What Makes a Game

What Makes a Game

There are things more important than final scores and championship trophies.
Published: July 11, 2021


Photo collage from left of a man playing kickball, headshot of Bri Stahrr, group photo at a bowling alley and a boy playing football.
From left, a man plays kickball, a headshot of former Syracuse lacrosse player Bri Stahrr, a group photo from a Unified Sports bowling outing and a boy runs the football during a Will Hone Your Skills program.

When you think about Syracuse sports, what comes to mind first? On top of the hill, visible from the highway, is the city’s most recognizable athletic venue. Inside the Dome are championship banners and retired numbers spanning several lifetimes and legacies, with room to grown.

For those who are new to Syracuse sports, here is a very brief and incredibly selective history. When most people think of SU athletics, basketball and football come to mind first.

Orange football was less than extraordinary last season, but that doesn’t discount the fact that the program has fostered some of the sport’s biggest groundbreakers. Ernie Davis, the first African American recipient of the Heisman Trophy, is only one of those athletes. He shared No. 44 with two more greats of the game, Jim Brown and Floyd Little, before it was retired by Syracuse.

Jim Boeheim has been at the helm of the men’s basketball team since 1976 and has led the Orange to the NCAA Tournament 35 times throughout his coaching career, including three national championships. Carmelo Anthony not only has his retired number hanging in the rafters of the Carrier Dome, but one of Syracuse’s most famous alums has the basketball practice facility named after him.

As for the women’s team, the Orange have appeared in 12 NCAA Tournaments but have yet to win a championship game. Two former Syracuse women’s team members, Brittney Sykes (the highest-drafted player in program history) and Kayla Alexander (Syracuse’s all-time leading scorer) have made it to the pros. Recent graduate, Tiana Mangakahia, the program’s all-time leader in assists, signed with the Northside Wizards in the NBL1, a professional league in her home country of Australia.

Syracuse athletics has 15 national championship trophies. Ten of those titles came from one sport: men’s lacrosse. The Orange have been a perennial powerhouse in college lacrosse, and now one of the greatest players in the men’s game, Gary Gait, has taken over head coaching duties.

The women’s lacrosse team has made it to the national championship game three times – most recently this past spring – but have never won a title. The Orange have just one – yes, one – losing record in 21 years and have boasted some of the best players in the game, including Emily Hawryschuk, who was the best women’s player this season prior to a season-ending injury.

Ice hockey joined the College Hockey Association in 2008, and in the 13 years since, coach Paul Flanagan has been named CHA Coach of the Year thrice. The Orange have one national title, one Olympian alum in Stefanie Marty and a host of professional players, including all-time leader in goals scored among defenders, Lindsay Eastwood.

Syracuse v West Virginia
Buddy Boeheim and Quincy Guerrier of the Syracuse men's basketball team celebrate a win over West Virginia Mountaineers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

But that is only the history at Syracuse University. It’s lengthy and each of the Orange’s 18 teams have created an exciting reputation in the Syracuse sports scene. Within those success stories in college sports is a community that live and breathes athletics. It doesn’t take much digging to understand how deep Syracuse’s sports roots run.

Each of those sports has found success at Syracuse University. But that success has been replicated – even superseded – in local sports. From youth to high school to professional sports, an abundance of success stories have roots in Syracuse. And success doesn’t always mean winning.

As the saying goes, there are two sides to every story. In athletics, there are also two sides to every sport: what happens on the field, and what takes place off it. While we’ve fallen in love with sports because of winning records, championship trophies and most valuable players, there are important – and often untold – stories behind those tales.

A Syracuse football alum and former NFL player returns to Central New York with one goal in mind: put fun back in the game of youth football. A local Syracuse lacrosse goalie who, despite spending her college career on the sidelines, has a love of the game that can’t be beat. An organization fully centered around the relationships and competitiveness of sports brings adults of all skill levels together with myriad games and friendships. Another organization blossoms throughout Central New York, creating lifelong connections between those with intellectual disabilities and those without through a mutual love of sports.

These people and organizations have one thing in common: sports acts as a foundation for a greater purpose, even in a city steeped in sports history and excellence. In what they do, they teach us all that this world of athletics is about more than sports.

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Avatar for Alyssa Hertel

is the Sports Lead Producer for The NewsHouse.

Co Authors :

Avatar for Alyssa Hertel

is a magazine, news and online graduate student and sports lead producer for The NewsHouse.

Avatar for Alyssa Hertel

is a magazine, news and online graduate student and lead sports producer for The NewsHouse.