If you watched Syracuse University’s men’s basketball this winter, you understand the powerful impact college athletics can have on a region. The team’s record captivated even non-fans, and everyone enjoyed the camaraderie of water cooler play-by-plays after each game.
Luckily for us in the Finger Lakes, the cheers for local college sports – ranging from women’s softball to men’s lacrosse and more – don’t end with March Madness. Nor does a team have to be full of NCAA Division I superstars to earn a following.
Elmira College, for instance, a 160-year-old private, coed liberal arts college in the Southern Tier, fields a variety of teams for men and women including NCAA Division III baseball, basketball, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, volleyball, cheerleading, cross-country, field hockey and softball. Last year, the softball team finished the season 25-14 overall; 14-1 at home and 8-4 in the Empire 8 Athletic Conference (that includes teams from other Finger Lakes colleges including Nazareth, St. John Fisher, RIT, Geneseo and Hobart & William Smith). While it ties for the most wins by an Elmira College athletic team ever, it ranks first in the college’s record books for games, wins, at bats, hits, RBIs, putouts and fielding percentage
There’s no better time in the Finger Lakes than spring to watch a game outside. You can feel the sense of community among the fans from nearby cities and towns who turn out to root for their home team. In fact, psychologists say that sports fans who see each other as having something in common may be more likely to work together on community projects and solve community problems. Studies also show that long-lasting personal and business relationships can grow from a shared passion for sports.
So support your local college team. You’ll love watching the competitiveness, teamwork, physical activity and challenge; and enjoy being with others who share your enthusiasm for sports.
by Kyle Reynolds