which, according to some people in the Daily Sun’s sports department, is threatening ice hockey’s position as Cornell’s most beloved sport. We are currently the three-time defending Ivy League champions, and this past season we made it to the Sweet Sixteen (which is a great accomplishment, considering that most of the teams participating in the big dance have juicy scholarships to offer, and they don’t require their athletes to know how to read). Although we did not play in the final, the team earned some individual accolades as Ryan Wittman ’10 was named an AP All-American and former head coach Steve Donahue earned the 2010 Clair Bee Coach of the Year Award.
Although I would like to keep writing about all of our other teams and their respective accomplishments, this column is too short for that. Now, I want to talk about what it feels like to be a member of the Big Red’s fan base. I remember like it was yesterday, the words dictated in my Intro to Political Philosophy class by legendary professor Isaac Kramnick (seriously, take one of his courses, it should be a requirement in the Sun’s 161 things you should do before you graduate). I actually recall those words with more facility than the material discussed at class. That is because Mr. Kramnick’s words were wiser than those written by Marx, Machiavelli or Burke. He said that “Cornell is the only Ivy League school with a Big Ten heart.” Why? Well, freshmen, when you go to your first hockey game against Harvard at Lynah Rink, or to the next title-clinching basketball game, you will learn what Cornell Athletics is all about. So welcome to our family, enjoy your first year at Ithaca, and the next time someone asks you why you are here, you will answer, “because Harvard sucks!”