NYCortaca Continues the Tradition of Togetherness

 As families around the country gather together for Thanksgiving, there comes a story out of New York City about Ithaca College alumni gathering to cheer on the Bombers and give back to the community.

NYCortaca, an event that celebrates the match-up between IC and SUNY Cortland, has been held every year since 2009, and it gives alumni living in the Big Apple the chance to get together and relive the traditions they enjoyed as college students. These IC alumni may not have been huddled on the chilly bleachers, but their cheers could still be heard loud and clear.

The alumni also carried on the spirit of giving by collecting food for victims of Hurricane Sandy. The food was donated to the New York Food Bank.

We filled the back of an SUV to the roof with boxes of canned goods,” said Jared J. Smith ’06. “It was easily hundreds of pounds of food.”

Smith organized the first East Coast event in 2009 after living and working in Los Angeles, California, and attending Cortacal, another satellite watch party. After securing a place to stream the game, the crowds just started coming. Now in its fourth year, NYCortaca doesn’t seem to be letting up, growing from just over one hundred people in the first year to over 700 people this year. Smith attributes the success of the event to the strong bonds people form on South Hill.

“I think people are rooting for Ithaca to win the game, but the game is secondary to getting together and reliving that feeling of community you have in college,” Smith said.

Smith said the crowd includes recent grads and people who graduated five, 10, or more years ago. He said, “They get to reminisce, tell stories about college and have fun the same way they did during Cortaca weekend when they were actually in Ithaca.”

The added food drive was the perfect way to give back, Smith said, without asking people for money.

“That felt good, being able to turn this event into a little more than just partying and watching a football game,” Smith said.

Brian Hoeflschweiger ’06 has helped Smith organize the event in the past and looks forward to the crowds of IC alumni each year. He said, “The sheer size of this event is a testament to the sense of community that IC alumni feel.”

This year’s NYCortaca was at the Brooklyn Bowl, but with a growing crowd it may need an even bigger space next year.

“Each venue thus far has provided a unique experience and I can’t wait to see where we celebrate next year,” Hoeflschweiger said.

Leanne Gabinelli ’08 said no matter one’s borough or occupation, everyone comes together each November for the big game.

“When you are at NYCortaca, you forget for a minute that you are an accountant or marketing associate or lawyer and you really feel like you are back in college with all your friends watching the game!” Gabinelli said.