ITHACA, NY -- Cornell's athletic complex was buzzing on Saturday — there was a football game, a highly-anticipated wrestling match that saw longtime coach Rob Koll return as the new coach of Stanford, and there were also two hockey games. The women shut out Princeton 2-0 in the afternoon, and that victory was followed up with a 3-0 take down of Yale by the Big Red men (who, with the win, moved to 7-1, 5-1 ECAC Hockey, 3-1 Ivy League). It would seem — as the pieces of the puzzle of normalcy continue to be located and put in place — that the Lynah Faithful would be on the proverbial Cloud Nine. After my conversation with two longtime season ticket holders, my personal calculation is that Cloud Seven is more accurate. I will, a bit later, explain how Clouds 8 and 9 might be reattained.
Penny and Jay O'Leary have proudly identified as members of the Lynah Faithful as season ticket holders for the better part of 15 years, and I asked Jay if he would still be so excited to return if the Big Red were not playing at such a high level. “That's a good question,” Jay offered. “I will tell you this, even with the mask and vaccination card requirements, seeing people you haven't seen in two years, and laughing and high-fiving does bring a wonderful sense of normalcy.” He added, “Friday night's game was great — watching a final overtime goal (in the 3-2 win over Brown) — and on Saturday, not only did the team play well in front of a near-capacity crowd, the national anthem was performed by a woman who is a member of one of the military choirs, and it was spectacular.”
In Jay's words, “Those relationships with other season ticket holders have grown over the years, and we are all very happy to be back in each others' company.” Also giving a shout out to some of the behind-the-scenes components, he added, “I can't say enough about the staff at Lynah Rink. They are doing a great job.”
Penny is a lifelong sports aficionado (her son, Ryan Stevens, is the baseball coach at Wells College), and she agreed that things are moving (mostly) in a good direction. “Just being back watching live sporting events is great...” I sensed a “however” coming, and sure enough, it was.
In addition to being a sports fan, Penny is a healthcare worker who has been in the trenches since the beginning of the pandemic. She has worked grueling hours in numerous capacities, and her experiences prompted her to say, “After watching this thing run rampant for nearly two years now, it was very disheartening to see so many students acting like idiots. They were asked by a staff worker to put on their masks, they refused, and in my opinion, it shouldn't take three security guards to get someone to put on a mask. Those displays of disrespect and disregard were very disappointing.”
The other obstacle to being on Cloud 9 was explained by Jay, who said, “There is a bit of angst among season ticket holders. We don't have our seats yet, and we are required to sign in and buy our tickets on Monday before they go on sale to the general public on Tuesday, but if you're not quick enough, you're out of luck.” He pointed out that the seating arrangements will be worked out by the time the team returns to Lynah Rink in about eight weeks.
In O'Leary's words, “It is definitely a long dry spell between now and late January, but if anyone is experiencing withdrawal symptoms, they can go to Madison Square Garden.” I asked if he was going to the Garden, and before he could answer, Jay was informed that the O'Leary home has “so many projects and so much unfinished business,” and I got the idea that he would not be attending...
I'd like to wish all of our readers a very happy Thanksgiving, and once again express my gratitude that you take the time to read our stories. It means a lot.