Syracuse, N.Y. — When Amanda Cramer decided it was time to make peace with her homesickness, she knew just where to turn.
Her mother, Caroline, was a gymnast at Cornell. So were two of her aunts. Her uncle wrestled in a Big Red singlet.
“It’s in my blood,” Amanda said of the school.
And now, Cornell is the new setting for her college lacrosse career,
Cramer, a junior midfielder out of Fayetteville-Manlius, is enjoying a seamless transition there after transferring from Northwestern. Amid a backdrop of so much coronavirus-inspired uncertainty, the comforts of (almost) home have seldom been so valued.
“It’s definitely tough to leave Northwestern,” Cramer said. “I think it’s just been tough because we’re not completely back to normal here (with practice restrictions). But we’ve slowly been able to do more stuff. I’m definitely excited for when we can practice together as a team.”
Based on Cramer’s resume, the Big Red should be just as eager to see her lacrosse potential continue to emerge.
Cramer was a dominant player for the Hornets, winning Syracuse.com’s player of the year honors as a senior. In five years on the varsity, she piled up 200 goals and 77 assists.
Cramer said she looked at Cornell coming out of high school but decided she wanted to give the powerhouse program at Northwestern a try. She played in 17 games in her freshman and abbreviated sophomore seasons at Northwestern, registering a goal and six assists along with four ground balls, two caused turnovers and a draw control.
“It was definitely an adjustment at first. But I think overall I did OK,” she said. “I think the hardest part about coming in is having confidence in yourself when you’re playing against some of the best players.”
Cramer’s athletic heritage strongly hints that she’s up to the task. Her father, Rick, played lacrosse at Syracuse. Her brother, Max, is a freshman lacrosse player at Division II national contender Le Moyne.
But a lot of intangibles go into the comfort level necessary for the blossoming of a college career. The distance between Chicago and Syracuse nagged at Cramer, especially when it limited the trips her family could make to watch her play.
“I loved all the team and I loved all the girls (at Northwestern). It was tough being so far away. I always missed home. I missed everything about home,” Cramer said.
“She was never so miserable that you had to talk her down,” Caroline recalled. “She was just never as happy as she wanted to be.”
After the coronavirus shutdown prematurely ended college athletics last spring, Cramer decided it was time to return to her backyard. The familiarity of Cornell made the appeal of wearing a Big Red jersey to strong to resist any longer.
“It’s kind of hard to know what to expect. There’s a lot of good players on the team,” she said of her Big Red outlook.
Cramer’s fit amidst her new surroundings may take awhile to define. The team is still in phase I of the school’s coronavirus practice plan, which allows for small group conditioning but no stick drills yet. The fate of the rest of fall and winter work — much less the regular season itself — remains murky.
“I think we’re headed in a good direction. I guess we’ll have to see how winter goes,” she said. “I’m pretending that we’re finally going to have a season, even if we don’t know. I feel like everyone has to stay optimistic. There’s not another option.”
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Lindsay Kramer is a reporter for the Syracuse Post-Standard and syracuse.com. Got a comment or idea for a story? He can be reached via email at LKramer@Syracuse.com.