One of the things I’ve been doing since fall semester of my freshman year, besides eating, sleeping, breathing, and going to ChemE office hours, is pep band. I started playing the clarinet in fourth grade, took lessons for three and a half years, went through dozens of reeds and a couple mouthpieces, practiced for hundreds of hours, and was not about to stop in college. I didn’t want to commit to twice a week practices with either of the wind ensembles or the orchestra (fun fact: in eleven years of clarinet playing, I have never played with a full orchestra), so I joined the pep band.
All events are completely optional in pep band, but when it comes to events like away trips where we get limited tickets, people who have been coming to more events get priority for those tickets. The other main event with limited spaces is men’s hockey, the most popular sport to attend at Cornell. Hockey season starts in mid-October with the Red-White game, where the men’s and women’s teams scrimmage and the band splits up to cheer on both Cornell teams.
Right now, we’re in the middle of hockey season, with both the men’s and women’s teams in the middle of ECAC standings. (ECAC is the conference that the hockey teams play in and includes Cornell, Harvard, Dartmouth, Brown, Princeton, Yale, Quinnipiac, Union, RPI, Colgate, Clarkson, and St. Lawrence.) This past weekend Harvard and Dartmouth came to visit Lynah Rink, considered by some to have the best atmosphere in college hockey, and things played out in exactly the opposite way than we expected.
Harvard and Cornell have a rivalry that goes back decades, but this season Harvard is several places ahead of Cornell in the standings, and they’re nationally ranked. As much as we wanted a repeat (or better) of last year’s 3-2 overtime victory during the last home game of the regular season, we were prepared for disappointment. Well, we didn’t get it that night.
I had enough points to secure a spot to attend the Harvard game Friday night, so a little under an hour before game time, I found myself in Lynah with the pep band. We played our pregame sets, “Knights of Cydonia” before lineups, the Canadian and American national anthems, lots of Davy (the fight song), and “Seven Nation Army” right before puck drop.
The first period ended tied, with both teams playing reasonably well. Then Harvard scored in the second period on a shot that could barely be considered a shot that snuck into one side of the goal. All was not lost, however, because Cornell not only scored a goal of their own, but another one on top of that to make the score 2-1.
Between the second and third periods, the band played the Alma Mater and “España,” then settled in to watch the last period. A few minutes into the period, Harvard tied the game. With less than a minute to go, the score remained tied. And then it wasn’t. Sometimes there’s a build up to a goal, where one team is getting so many shots or the goalie is just barely making saves, that you know there’s a goal coming. This time, Cornell got into their offensive end, a Cornell player took a shot, and it went into the net. Lynah went crazy, and the band went home happy.
The next night, Cornell took on Dartmouth, who is right below us in the standings. Things didn’t go so well. To summarize, we lost 5-2. I guess it’s true what they say: you win some, you lose some.