My Sister-in-law, Rhonda, My Father, and Cornell Basketball

9 Mar


This is a picture of my sister-in-law Rhonda at the Newman Arena at Cornell.  We were attending a Cornell-Harvard game.  The score ended up 67-64, Harvard, so it was pretty exciting.  Basketball has tended to be a big part of my family’s extracurricular life and Rhonda has definitely channeled that spirit.

She had on her red cowboy boots and her red Cornell T-shirt, which she wore to the last two games.  Barth was also sitting there in a red Cornell T-shirt, but he never turned around for me to take another picture.  I think he was afraid I might ask him one of my many questions about what was going on. Rhonda also has a “Linsanity” shirt that I gave her, but she thought it might look like a sign of disloyalty, so I haven’t seen her wear it yet.  Some of the Cornell students had an ugly poster of Jeremy Lin who previously played for Harvard.  I’m not sure what that was supposed to mean, since he now plays for the Knicks, a New York team, and they should be rooting for him.  Rhonda has become of fan of his, an interest that originated in the fact that she watched him at the Cornell-Harvard games.  In fact, Rhonda has become a super basketball fan.

It was Senior Night and Chris Wroblewski’s (3) scored 19 points for the Big Red in this his last game as a Cornell player.  I tease Rhonda about Eitan Chemerinski (55) possibly getting involved with Anna, my niece who’s at Harvard, because of their mutual interest in languages.  Anna is learning German, her third foreign language now.  Eitan supposedly knows six. Eitan had two steals and was much more alert than in the last couple games.  His coach describes him as being cerebral. He scored 9 points in his last game for the year.  Max Groebe (11)  has been my niece Meghan’s personal favorite, but she won’t be seeing him anymore since he’s a senior.  Despite that, with such strong freshmen, Cornell is likely to get even better.

The game was also very physical, which pleased the coach, Bill Courtney, as he later told us at the Rebounders get-together after the game.  At one point, Galal Cancer, who wears the number “1” for Cornell, took his hand and pushed the chest of a Harvard player so that the poor guy ended up on the floor.  I may have missed something earlier that caused him to do that. However, the Harvard players were just as tough with us. [Ben Muggeo from my writers’ group has an interjection here:  “Your sentences are perfect, but you don’t know anything about basketball.  Basketball is a contact sport.”  Suitably chastened, I move on.]

Rhonda’s interest in the Cornell (her alma mater for her MS) basketball team grew out of her following of her other alma mater, Purdue, and their women’s basketball program.  She even contacted the Purdue’s women’s coach during the time they were following that team so closely.  Barth and Rhonda didn’t have television, so they would go to her mother’s house where there was cable TV or stream the Purdue games with her computer.  She herself was a swimmer at Purdue, the other “tall persons’ sport,” so I was not sure at first exactly how she got interested in basketball.  It turns out that she accompanied her father to Purdue basketball games when she was growing up.

The Mapes family’s love of Cornell basketball goes back to the late sixties when Greg Morris was the top player and Cornell was second only to Princeton in college basketball in the Ivy League.  See comments on Greg Morris at the “Celebrating Black History Month” website : Greg Morris was a shorter player who had a great jump shot and was quite exciting to watch.  Two of his fellow players included Hank South and Walter Esdale.  The website tells about a game that may have been the highlight of Morris’s career where the Cornell team played Kentucky, then ranked the third college team in the country. As Alex Searle states, “An integrated school from the Ivy League had no business playing on the Coliseum floor.  The Ithacans were not going to win, let alone keep the score close.”  Instead Greg Morris racked up 37 points and Cornell won 92-77.

The family story on my father as a Cornell spectator is that once he yelled at a ref at a Cornell game for making a mistake and the ref changed his mind.  His yelling at the Cornell games was startling and I was sometimes worried that we would get thrown out, but his “fandom” was put to good purpose. Together with several other couples, including their friends, the Brumsteds,  Mary and Dave Curtiss and Carl and Jeanne Gortzig, my parents helped to form the Cornell Boosters’ Club back at that time.  Now my family has joined the Rebounders (the new boosters’ organization) and Bill Courtney, the coach, refers to us as “the originals.”  Rhonda’s interest has helped to bring our family’s interest in Cornell basketball back to speed.

2 Responses to “My Sister-in-law, Rhonda, My Father, and Cornell Basketball”

  1. claireaperez March 9, 2012 at 9:51 pm #


    I really enjoyed this story. For several seasons my friend, my husband and I would go to Cornell games. It is great fun in the winter to go in to so much excitement and light when it is so dark outside, and cold. We watched Mr. Donahue’s games mostly, in the beginning the seats were empty and by the last two seasons, we could barely find one to sit in.

    Also, my next door neighbor from childhood played a couple of seasons at Cornell.

    Glad to see your sister-in-law is keeping basketball fever alive…gotta love the red shoes:-)

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