Last week, we took a look back at some of the sports stories that unfolded in 2019, but I left one out, and for good reason. I want to use that upbeat and inspiring story to set the stage for what I hope to see more of in 2020.

Just before calling it a semester, many Ithaca College athletes took part in the first-ever BomberTHON for the purpose of raising funds for the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse. The effort was a part of the larger Miracle Network Dance Marathons and the Children’s Miracle Network, organizations that dedicate their work to providing financial and emotional support for families facing childhood cancer. 

In a time when we hear so many stories about the underbelly of collegiate athletics – entitled athletes, crooked agents, money-grabbing coaches and back door dealings – we don’t hear enough about regular college students working hard to make their campuses and communities better places. 

I reached out to Susan Bassett – Ithaca College’s Athletic Director – and she told me, “The effort involved many Ithaca College students – athletes and non-athletes – and while it was not officially sponsored by the Athletic Department it was great to see the Bomber name used, as it so often is, for such good things.” Bassett called the event “a great collaborative effort,” and conveyed her opinion that she was impressed by the “student-run, student administered” event. 

Ms. Bassett also said, “We like to see students take responsibility, learn outside the classroom, plan and execute. I was thrilled - not just with the outcome - but to see such a high level of cross-campus engagement. It’s exactly what we want to see the Ithaca College community doing. Not just what we do, but how we go about it.” 

Ah, yes… the outcome. Bassett offered, “The goal was to raise $15,000, and they brought in $28,233!” The I.C. athletes accounted for $7,200 of that haul, led by the women’s crew team north-of-$2,000 effort. Men’s lacrosse raised nearly a thousand, men’s and women’s soccer each raised nearly $700, field hockey hit the $600 mark and men’s swimming and diving raised $500. 

Susan Bassett wrapped up our conversation by saying, “It was great to see the I.C. athletic teams take part in such a large effort. We are very proud.” 

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Local hockey fans know that both Big Red teams are off to strong starts, and Cornell women’s ice hockey coach Doug Derraugh was kind enough to take the time to update me on the team’s season to date, and when a team is 13-1-1 overall and 7-0-1 in conference play, the obvious question is “What do you do to keep it going?” Derraugh said, “At the start of the year, we were hoping to play strong team defense, and in the first half of the season we did that.” He added, “We’re hoping to also get really balanced scoring from all three lines, and we’re starting to get there.” 

Doug was clear that for a team to go deep into the post-season, such balance will be key. He offered, “We have more players scoring and that’s a positive sign. As the season progresses, if your ‘top line’ isn’t clicking, and the second and third line can step up, that depth is important.”

I also asked Derraugh how much attention he pays to rankings (C.U. is currently ranked 4th), and he said, “We do pay attention to the computer rankings, because they decide a lot at the end of the year.” Asked about the 13-1-1- start, Doug said, “At the start of every season, you want to win every game, and you take every loss to heart, but yes, I’d say if someone would have asked if I’d be happy with our start I would say ‘Yes, I am.’” 

Before returning to Lynah on Jan. 17, the Big Red women’s ice hockey team will travel to Central New York to take on ECAC Hockey foes Union and Rensselaer on Jan. 10-11.

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