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  • Angie Sessa

Doing It As a Team

Photography by Jason Wu

At every level of athletic competition, teams participate in bonding, traditions, and rituals to create a community among their sports team. Not only can these practices build a greater sense of community, but it creates a family-like atmosphere that new players are excited to take part in.

Ashley Messier, sophomore defenseman and captain of the women’s ice hockey team, views team bonding as an opportunity to create high quality relationships and fun memories with her teammates. One of her favorite experiences while playing hockey at Cornell is a camping trip she took with her teammates as a form of team bonding. She shares that she cherishes the time with her teammates and that creating strong connections with people she competes with is something meaningful and beneficial to her play and performance.

Similarly, Brandom Morales, a senior midfielder and star of the men’s soccer team, enjoys the traditions spent off the field, as a time to relieve the pressure of being a Division I athlete. Following every game or practice, he has dinner with his teammates as a time to bond and connect over the joys and hardships they face. He notes that as a senior, it is much more valuable to him to have meaningful conversations with his teammates about their future careers and life ambitions, creating a special bond among the players that reaches far beyond soccer itself.

Photography by Amanda Burkart

Nicole Loy, freshman thrower on Cornell’s track and field team, said that the track and field traditions are something she looks forward to the most. The track and field competitions are not held until December, so while preparing during the first few months, freshmen enthusiastically look forward to partaking in their first meet. For Loy, the tradition she is most looking forward to is all of the throwers dying their hair red to show Cornell spirit before the Heptagonal Championship, which is a big meet that hosts all of the Ivy League teams.

There are also many practices put in place by teams to create excitement for traveling, or to celebrate big wins among the team. For example, the annual Red and White Hockey Scrimmage is a time where both the men’s and women’s hockey teams will participate in regular play, special teams, and a highly-anticipated shootout. This is all used not only to create a greater sense of Cornell spirit, but also to allow fans to get a closer look into the action and excitement that hockey brings at Lynah Rink.

Several women’s teams continue to celebrate traditions that are both new and old. The women’s basketball team will at times participate in a photoshoot in the opposing campus’ courts, the water polo team will dunk their seniors (and team) into a water trough to celebrate the end of each season, and the women's tennis team began a new tradition in 2017, posing with Touchdown after becoming Ivy League champions. These are just some examples of how Cornell sports teams use traditions and rituals to build a sense of support and community among their athletes.

Our athletes have also mentioned how much enthusiasm builds prior to rivalry competitions. What’s especially important about these competitions is that it extends the team spirit to the fans and communities of Cornell’s athletics.

Just about every team can think of another school that it feels brings more excitement to its competitions every season. Cornell’s overall main example of this is the long-awaited and historical Harvard v. Cornell men’s hockey game. Since 1970, it has become a Cornell tradition to welcome Harvard’s skaters to the ice with a wave of fish thrown onto the ice along with crumpling newspapers while their lineup is announced. There are a number of chants, taunts, and traditions carried out at their designated times during the games, allowing the fans to share the excitement of the athletes and display the strength of our community and support for Big Red sports.

With every team comes many traditions, and it is clear just how strong the bonds between the athletes are when we watch them compete for the Big Red.


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