IC Alumni Assemble during Cortaca 2019 for Largest-Ever Gathering

By Kyle Hornyak, November 20, 2019
Thousands of Ithaca College alumni from across the country converged at MetLife Stadium to show their Bomber pride.

The 61st Cortaca Jug game on November 16 was truly one for the record books: not only was the Division III football game attendance record shattered by the 45,161 fans who showed up to cheer on the Bombers and Red Dragons from the stands of MetLife Stadium, but this year’s matchup also undoubtedly brought together the largest-ever gathering of Ithaca College alumni in one place.

“The sea of blue in the parking lots before the game and then in the stadium itself was a sight to behold,” said Wendy Kobler, Ithaca College’s vice president for institutional advancement. “While we have no way of calculating the exact number of IC grads who were among the record crowd, there is no question that this event served as a once-in-a-lifetime reunion opportunity for many thousands of our alumni.”

“Cortaca at MetLife was a truly special event, but I think the most magical part was just having so many Bombers in one place celebrating a school we're so proud of.”

Zack Ford '07

IC Alumni Association Board of Directors member Stu Katz ’83 and his colleague Rick Stone ’01 purchased 75 Cortaca tickets between the two of them to facilitate a mini-reunion at their tailgate. “For a Division III school to have over 45,000 people at a football game was amazing,” Katz acknowledged. “But being able to reconnect thousands of IC alumni with each other and the college will have many benefits over time for the entire Ithaca College community.”

“Having the Cortaca game at MetLife was a great way for me to connect with IC alumni that I haven’t talked to in years,” Stone shared. “It brought so many people out that you couldn’t walk 10 feet in the parking lots without seeing someone you knew.”

The weekend’s action kicked off the night before game day at the Friday Night Lights party. IC alumni from all class years convened at the Hyatt House Jersey City’s Terrace Lounge, including Herb Kahl ’65, who has proudly attended every Cortaca game starting with the inaugural 1958 contest. During the event, guests mingled and danced to live music by “FreePlay” featuring alumni Jim Pino ’91 on saxophone with Jen Greene ’92 on vocals. Between sets, Reggie Bradford ’91 and “Beats Walking By” worked their magic on the turntables.

IC President Shirley M. ColladoMarc Hudak ’90, former IC Football center and Chair of the New York City chapter of the National Football Foundation; and Dave Lissy '87 each took time to address the crowd and share their enthusiasm for what promised to be an incredible weekend for the alumni community.

On the morning of game day, the MetLife Stadium parking lot was completely packed with tailgaters, many of whom participated in the college’s Cortaca Tailgate Contest as part of IC’s interactive Fan Fest. An esteemed panel of judges, including IC Alumni Association Board of Directors (AABD) President Ami Maki ’94 and AABD Communications Chair Zack Ford ’07, bestowed prizes to Brian Post ’87, P ’22 and friends (Grand Prize), the Class of ’91 (2nd Prize), Steven Episcopo ’14 with the Class of ’14 (3rd Prize), and Sarah Simmons ’89 with The Bomber Bash/Pines Crew (Runner Up).

“Even just walking through the parking lot to the stadium, it was clear that everyone at the college did an amazing job to make this an incredible event that IC can be proud of,” shared IC Trustee Kristin R. Muenzen ’00, who was a four-year member of the women's soccer and softball teams. “The highlight of the weekend for me was just seeing how many alumni came back, and seeing those people who really made my Ithaca experience.”

“As an alum and former longtime IC employee, I can honestly say I have never seen anything like this in my decades of history with the college,” shared Deb Mohlenhoff ’92. “I was not only able to reconnect with fellow classmates from the early 90’s; I was able to reconnect with literally hundreds of former students of mine. The entire experience was an overwhelming exuberance of connection, unity, pride, and love for Ithaca College.”

When asked from the stands how it felt to be a part of the largest IC alumni gathering ever, Jenny Porter '15 summed up her feelings with a succinct, “It’s exhilarating!” Porter, who attended Cortaca games as both a student and an alumna, brought her boyfriend (a Fordham University alumnus) with her. “He’s here by association,” she shared, jokingly.

Even alumni who couldn’t make the trek to MetLife Stadium got in on the action. Cortaca Viewing Parties, which have been held with assistance from IC’s Alumni Relations office since 2006, allow alumni in locations across the country to rally together at a local venue and cheer the Bombers on to victory, as is the case with the CortaCal event in Los Angeles. “CortaCal is such a great way to get Los Angeles-based alumni together under one roof,” shared Ram Calley ’07, CortaCal co-founder. “It has become a real tradition for us Angelenos and something we look forward to every year!”

While the game itself was far and away the draw for many alumni who attended Cortaca 2019, Zack Ford notes that the common denominator for alumni who participated in the weekend’s festivities is the Ithaca College experience. “Cortaca at MetLife was a truly special event, but I think the most magical part was just having so many Bombers in one place celebrating a school we're so proud of,” Ford shared. “IC bonds us in a way no other experience ever will, and I really hope my fellow alumni cherished that experience as much as I did.”

See more photos

To see more photos from the 2019 Cortaca Jug, visit the Ithaca College Facebook album.