MOUNT VERNON - The Cornell wrestling program wanted to show its appreciation through action.
So, the Rams will put on a show after showing their gratefulness to those who serve.
Cornell will honor past and present military personnel with a ceremony before Wednesday night's dual against Augustana (Ill.) at Small Multi-Sport Center, beginning at 7 p.m. Military personnel and their families will be recognized on the gymnasium floor followed by the 13th-ranked Rams (5-1) take on No. 19 Vikings (2-2).
Cornell Coach Mike Duroe said members of the wrestling team have siblings and parents in the military. The gesture seem like a perfect opportunity to pay respect to those in the service and their families for their everyday sacrifices, especially given the time of year.
"The holidays are a time to reflect and give thanks for all the things that you have," Duroe said. "I think sometimes take for granted the freedoms and luxuries we have at home and forget about them when our current military people and what our veterans have done for us in the past to ensure we can have a free and safe life."
This is a first for the Rams wrestling program, and was spearheaded by Associate Director of Athletics Dick Simmons. The hope it is well received. Duroe said he hopes they can fill the gym and make it an annual event.
"We're hoping to get a big crowd," Duroe said. "This is something we'd like to do on an annual basis. We'll see how it goes."
The sport and military life require many of the same tenets. Both demand dedication, disciplined, commitment, sacrifice, toughness and a fearless attitude. Duroe has coached athletes, who have become special operations officers. They said wrestling was beneficial to their military career.
"I think all those things," Duroe said. "I think there's a direct correlation between people who are successful in sports are successful in the military."
The Rams have won five straight duals. The dual against the Vikings holds another special meeting, because they will be competing in the same national qualifier tournament in the first year of regional tournaments in NCAA Division III."I think we have an exciting product," Duroe said about his team. "We're expecting a competitive match. (The Vikings) are a much improved team."