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  • Angie Sessa

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Student-athletes who represent the Big Red earn the opportunity to create meaningful and unique relationships with their fellow students as they compete on the ice, in the water, on the track, or in the field. In both individual and team sports, athletes create high quality bonds through the hours spent training, studying, and practicing with one another. Though the dynamic of dependency and closeness of a team roster varies with each sport, the mutual passion that athletes have for their sport facilitates intricate, deep friendships within the team.

Hockey is a sport that is dependent on communication. Two of Cornell’s club ice hockey players note how knowledgeable their teammates are when it comes to understanding each other. Sohini Singh, a freshman forward for the women’s club hockey team, recognizes that while her friends understand and appreciate her personality and interests very well, the connections she has with her teammates on the ice are far more nuanced and developed. They are able to see more than her external qualities; they have an understanding of how to assess her motivations and approach to life.

“They see the way I think, and my upperclassmen have a sense of what makes me tick while skating on the ice,” Singh said. “They see what makes me angry in a game, they know how to motivate me, and they make me learn more as well.”

Sophomore goalie Matthew Small from the men’s club team attributes all of these reasons to the close relationship he has with his teammates as well. He shares that his love for playing is amplified by the shared vision he has with the team. Having the opportunity to be “with a number of friends at a great school still playing a competitive brand of hockey” makes him much more appreciative of his experiences with the team.

While these deep understandings help to improve team performance, they are not unique to hockey. As a team travels and practices together, each teammate gradually reveals more and more about themselves. Whether it be during an overnight trip or minutes spent in the locker room together, athletes get to learn of their teammates’ fun hobbies, tease them for their music tastes, and rave over their favorite Ithaca eateries. This camaraderie only deepens the connection athletes have not just as teammates but also as friends.

Alina Draa, a freshman dancer for the Big Red, shares that her bond with her teammates derives from the mutual commitment and passion each dancer has for the team. “Our dancers come from many different walks of life, but we are all brought together by our love for the team and dance,” said Draa.

For Nicole Loy, a freshman thrower on the Track and Field team, her closest bonds are created in the weight room, where she has spent hours training and practicing with her teammates. Although track and field athlete performances are strictly individual, she shares a common goal with her teammates: beat their performance from the last meet. Events such as the Heptagonal Championships also bring her closer to her teammates as well, especially the other freshmen.

“As we all hope to qualify for the meet, I recognize an underlying similarity among the team, and we are also brought closer together through our traditions. For Heps, all of us throwers will be dying our hair red,” remarked Loy.

The shared passion and dedication provided by each member of a team, both for individual and team sports, binds athletes together into a close-knit community that not only furthers their athletic performance, but also provides them the support and friendships that help to create valuable experiences for Cornell athletes. Teamwork for them is more than just a display of technical chemistry and communication: it is the embodiment of the hours of conversations and laughter, lifts and practices, and grit and determination that they share with each other.


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