Previewing one of D3’s biggest football games
You go to bed the night before with that anxious, exciting feeling in your stomach. You’ve waited all year for this and it’s finally here. You wake up early the next morning, feeling like a child again. You put on all the blue and gold attire you own, go into the kitchen, greet your friends’ beautiful shining faces and commence in an all day drinking fest. It’s Cortaca.
2010 Ithaca alumni Alyssa Cowit recalls her and her friends saying, “this feels like Christmas morning.“ Perhaps the level of excitement is the same, and maybe even the weather too some years, but in no other ways is Cortaca at all like Christmas. It’s more like the closest thing any Ithaca College student will get to a Division I experience.
For starters, more people show up to this game than any other game during the season. Freshman Kimberly Carnero heard rumors that, “there’s over 10,000 people that go.“ That would be close to double the school’s student population, and would mean that the majority of students bring at least one person who doesn’t go to IC.
Junior football player Camden Baker said, “once you’re on the field, it’s just another football game.“ If that’s so, what is with all the hype?
Sports Illustrated is said to have referred to Cortaca (a portmanteau of SUNY Cortland and IC) as “the biggest little game in the nation.“ Research conducted last year by The Ithacan suggests that this motto may be misleading, since it’s derived from just one article by a writer named John Walters in 1991. Still, the schools have latched onto this name even when subsequent games have not been as big.
This year’s graduating class has yet to experience a win over Cortland. Ithaca’s last win came in 2009, with a close score of 23-20. This year, however, could bring a change to this losing streak. The Bombers have put seven wins under their belt this season, which makes fans more than hopeful for an Ithaca victory against Cortland’s four consecutive wins.
The Bombers are scheduled to play Salisbury on Nov. 9, a week before Cortaca. They currently have a better record than Salisbury and beat them in last year’s game with a final score of 21-14. This game will hopefully bring the Bombers another win and give them more confidence and encouragement to keep this win streak going and beat Cortland.
When asked about predictions for the upcoming games, Baker said, “We’re taking it game by game right now, but when we get to Cortaca we’ll need to have a great week of practice, and it should be an exciting game.”
For the 21 seniors on the team, winning the Cortaca Jug for the first time in their four years here would be a memorable takeaway to an already tremendous season.
For many IC students, this is one of the few times a year they can show just how much pride they have for their school. Division I students have the privelege of displaying their pride almost every weekend, but many Ithacans wait around all year, letting their pride bubble up inside until this one day. This is just one explanation for the excessive partying that goes on during this day.
Pride is mostly displayed through attire. Besides all the blue-and-goldstriped socks, gloves, ear warmers, and sometimes even faces, students also indulge in the wildly inappropriate Cortaca t-shirts. This year’s selection of shirts include “Cortland Girls Poop,“ “Dragon Our Nuts on Cortland’s Face Since 1868“ and “Champions Wear Gold.“ Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your view), these shirts are discouraged from being worn at the stadium. Of course, students will do so anyway, but IC prefers than fans show their pride in ways other than dissing the other team with inappropriate shirts.
However, it is all part of the Cortaca culture. Half of one’s college experience is what goes on outside of the classroom. Taking part in these traditions keeps that experience well-rounded.
The tradition began in 1959. Being only about 20 miles apart, these schools are inevitable rivals. The schools’ football teams have played against each other since 1930, but it was the 1959 game that began the Cortaca Jug. The jug itself was bought by then-captain of the Cortland team Tom Decker, who then brought it to his friend, Ithaca captain Dick Carmean. The two men painted the jug in their schools’ colors and used it as a trophy and marker of the final score for the annual Cortaca game. The schools are now on to their second jug trophy because the first one filled up with scores in the 1980s.
The game is home this year at Butterfield Stadium, at noon on Nov. 16. So even if waking up, brushing your teeth and then drinking alcohol isn’t your thing, or you don’t want to spend money on an inappropriate, discouraged shirt, at least show up to the game. Show your support and be a part of the tradition. The team could always use more Bomber pride. If there was ever a great day to be a Bomber, that day is Cortaca.
Jodi Silberstein is a junior journalism major who thinks everyone should check out Cortaca at least once. Email her at jsilber1[at]ithaca.edu.