ITHACA, NY -- “If thousands of Cornellians and Big Red fans around the country were a little bleary-eyed on Monday, March 22, 2010, from excessive television viewing during the weekend, you could hardly fault them.” (From “Making History: March 18-21, 2010, The Greatest Cornell Sports Weekend Ever.”)
I have seen several movies in which people marooned on a desert island or imprisoned in some God-forsaken place maintain their sanity by mentally revisiting the good times and holding onto the hope that they will get back there one day. While not comparing myself to a person in such a dismal fix, I – like so many other sports fans – have been on a desert island of sorts for the past several months. In an effort to revisit the good times, I called fellow sports media guy Mark Goldberg.
Mark is a native Ithacan and he has been connected to Cornell sports in many ways since his childhood. As an undergrad at Cornell (class of ’81), Mark served as the basketball team’s manager, and upon graduating he took the job as the assistant sports information director. He went on to found MomentumMedia, publishing several magazines and undertaking many specialty publishing projects. If there is a harder-working, more generous and genuinely nice guy anywhere, I have yet to meet him.
Mark and I had a conversation a few days ago, and we were like two starving men reminiscing about the feast they once attended. We thought back to that unbelievable weekend in 2010, when Cornell was all over the national sports radar – appearing on CBS, ESPN, Fox Sports and the NHL Network – and I recalled that Mark’s company had released a special publication to celebrate it.
“I’ll never forget it,” Mark said. “During my time at Cornell, I would have been thrilled if the basketball team had won an Ivy title, and there they were in Jacksonville, having won their third consecutive Ivy championship and mowing down these powerhouse teams.” (The Big Red shocked Temple and Wisconsin on their way to the NCAA Sweet 16, the first time an Ivy team had been there since 1979.)
That run would have made for a historic weekend, but wait… there’s more! The men’s hockey team had won the ECAC and was moving on, and the women’s hockey team was competing for a national championship, as was the wrestling team. All told, it added up to 12 hours of coverage over a 3-day span, and the women’s hockey and wrestling teams both finished as national runners-up.
A few months after that veritable sports smorgasbord, Goldberg and his colleagues at MomentumMedia released “Making History: March 18-21, 2010, The Greatest Cornell Sports Weekend Ever.”
Looking back on that time, Mark said, “We ended up doing two specialty books, one on the basketball team and one on all four teams. Jon Jacques (a member of the Sweet Sixteen team and a current Cornell assistant coach) had been writing for me, and he’s such a good writer. We completed the book about the basketball team, and we said, ‘This will never happen again.’ I got so absorbed and I said ‘Let’s do another one!’”
Asked if the book made anyone wealthy, Mark laughed and said, “We sold some, but it didn’t matter. We had to get it done.” The book featured some great photographs from some of the area’s best sports photographers, like Tim McKinney, Patrick Shanahan and Dave Burbank, Lindsey Michalik and Ned Dykes, and some great writing was put forth by Andy Noel, Dave Wohlheuter, Jeremy Schaap, Jeremy Hartigan, Kevin Zense, Bill Duthie and Steve Friedman (as well as several other “insiders”) .
We talked about the fact that while Cornell has not seen a weekend like that for some time (few schools have), there are still plenty of people who will be thrilled to get back to the venues when allowed. In Goldberg’s words, “Attending Cornell sporting events is a huge part of their social lives. The hockey games, the wrestling matches – they sell them out.” Sounding more like a fan than a journalist, Mark added, “When I talk to people about it, there is even a bit of depression. People will come back for sure.”
Reiterating what he wrote in the book’s introduction, Mark added, “As Cornell fans, we will remember March 18-21, 2010 forever.”