Talking Cornell With Cornell

Going into the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament, the Cornell Big Red was known for three things:

*They are part of an elite fraternity of schools that have their mascot end its name without the letter “s.”

*They are the alma mater of one Andrew Bernard, one of the characters of “The Office.”

*People who matriculate on this campus are really, really smart.  Even smarter than me.

Everyone knows how the Big Red took apart Wisconsin on Sunday, leading to a date with Kentucky in the Sweet 16.

Here’s where this story gets real fun. Cornell also won the ECAC hockey title this year. But wait, there’s more. The wrestling team finished in second place to Drake for the national championship and their women’s hockey team lost in triple overtime in the championship game.

All of a sudden Cornell has turned into Stanford.

Looking to speak with someone who currently rides this magical journey with the Big Red, I sent a couple of e-mails to folks in the media relations office at Cornell. Time passed. I heard nothing back from them. Since they are in the middle of one of the more improbable runs in recent amateur athletics history I’ll give them a pass.

Worried that my entry might lack depth, I needed another point of view that understood what it meant to be part of the Cornell experience.

So, I asked my Facebook friend Kelly what she thought of the Big Red. Her last name? You guessed it, Cornell.

She lives out in sunny California and graduated from the University of Maryland (her Dad wanted her to apply to Cornell, hoping for a scholarship fund for namesakes).

Don’t take Kelly for a girl that needs to rely on her man to understand the difference between a 1-seed and a double dribble. She knows her stuff. Kelly not only throws out the name of the Big Red’s leading scorer, she also knows a litany of famous alums from the prestigious Ivy League school. Then again, she may just know how to use google.

Kelly looks at “her” Big Red team with pride. “It’s sort of like owning your own team without the financial burden or box seats,” Cornell (er, Kelly) said. “However, I am less than thrilled with their very vague mascot choice of the Big Red. I am not sure what to make of it. Either way, I do enjoy a good Cinderella story and Cornell certainly has delivered this season.”

And yes, she will be cheering for herself in the Sweet 16. “It’s hard not to when thousands of people are wearing your name on their shirt, chanting your name in the crowd and your name is all over the scoreboards,” Cornell added.

Thousands of people will root for the underdog Cornell in Thursday’s Regional Semifinal in New York. In the Cornell household, they get to chant their name for two hours. How cool is that?

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