After only one round of votes by members of the football team, left tackle Rory Hennessey ’05 was swiftly elected the 127th football captain Friday.
Hennessey is an accomplished offensive lineman who has been named first team All-Ivy and All-New England, in addition to being honored to the third team I-AA All-America.
Hennessey said winning an Ivy League Championship is his number one goal for the team.
“We can improve everywhere, Hennessey said. “Our strength is that we will be an experienced team that plays hard and with confidence.”
The new captain said there is a proliferation of strong players who have the skills to lead the team to victory.
“We have leaders at every position: Ralph Plumb with the receivers, Jeffrey Mroz, Alvin Cowan, Rob Carr in the backfield, Matt Lesniak, Tony Bellino, Dicky Shanor on the o-line, Bryant Dieffenbacher, Willie Cruz, Andrew Ralph, Nick Campbell on the d-line, Ben Bruenig, Kenny Estrera at linebackers, and Barton Simmons and Andrew Butler in the secondary,” Hennessey said.
Head coach Jack Siedlecki praised Hennessey’s ability to balance an aggressive, vocal leadership style with genial charm.
“He is not shy about telling a teammate to pick up the pace on the field or in the weight room. Probably one of [Hennessey's] most admirable personality traits is his ability to be an intense driven athlete on the field and an easygoing, friendly person off the field,” Siedlecki said.
Hennessey will benefit from the experience of returning former captain and quarterback Alvin Cowan ’05.
“I told Rory to make sure and prioritize things — when you’re the captain, you have so many people pulling you so many different ways,” Cowan said.
Hennessey clearly commands the respect of his teammates.
Special teams member Tyson Crawford ’05 praised Hennessey’s dedication.
“He is always the first one there and the last one to leave, whether in be in the weight room, practice, or games.”
Crawford remembers a ferocious fight in the 2003 game against the University of Pennsylvania when Hennessey was pivotal in motivating the team.
“We hadn’t played a very good first half and were behind at half time when [Hennessey] came into the locker room yelling and screaming and really got everyone pumped up,” Crawford said. “We came out and played a great second half and took the game into overtime.”
Hennessey’s enthusiasm is relentless. Running back David Knox ’06 said Hennessey’s encouragement was especially uplifting after Knox sustained a debilitating groin injury.
“After you have to sit out people are not as happy to see you, but Rory was always like ‘Knox, how you doing! Knox, when you coming back!’” Knox said.
Backup quarterback Jeff Mroz ’05 also applauds Hennessey for his contagious can-do attitude.
“I think the team can feed off his leadership,” Mroz said. “Rory hates to lose and will do anything to win. He doesn’t want to let his teammates down and likewise doesn’t want to be let down by them. His desire to win is contagious. He is the best captain we’ve had here in a long time.”
Teammates admire Hennessey for his genuine nature.
“[Hennessey] does not tolerate slacking off, but he is the first to congratulate you on any of your successes,” offensive lineman Ed McCarthy ’07 said.
Although the captainship will present new challenges, Hennessey’s proven prowess has already secured his teammates’ confidence.
“He’s a hard worker. He’s been starting since freshman year and so he’s going to be out there working hard like everyone else and I don’t think his new position will change that,” tailback Rob Carr ’05 said.
Defensive end Don Smith ’05 said Hennessey has the respect of everyone else on the team.
“There were a bunch of people who would make really good captains, he just happened to distance himself with his dedication,” Smith said.
Hennessey is expected to implement positive change. Knox said he hopes Hennessey can rally for new blue and white tennis shoes because “a team that looks good, plays well.”
Stylish shoes or not, Hennessey’s established reputation as an effective leader bodes well for future football success.