Historic 61st Cortaca was truly more than just a game

By President Shirley M. Collado, November 22, 2019
As an institution that strongly centers the liberal arts within a context of an experiential and professional education, this year’s Cortaca was emblematic of the essence of the IC experience.

The Ithaca College community had a major moment last weekend, a moment that united not only the sports fans among us, but our entire IC family around the promise of Ithaca College.

On November 16, IC’s football team won the 61st annual Cortaca game against rival SUNY Cortland on a national stage: MetLife Stadium, home of the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets.

Football players run out onto the field

A record Division III crowd attended the game – 45,161 – and a record number of our IC alumni gathered to be a part of the event.

At the start of the game, I was thrilled to be on the field, cheering when our players came out of the tunnel. I also had the great privilege of hearing head coach Dan Swanstrom talk to his players in the huddle before kickoff, and this was a moment that has really stayed with me. Dan’s leadership and philosophy sets the tone for this program, and I deeply value how he frames the scholar-athlete experience in terms of process and in terms of how each individual shows up as a human being on and off the field.

Our Liberal Arts Core

As an institution that strongly centers the liberal arts within a context of an experiential and professional education, this year’s Cortaca captured the essence of the IC experience. It was a moment that pushed beyond the boundaries of our excellent football program and activated our entire community while providing amazing interdisciplinary student experiences. 

IC's radio-television students sit in a pressbox

Our television-radio students called the game from the huge pressbox at MetLife Stadium, and the ICTV stream brought more than 70,000 visitors to the feed. The gameday experience capped off a series of opportunities the students had, including developing a pregame show that ran in the stadium prior to kickoff.

Our radio-television students covered the game from a professional-caliber pressbox. Our sport management and business students—led by senior Marco Fontana—ran the on-campus ticket sales, contributing to the record-breaking turnout. Students teamed with members of our Alumni Affairs department to plan and execute alumni events, including the Friday Night Lights party and the “Fan Fest” before the game. Our choir students gave me chills as they performed the national anthem, our cheerleaders had an opportunity to rouse a crowd bigger than any they’d seen at Butterfield Stadium, and our African Drumming and Dance Ensemble captured the sheer joy of self-expression during the halftime show.

When our students shine like this, I am not only filled with pride but with tremendous gratitude for Ithaca College’s talented faculty and staff, and the hard work, expertise, and dedication they pour into their work.

Creating an Ithaca Forever Community

The game was the culmination of incredible and creative collaborative effort, and demonstrated what this community is capable of when we put our students and their experience at the core of everything we do.

The next five years will bring change to Ithaca College, as we move forward with the implementation of our strategic plan, Ithaca Forever. As we look ahead, we have made it very clear, both on campus and with our greater IC community, that students are our “why.”

Everything we do in the coming years will be aligned with this purpose, and I think it is so fitting that in this first year, as we’re launching this plan to move the college forward, we are lifting off with an event like this one.

Without a doubt, our 61st Cortaca reminded us not only of the transformative moments that are possible for Ithaca College students, but also the deep love that our alumni family has for IC and for one another. I look forward to building on this momentum in the coming months and years, and continuing to create and nurture our Ithaca Forever community.