Sport, which involves engaging with teams and making friends, is also fun.
“Athletics provides for the participants a way to hone human ability in the physical realm, and this
is essential to a well-educated person,” says Cornell associate professor of education Richard Peters.
“Connecting the playing field to the total experience at Cornell is very constructive and it
provides one of many lasting contacts that our students have with this great institution. And
on top of that, athletic competition is fun, it’s uplifting, and it demands great preparation.”
Tom LaMotte ’56 says his participation in Cornell tennis was a great experience
because of the lifelong friendships he formed. He emphasizes “participation” over “achievement”
in athletics. “In these times, I think sports should be organized so more students can
participate, those who want to do multiple sports can, and academic achievement and participation
in other campus activities do not suffer,” he says. “I see sports more for its means
and journey than its end and results.”
Athletics builds community and loyalty
A real advantage of a residential college such as Cornell is the educational value its
students receive by virtue of living on campus. They are actively engaged in the full life of
the college, of which athletics is an integral part. What would Cornell student life be like
without the oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi—that of the Rams and the Kohawks? There
is no doubt athletic play and rivalries build community and spirit.
Team bonding is a key attribute of athletic play, says Robin Vessels Olson ’75, a former
student-athlete whose daughter, first-year student Katie Olson, plays on Cornell’s tennis
team. “I think team sports encourage the bonding that is so important to the whole college
experience,” she says. “Our older daughter attended a small college in Pennsylvania
where athletics was not supported. There was no school spirit. She missed that bonding of
cheering for the team, pulling together for a common goal. She felt there was something
missing from the social life of the college.”
There is value for nonparticipants too, who often know many of the players personally,
take pleasure in watching them compete, and learn to see and value talents in others.
Cornell athletes know their hall mates are going to be at their games.
Quality athletics gives Cornell an advantage in recruiting as well, since 60 percent of
prospective students express interest in varsity or intramural sports. Cornell’s future
depends on having not just first-rate academics, but fine extracurricular programs that, considering
Cornell’s rural location, enable the college to meet the student desire for rich
opportunities outside the classroom.
Cornell will continue to promote athletics, toward the goal of providing the best possible
educational experience for its students. Last fall Chuck Offenburger, a former columnist
for the Des Moines Register, attended the Cornell football game against Buena Vista
University and wrote in his online column that it was a perfect experience in intercollegiate
athletics: a competitive game played for the love of the sport in a beautiful setting. That is
the role of athletics at Cornell.
|Senior Lindsey Pfalmer (Colorado Springs, Colo.)
poured in 32 points during her final basketball game for
Cornell. She also was twice named MVP of the Iowa
Conference tennis tournament.
Cornell NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners
Cornell ranks ninth in the nation in Division III
schools with 25 NCAA Postgraduate Scholars.
Steve Miller ’65
Robert Martin ’66
David Crow ’67
Charles Field ’68
David Hilmers ’72
Robert Ash ’73
D. DeWayne Birkhofer ’73
Randall Kuhlman ’74
Joseph Lauterbach ’77
Chad Wisco ’79
Tom Zinkula ’79
Steven Taylor ’80
Tim Garry ’81
Eric Reitan ’81
John Ward ’83
Jefferson Fleming ’87
Eric Willis ’88
David Hughes ’89
Brent Sands ’93
Matt Miller ’94
Abe Tubbs ’94
Chad Reed ’94
Mark McDermott ’95
Mike Tressel ’96
Matt Weiss ’99