November 17, 2008
Fans cheer on the teamSUNY students caught up in Cortaca game football spirit
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland students cheer on the Red Dragons at the Cortaca Jug game versus Ithaca College Saturday in a driving rain
Spirited SUNY Cortland fans showed their allegiance in colorful ways despite the rain and cold at Saturday’s Cortaca Jug football game by painting their faces, chanting encouragement and wearing red.
Downtown, the bars were filled early with people spilling out onto the streets even before the game began. And at the game itself the weather did not deter the devoted fans who came to cheer, stomp, scream and curse down the competition.
The competition over the coveted jug began in 1959 and became tradition, with this year’s game being especially exciting because SUNY Cortland came into it with a perfect 9-0 record and Ithaca College an almost perfect 8-1.
To the majority of fans who came out Saturday, the event was more about school pride and a reason to bond than it was about winning or losing.
Cortland alumna Robyn Blackmore said she graduated in 2006 but comes back every year for the game, which was once dubbed the “biggest little game in the nation” by Sports Illustrated.
“When you are here you make a family and it’s the one time a year you get to get together besides alumni weekend,” Blackmore said, as she stood wearing a red sorority shirt that declared a hatred of Ithaca since 1928.
Blackmore’s sorority sister Jamie Decicco said she graduated in 2003 and agreed the weekend is all about the ambience of the game.
Quoting a shirt she had seen worn by a fan, Decicco said, “Whether we win or lose, we still booze.”
Cortland sophomore Will Razzano came bounding down the stadium steps toward the concession stand before the game, wearing red to show his school spirit.
“It’s Central New York pride,” Razzano said, adding he plans to attend the game every year, although he missed last year.
“The whole school is here rooting for the team, it’s fun,” Razzano said.
Doug Gornicki, a senior who was watching the game from the comfort of the press box as part of the sports management club, said the Cortaca Jug game is bigger than any home game and the most important game of the year.
He and his fellow sports management peers agreed the rivalry and tradition of the Cortaca game make the event more exciting than any other game.
Freshmen Rich Loeschner and Max Raterman were watching a rare moment during the event when both the Ithaca and Cortland stands were cheering in unison. At halftime a man performed with his border collie, throwing a Frisbee for the dog and fans on either side went wild at each of the canine’s agile catches.
Raterman described the Cortaca game as one big party Thursday through Sunday and Loeschner said he had gotten one hour of sleep Friday night.
“It lives up to its hype, it’s pretty crazy,” Loeschner said. “The rivalry is legitimate.”
Raterman said he had invited high school friends up for the occasion and they were tailgating before the game in the back of his truck.
Sophomore Alicia DeMayo was taking shelter briefly under a stadium tier as she ate a hotdog after halftime.
“The rivalry makes it more interesting even though most people don’t even know why it’s there,” DeMayo said. “The school makes the game well known, they even prepare you for it at orientation.”
DeMayo said she saw the game at Ithaca last year but said it was awkward being on the opponent’s territory and much preferred home turf.
Ithaca fans, who occasionally appeared as blue dots in a sea of red on the bleachers under the press box, would probably agree. Several wayward fans were booed off Cortland’s stands during the course of the game.
Casey Hahl, a senior at Cortland and president of the Student Government Association, said the game shows how Cortland students are a big family.
“The alumni reconnect and it’s a Division III school but there is a lot of pride,” Hahl said.
“It’s a great weekend and a great game with a lot of sportsmanship,” she said.
The Red Dragons were ranked sixth nationally by the American Football Coaches Association coming into the game and will play in the NCAA playoffs. The Bombers were ranked 18th by the AFCA.
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