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Love of the Game

  David Lee Hartlage  

Besides her degree in secondary education and English, Emily Cline ’01 left Cornell with a trophy case full of athletic honors, including first team all-conference in basketball, second team all-conference in softball, Senior Female Athlete of the Year, and two letters in both basketball and softball.

“My senior year at Cornell was really a special experience. We had a record-breaking season and the whole mood on campus seemed to change. Everywhere I walked, people would say, ‘Good game last night,’ and everyone was interested in women’s basketball,” she says.

Now a graduate assistant for women’s basketball at Division II Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pa., she knows the purity of sport is hindered by the pressure on scholarship players to devote hours to practice and on coaches to post winning seasons or lose their jobs.

“A lot of athletes at the Division II level are playing just because they’re getting scholarship money. In Division III, everyone plays for the love of the game. You know that all of your teammates are playing for the right reasons,” she says.

They play solely for a chance to reach their potential, for an education outside the classroom, for the sense of community a team creates, and for a more wellrounded campus experience.

“Division III athletic programs are often described as the conscience of the NCAA. We have our priorities in the right order and our decisions are made in the best interest of our student-athletes’ welfare. Cornell exemplifies these ideals. We are proud of who we are, what we do, and how we accomplish our goals,” says Tina Hill, who joined Cornell College’s administration last year as its first full-time director of athletics.

Historically, athletic participation has been an important component of a Cornell College liberal arts education. Residential colleges strive to offer their students the highest quality educational experiences inside and outside of the classroom. Because of the focus on the individual student, athletics at Cornell provides a unique and worthwhile learning experience, builds community and loyalty, and brings balance to life. This is why Cornell is committed to athletics.

Cornell has a distinguished history in intercollegiate athletics. Among Division III schools, it ranks ninth in the nation with 25 NCAA Postgraduate Scholars since 1965. Cornell has won numerous conference championships and, in 1947, a national championship in wrestling. It competes in 19 intercollegiate sports, nine for women and 10 for men.

As a Division III college since that designation was created in 1973, Cornell sponsors athletic programs for the benefit of students. Cornell does not award athletic scholarships and its coaches recognize that studies come first.

“As a student-athlete at Cornell, I appreciated the fact that although my coach pushed me to perform to the best of my ability in athletics, he always maintained that academics were of the utmost importance,” says former young trustee Rogene Pendleton ’97, an outstanding tennis player who graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

Regrettably, the level of support Pendleton received has not always existed at Cornell. A football coach once told Dr. V.K. Rowe ’36 that he had to turn in his uniform if he continued arriving late to practice after chemistry and biology labs. Rowe quit the team and spent four years participating in intramural athletics. Today he would not have a conflict between class and practice. With One-Course-At-A-Time, all classes and labs end at 3 p.m., before athletic practices and music and theater rehearsals begin.

This article was adapted from a white paper written by President Les Garner. To view it and other white papers on topics including college affordability, relevance of the liberal arts, and One-Course-At-A-Time, go to www.cornellcollege.edu/campus_offices/president/.

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