IC in the City Shines a Light on Bomber Nation

By Kerry Regan, June 5, 2023
Cortaca Jug victory adds a pleasant glow to a weekend of connecting.

It's always a nice moment before a sporting event when we find that the person singing the national anthem also has a direct connection to the event itself. It’s an especially nice moment when the singer actually participates in the game, a rarity by the way. And if the singer–athlete has something more than a shower-stall-sing-along voice, well, then you’ve got something pretty special.

That was the special moment on November 12 when, prior to the Cortaca Jug game at iconic Yankee Stadium, Bomber offensive lineman and voice major Nick Capodilupo ’24 stepped to the microphone in the west end zone wearing his navy blue number 78 uniform and sang the national anthem with operatic power, pitch, and tone that would do the Super Bowl proud. He did go off script once, however, to shout, “Go Bombers!” at the end.

The anthem performance by Nick Capodilupo ’24 had the crowd of 40,232 all cheering.

The team went on to make a statement 34-17 win over rival SUNY Cortland before a crowd of 40,232, the second largest gathering in Division III football history behind only the 2019 Cortaca Jug at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

Capodilupo’s national anthem made just as big a statement—that there’s more going on at IC than football.

In fact, it was the case that very weekend, for the game at Yankee Stadium served as the centerpiece of this year’s reunion weekend, IC in the City. Thousands of alumni attended the events that included class dinners, an alumni awards presentation, an ICUnity gathering, a meet-and-greet with IC’s president, La Jerne Terry Cornish, and a show of music, drama, and dance presented by IC alumni and students during IC on Broadway: South Hill State of Mind.

That show—at the Marriott on Broadway—was the first New York City performance for many IC students in the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance. They were among dozens of students who, much like Capodilupo, took advantage of experiential learning opportunities in support of many of the weekend’s events.

“Whether on a Broadway stage or at Yankee Stadium, IC in the City activities and the Cortaca game provided great opportunities for our 20,000 plus alumni in the region to feel a South Hill experience in the Big Apple and allowed them to reconnect around activities like reunions, alumni awards, MTD performances, and the Cortaca Jug game,” said M. Quincy Davidson, interim vice president for philanthropy and engagement

I Like Everybody

If the football game was the week-end’s centerpiece, music was the thread that tied many of the events together. Why not sing a song to kick off the ceremony honoring the top IC alumni award winners? Guest host Michael Kushner ’13 did just that at the Thursday night dinner, which also opened the IC in the City weekend. A former Outstanding Young Alumni Award winner for his musical theatre–related accomplishments, Kushner opened the ceremony by singing the Frank Loesser–penned pro-inclusiveness number “I Like Everybody.” 


Michael Kushner '13 opened the IC in the City weekend with a song by Frank Loesser called “I Like Everybody.” (Photo by Steve Hockstein)

Nine alumni and former IC administrators were honored with the college’s top awards at the ceremony. Their achievements are as diverse as the IC curriculum: establishing an orphanage in Haiti, becoming one of the few African American colonels in the U.S. Marines, founding a Maryland children’s development clinic, serving as a staff researcher at the Los Alamos and Oak Ridge National Laboratories, and supporting the college in just about every conceivable capacity.

“Tonight’s honorees join an illustrious cohort of alumni and non alumni who have contributed their efforts and expertise to making a positive impact on our college community and the wider world,” said IC’s president, La Jerne Terry Cornish, in her welcoming remarks.

The Edgar “Dusty” Bredbenner Jr. ’50 Distinguished Alumni Award went to Mark Dicker ’77, parent ’08, a nursing home administrator and assistant executive director of several New York City health care facilities and a longtime supporter of the college. Michael Kaplan ’85 summed up Dicker’s commitment to IC in his nomination letter: “Mark has been there for Ithaca College whenever they need him.” 

The breakout box below has the full list of award winners

And the Winners Are

CORTACA JUG—to the IC Bombers football team for defeating Cortland State 34-17 on November 12 at Yankee Stadium.

EDGAR “DUSTY” BREDBENNER JR. ’50 DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARD—to M ark Dicker ’77, parent ’08 , for his longtime support of the college, including as an IC trustee.

HUMANITARIAN ALUMNI AWARD—to  Reverend Dr. Carlos Perkins ’99  and Dr. Michael Henderson ’99   for establishing an orphanage and school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, that led to the founding of Beautiful Morning, a nonprofit dedicated to helping orphans.

PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD—to Ricardo Player ’89 for his 33-year career in the U.S. Marines, where he earned a 2019 Emmy Award and rose to the rank of colonel.

PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD—to  Kimberly Kurtz Lent ’91  for her 28-year career (and counting) in the School District of Philadelphia, where the largely impoverished, minority student population is showing outstanding academic results.

JAMES J. WHALEN MERITORIOUS SERVICE AWARD—to former IC president Peggy Ryan Williams (1997–2008) and former IC vice president of institutional advancement Shelley Semmler (1999–2012) for their distinguished contributions to the college, including leading IC’s largest comprehensive campaign to date in 2008, raising $145 million to endow 140 scholarships, and helping to fund construction of the Dorothy D. and Roy H. Park Center for Business and Sustainable Enterprise.

OUTSTANDING YOUNG ALUMNI AWARD—to Samantha Cary Schrell ’12 for her work as a chemist at Los Alamos and Oak Ridge National Laboratories.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD—to  Lois Moses Shofer ’67  for work on behalf of children, including founding and running the Children’s Development Clinic in Maryland.

ICUNITY SOCIAL JUSTICE AWARD—to  Treasure Blackman ’22  and Nicole Bethany ’22.

United We Stand

At the Building Bridges event that began the Friday, November 11, festivities at the Marriott Marquis, the musical contributions brought a spiritual atmosphere to the gathering. The event was organized by ICUnity, a network of IC community members that supports diversity-related programs and events, and it featured stirring performances by alumni members of the Amani Gospel Singers, who returned to perform for the event. Much like in a religious service, their performances were interwoven with the program, which also included an alumni panel, a presentation of the ICUnity Social Justice Awards, and remarks by President Cornish.

Cornish credited ICUnity with having “positively shaped life for so many on our campus” and for laying “the groundwork for the primary goal of the Ithaca College strategic plan, which is for us to become a national model of colleges commit-ted to the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Each of the alumni panelists— lawyer Michael Battle ’77, corporate executive Traci Hughes ’85, and journalist Lisbeth Perez ’17—spoke fondly of their IC experiences and how those experiences helped shape their professional lives. Hughes noted that South Hill was the first time she’d been around people who didn’t look like her, a shock, but a valuable experience because “that was what my life was to be from that point on.”

Alumnus looking at a book

Alumni had the chance to look through IC memorabilia during the weekend. (Photo by Steve Hockstein) 

Following the ICUnity event, Cornish moved on to her meet-and-greet session, where she gave brief remarks about her vision for the college before mingling. Among those who greeted her: John Cobb ’89, a chief executive officer of two companies, Giant Media and VuePlanner, whose sister, Kristin Cobb Barrett ’91, and son, John Cobb IV ’23, attended IC as well. “I just wanted to introduce myself,” said John. “I think you’re doing a great job of communicating. I’ve been actively involved through my family in the Ithaca community and the college, and if you’d ever like my perspective as an alumni and parent, I’d be more than happy to share that with you.”

Meanwhile, a handful of spirited class-specific alumni gatherings were taking place in several other meeting rooms. Irvin Nash ’72 was attending his 50th reunion. “It doesn’t seem like 50 years since I left Ithaca and graduated,” said the retired banker, ex-IC football and basketball player, and former member of the IC Alumni Board of Directors. “But I’m happy to be here and to see people I haven’t seen for many years. It’s a good opportunity for me to connect.”

They Say the Neon Lights Are Bright

Gradually they moved on to the night’s featured event, the South Hill State of Mind show in the sprawling Broadway Ballroom, where eight alumni and more than 50 students put on an eclectic, Great-White-Way-worthy show.

Alumni South Hill State of Mind Performers

Q. Smith ’00
Eric Jordan Young ’93
Grant Carey ’13
Colin Fin ’21
Eunice Akinola ’17
Jim Hynes ’78
Ezgi Irmakkesen ’21
Justin Albinder ’18

The evening also served as something of a coming-out party for the new dean of the newly minted School of Music, Theatre, and Dance—and the show’s host— Anne Hogan who’d been on the job just three months and 11 days, she noted in her welcome. “It’s terrific for students to learn about and be inspired by the accomplishments of our alumni,” she said. “And in this evening showcase, I see alumni who are seriously accomplished.”

The alumni were thrilled to be taking part as well, according to Eric Jordan Young ’93, a professor at Long Island University who has a wide range of producer, director, choreographer, entertainer, play-wright, and songwriter credits on Broadway and in television. That night, he sang two songs, “Old Devil Moon” and “Where or When?” with the IC Jazz Ensemble. “I jumped at the opportunity to sing with them,” he said. “It’s one of the great music programs in the country.”

Q Smith

Q Smith '00 also preformed during the event. (Photo by Steve Hockstein)

Young also appreciated per-forming for his fellow alumni. “I’m looking around the room and seeing faces that I haven’t seen in over 20-something years. Whenever you have some type of attachment to the people that you’re performing for—and I do have—it heightens the experience.”

The IC Jazz Ensemble expertly backed many of the performers, including Nora Abshire ’26, who performed “Cheek to Cheek” written by Irving Berlin. “Being presented with an opportunity as huge as this, as young as I am, is a thing of hope,” she said. “It was a huge reminder of what I’m working towards.” Additional performances included dramatic monologues and several dance pieces, including an opening performance by the IC African Drumming and Dance Ensemble that somehow was simultaneously trance-inducing and attention-getting.

The Students Behind the Scenes

Student-performers weren’t the only ones at the event who were engaged in experiential learning. The evening’s performances were filmed by a team of students from the senior-level Live Event Production class taught by Chrissy Guest, associate professor in the Department of Media Arts, Sciences, and Studies and director of the Television and Digital Media Production (TVDM) program.

The students’ main effort that weekend was in providing coverage of the Cortaca Giving Challenge, a weeklong friendly annual fund donation competition between the rival schools—won this year by IC with 1,201 donors to Cortland’s 1,056. They worked in a “telethon-inspired format,” according to Guest, to produce a live-streamed program on IC’s YouTube channel on the morning of the game. “What we got to do was teach the students how to engage with an audience and get them to take some sort of action, whether it be sharing the content or donating to IC,” said Guest.

The live, student-run program aired from a television studio at Bronx Community College, a partner in the Ithaca College–founded New York Film and Television Student Alliance (NYFTSA). Student members of the team also conducted live interviews that morning from Stan’s Sports Bar, near Yankee Stadium, where more than 2,000 IC supporters gathered for the Bomber Bash Cortaca Jug Pregame festivities. All of these efforts were intended to capture excitement that would lead audience members to support the IC Annual Fund. “This opportunity was a unique, practical, and hands-on learning experience that gave me critical insights into the indus-try of which I hope to be a part, a preview of what my world could be like after IC,” said one of the student participants, Gabriela Cohen ’23, a senior in TVDM. 

On the Field of Learning

Plenty more experiential learning opportunities occurred at the stadium on game day. Students in the first-year journalism class of professor and sport media program director Mead Loop had a class as-signment to cover the 2022 Cortaca Jug. Much as professional journal-ists do, the students formed a press pool and faced a quick deadline of midnight following the game. “This project is a chance for everyone in the class to gain quick and thorough experience—a chance to test the waters in a very professional way,” said Ray Milburn ’26, one of the participating students.

Other experiential learning op-portunities for students in the Roy H. Park School of Communications included covering the game on WICB, IC’s student-run radio station, and working paid student roles assisting with IC’s social media coverage. And there was one bigger prize: Jeremy Goldstein ’23, Jenna Johnson ’26, Max Tanzer ’23, and Connor Wood ’22 were four sports media students who were selected to work alongside IC alumnus and legendary sports broadcaster Bruce Beck ’78, who announced the game on the YES Network. “I have been a Yankee fan and have watched the YES Network my entire life, so calling a game on that network was a dream come true,” said Goldstein.

“This was definitely a moment I will remember as a college highlight.”

Gameday offered a number of musical opportunities as well. In addition to Nick Capodilupo singing the national anthem, the all-male-identifying a cappella group Ithacappella also performed before the game. Shina Mitchell ’24 sang “God Bless America” before the fourth quarter [she had sung “Too Damn Hot” the night before at the IC on Broadway show]. And Ben Rochford, IC assistant professor of music performance and associate director of bands, organized and led a pep band comprising nearly four dozen students and two alumni. They also performed three songs on the field during halftime.

The Jug Returns

Then there was the game itself, a closer contest than the score suggests. A Cortland field goal less than two minutes into the fourth quarter cut the IC lead to 20-17. But the Bombers went on to score two touchdowns, putting the game out of reach for the Red Dragons.

Ithaca’s stingy defense kept Cortland’s potent offense bottled up for much of the afternoon. The Red Dragons averaged more than 50 points per game over the season but came up far short of that against the Bombers. IC’s grind-it-out offense coupled with some long scoring passes and runs—including a SportsCenter top-10 catch from Julien Deumaga ’23, captured by IC athletics manager of creative media Peter Raider ’23—assured the victory.

Singers and Pep Band

Other experiential learning opportunities included performances by Ithacapella and the IC Pep Band. (Photos by Steve Hockstein)

“It’s really hard to put into words. I’m really proud of these guys,” said Michael Toerper, head coach of Ithaca College football, after the game that brought the Cortaca Jug back to South Hill. “I’m so proud of them and their resilience and their grit. They just keep going forward, no matter what’s thrown at them. They deserve this. It’s got nothing to do with me. It’s got everything to do with them.”

Back on South Hill, the Student Governance Council (SGC) partnered with the Student Activities Board, IC After Dark, and the Residence Hall Association to host a Cortaca viewing party in Emerson Suites. “I couldn’t go to the Bronx, and I decided this was the next best thing, to come here and be with people in a community and support Ithaca College,” said Elizabeth Kharababze ’24. “I feel like, as an IC student, it’s blasphemous not to experience Cortaca in some way.”

It was a game—and a weekend— to remember. As Susan Bassett ’79, associate vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics, reflected as the game concluded: “This is just a tremendous day for Ithaca College, for our football team, for everybody here, for the School of Music, Theatre, and Dance students who participated in the event. I can’t think of a better way to script this whole thing. I just think this is a dream come true.”