Taylor Knibb.jpg

ITHACA, NY -- When Taylor Knibb (Cornell class of 2020) made the Olymic team back in May, I asked the Big Red's head coach Mike Henderson if he was surprised.  Henderson offered, “Everyone who knows Taylor is aware of her motivation, her drive and her competitive spirit, so no, we are not surprised. Impressed, but not surprised.”  

That said, it is not a surprise that Taylor will be leaving Tokyo with a silver medal, as she and Katie Zaferes, Kevin McDowell and Morgan Pearson stepped onto the podium after finishing second in the Mixed Relay Triathlon. The 2020 Games are the first time the event has been part of the Olympic lineup. The teams comprise two men and two women, and each athlete completes a Super-Sprint Triathlon — swimming 300 meters, biking 6.8 kilometers and running two kilometers before tagging the next-up teammate.  

Knibb's medal was the 62nd overall for Cornell athletes, the 25th silver, and the first since the prolific summer of '92, when rower Stephanie Maxwell-Pierson won a bronze medal and wrestler Chris Campbell and swimmer Pablo Morales both won gold. 

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Sometimes people do not realize how much something — or someone — means to them until that thing — or person — is gone. 

In March of 2020, the Cornell lacrosse team took two major hits. First, it was announced that the 5-0 Big Red — ranked #1 — would see its season cut short when the pandemic forced the cancellation of the season. A few days later, Jim Case, an athletic trainer at Cornell and a beloved member of the lacrosse family, passed on unexpectedly at age 55. It was announced that someday — when things returned to some semblance of “normal” — a celebration of Jim's life would be held. 

That someday was July 31, and about 300 people showed up at the Ithaca Farmers Market to honor their friend. As each of the half-dozen speakers took the podium, the scene was enhanced by a beautiful sunset over the Cayuga Inlet, by several boats passing by, and by a few cormorrants and ducks. All three of Jim's kids spoke (Devin, Collin and Carson), as did his wife, Ladeen, his sister, former coach Jeff Tambroni and a family friend and head athletic trainer Bernie DePalma, who hired Jim and worked closely with him for 32 years.  

The fact that the Cornell lacrosse team has not played a game since Jim's passing, and many of those in attendance had not seen one another in nearly a year-and-a-half made the gathering that much more compelling. Jim's family was clearly grateful for such a great turnout, and many players and coaches from both the football and lacrosse programs were there, as Jim was also the football trainer.  Guys who have gone on to play at the highest level of the sport were there, like Max Siebald, who, in 2009, won the Tewaarton Trophy, collegiate lacrosse's equivalent of the Heisman. Former coaches Ben DeLuca and Peter Milliman were there, as was current head coach Connor Busczek, who is tasked with getting the program back into gear after such a long layoff and all manner of disruptions, like graduations and transfers. 

While the night was clearly — and justifiably — about Jim Case, there was also a great outpouring of love for Richie Moran, the retired Hall of Fame lacrosse coach who won three NCAA titles while coaching the Big Red, and who was still at Cornell when Jim was hired. Moran's successors gathered around hime for hugs and photos, looking like seekers who had ascended to the top of the college coaching mountaintop — and indeed they have, as Division I coaches. There at the top of that mountain sat Richie, the wise guru at whose feet his students were honored to sit. Longtime friends from as far back as Richie's early days at Cornell were there, like Buck Briggs, who arrived at Cornell in 1972, the year after the lacrosse team had won its first national title. 

The weather gods were smiling that evening, as 12 hours later, heavy thunderstorms rolled in. It was a beautiful tribute, put forth by an incredible extended family, in honor of one hell of a good guy.

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