When I decided to take the Division III route and become a Bomber, I knew that the fan inside of me was losing out to the athlete.
I chose to run for a school where I knew I could become an integral part of a competitive team over jumping up and down in the student section of a massive football stadium and maybe eking out a position among the scrub runners on the cross country team. However, there was one event where I knew I could get that big-time college sports atmosphere: Cortaca.
In my first few weeks on campus, I asked some of the upperclassmen on the cross country team what it was like to go to Cortaca, and I received upsetting news: The NCAA Atlantic Region championships, the most important meet of the season, was on the day of Cortaca. Every. Single. Year.
I did get to experience the game, however, when my freshman season was cut short by a stress fracture. I ended up cheering on the Bombers at Butterfield Stadium when they won their last Cortaca Jug in 2009, and I felt like I got the Division I fan experience I hoped for. But I knew that next year I wanted the Division III experience of running at regionals. My next three Cortaca games weren’t spent in public displays of intoxication in the stands but rather in the nervous air of toeing the starting line with 300 other athletes who had all spent the last six months training for the next 26 or so minutes.
It turns out I am not the only one who has missed out on the Cortaca experience for their own athletic pursuits.
For the seniors on the women's soccer team, the first round of the NCAA playoffs has fallen on the day of Cortaca for each of their four years on South Hill. Senior Julie Winn said after losing in the first round of the Empire 8 tournament last year, the team attempted to find a silver lining by wondering if they would actually be able to attend the football game.
"We weren't sure if we were going to get a bid, and we were talking like, ‘Oh, maybe we'll get to go to Cortaca this year,’" Winn said. "And then we realized we don't want to go — we'd much rather be playing."
In the end, the Bombers did receive an at-large bid to the NCAAs and put it to good use by making a run all the way to the final four in San Antonio.
The women's basketball team always plays a scrimmage the day of Cortaca. Senior Devin Shea said Head Coach Dan Raymond always schedules a scrimmage for the day of Cortaca.
"If Cortaca is away, our scrimmage is at home, and if the game is away, our scrimmage is somewhere else," she said. "I mean, we don't want to get drunk or anything, but it would be nice to go to the game."
Winn and Shea both expressed a small measure of disappointment that their own sports prevented them from attending Cortaca, but each athlete said they would much rather be suiting up to compete for the Bombers than cheer them on in the stands. I could not agree more. So if you end up talking to an athlete and find out they weren't at the Cortaca game because they had a game of their own, ask them how it went. We don't expect to have 7,000 fans cheering us on, but it is nice know Bomber Nation is behind us, even if only in spirit.