These “Year in Review” columns — of which I have written 28 — normally follow a predictable arc. In January, February and March, winter sports are in full swing, and finding basketball, wrestling, gymnastics or hockey stories about which to write presents little challenge. April, May and June give us a smorgasbord of lacrosse, baseball, softball, track and field and the like. The summer months call for a bit more creativity in finding column ideas, but when the students return to the football and soccer fields in the fall, there is once again a bounty of ideas.
Now I will apologize for using the word “normally” in a 2020 review. My bad...
The year started out with some normalcy. I loved writing about Ithaca native Cheyenne Reynolds, who is an athletic trainer at Clemson and was once again in the middle of the monster spectacle known as the College Football National Championship Game.
The Big Red hockey teams and wrestling program were — as usual — looking toward big things, not just in their own conferences, but nationally. Cornell hosted a basketball reunion to honor their Ivy championship teams, and many of the guys from the 1988, 2008, 2009 and 2010 teams showed up. It was great to see all of them, and the packed gym was rocking again.
I wrote about three local women — Chelsea Benson, Ellie Pell and Bailey Drewes — who were training for the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Like wrestlers Kyle Dake and Vito Arujau, who were also hoping to compete on the international stage, the women thought the 2020 Tokyo Olympics would take place. (While Dake’s opportunity to realize his Olympic dream was put on hold, he did win his second World Title.)
When COVID hit the fan in March, the Ivy League led the way by canceling their winter sports post-season tournaments, much of the rest of the country followed suit, and we used up a lot of column space interviewing league directors, athletic directors, coaches and other insiders to try to get a sense of how long the apple cart would be upset. I admired much of the optimism put forth, but it was clear that there was still much to be learned.
Once every six years (due to leap year, I think) we publish on April 1, and I love trying to pull the wool over the eyes of my astute readers. I made up a fake motorcycle club (one in which the men rode on the back while their wives piloted the bike), gave it a fake name (D.OB.B.ers: Dudes on Back of Bikes), and got several of my friends to pose for the photos. It was a blast to write that, it sucked a few people in, and the most entertaining part for me was observing how bent out of shape some guys became when asked to pose for a photo on the back of their bike with their wife driving. It was as if I asked to insert an I.V. and drain out half their testosterone.
I loved writing about the many forms of creativity brought to personal exercise regimens and to big fundraisers.
I loved writing about Maeve, a young girl facing a serious health challenge, and Moose, the horse that was her friend and a part of her healing team. A boat parade was organized to celebrate the end of Maeve’s treatments, and the inlet was lined with well-wishers. Moose was one of them. That story made me cry.
I was inspired by Vicki and Michaela Brew and Amy and Elizabeth Dawson, the mother-daughter duos that refused to let the lockdown get them down. The Brews rode their bicycles around all 11 Finger Lakes and the Dawsons hiked 200 consecutive days. Damn…
On Sept. 11, I accompanied Richie Moran to Schoellkopf Field where he would hang a wreath in Eamon McEneaney’s honor for the 19thconsecutive year. Eamon played for Riche during the Big Red’s historic 42-game winning streak (including two undefeated seasons and two national championships), and he died in the World Trade Center. The Hall of Fame coach usually addresses the lacrosse team, but this year, it was just Richie, Bill White and me. It was no less moving.
If I have any regrets about my column in 2020, one would be the fact that I — after 39 years of friendship, misspelled Dave Wohlhueter’s last name throughout a recent story. Sorry, Dave.
Thanks again for reading this year. Have a great holiday season, and I’ll see you in 2021. Appreciate ya.