On Saturday, the Yale Police Department dueled Delta Kappa Epsilon brothers, Yale Law School students, Yale College freshmen, and a band of firefighters in an unlikely arena — Payne Whitney Gymnasium.
The second annual Battle of the Badges to raise money for breast cancer research pitted teams from fraternities, local public safety agencies, and the community against members of the YPD in a bench press competition. The event drew 24 teams of three people to the Brooks/Dwyer Center at Payne Whitney Gym Saturday morning, with a team from the New Haven Fire Department named overall winner.
“Fighting breast cancer is such a great cause,” YPD Chief Ronnell Higgins said. “Something like this brings the [various law enforcement] departments together, and it’s an opportunity for community building as a whole.”
Higgins admitted that some encounters between the frats and the YPD over the years have had an adversarial flavor, but he said that the weight lifting competition gave the two groups a chance to work side-by-side.
The competition divided the teams into three groups: a fraternity/sorority division, a open division and a public safety division. The teams were assessed based on the total number of repetitions they completed while benching a set percentage of their body weight — 75 percent for men, and 50 percent for women. The winning team from the NHFD included one member who did 70 repetitions.
Higgins, who was part of team “Top Gun,” said he completed 17 repetitions while lifting 200 pounds.
Sgt. Jay Jones, one of two YPD organizers, said that the event drew a few more participants than in its inaugural year. Jones applauded the participants’ commitment to the cause and said he enjoyed competing against a diverse field.
“We got to fraternize with the fraternities,” he said.
Two members of the “Yale LBs,” a team of varsity linebackers that placed second in the open division, said they were impressed with the Saturday morning turnout.
Linebacker Brian Leffler ’13 and Higgins both said there was no awkwardness in competing against police and other law enforcement officers.
“I think there’s a mutual respect between law enforcement officers and football players,” Leffler said. “I think we also like competing against officers and professionals instead of other college athletes. It’s something different because we’re always competing against each other.”
Although the teams were competing for a good cause, the competition was still heated.
The Yale Law team of Adam Hockensmith LAW ’12, Javier Zapata LAW ’12 and Manuel Giner LAW ’12 took top honors in the fraternity/sorority division with a combined 125 repetitions. The Law School trio beat out two other teams in their category, and shocked contestants by finishing second among all three divisions.
“Those law school kids, they’re sneaky small — you never can count them out,” said Will McHale ’13, a member of the linebacker team. “I mean, who would have thought the Law School kids would beat the three upperclassmen DKE brothers?”
The event was created in conjunction with the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association’s Pink Zone, said Queen Smith, an assistant coach for the Yale women’s basketball team and an organizer for the Battle of the Badges. Smith said that the fundraising initiative was created in honor of former North Carolina State basketball coach Kay Yow shortly before she died of breast cancer in 2009.
Although the YPD supported the Battle of the Badges, its members organized the event on their own time, Lt. Joseph Vitale said.
The winners of each division received trophies at half-time of the women’s basketball team’s Saturday night game against Dartmouth.