Well, here we are again. The last week of September. The remnants of summer are holding on for dear life, schedules are set, and the post-shopping-period panic has set in. Midterms loom, the Red Sox are choking, and fall sports’ Ivy League schedules are starting. It’s fall again.
And while some aspects of autumn’s arrival are perennial and predictable (leaves changing color, the Sawx’ swoon, RAD …) things are a little different this year. With almost a month under our belts, it’s time we reflect upon the lessons we’ve learned since Camp Yale. From athletes to non-athletes, the Flower Lady to the Poetry Lady, these are trends that affect all of our Yale experiences; as we’re thrown headlong into fall, we must keep them in mind, lest we wake up dazed and confused the morning after Harvard-Yale (which some will anyway …) having no idea where the past three months have gone …
Lesson 1: Box is the new Toad’s.
For sports fans and penny drinkers alike, newly established Box 63 has been a hit right off the bat. Admittedly, the market for a bullet-free, Yale-only spot has been ripening for months as disillusionment with Toad’s has grown. Whether it be for the pre-tailgate pregame meal or the postgame, post-pregame destination, the hot corner of Elm and Park — formerly known as the home of Bulldog Margaritas-to-go (R.I.P.) — has instituted Monday night 10-cent drinks and somehow learned to repel the Quinnipiac shuttle. Fitting for a Yale community filled with high-quality athletics, a sports bar (and grill …) has burst onto the scene. Ivy League Rookie of the Year? I think so …
Lesson 2: Yale football can score.
In between stints at “Box,” Yale football fans have had a lot to cheer about. Sure, it’s only been two games, but the Bulldogs have exploded for two 37-point showings. Pat Witt ’12 has launched an assault on the Yale record books, already throwing for five TDs and rushing for two more while moving into fourth all-time in passing yards (4,201) in Yale history. In addition to two dangerous rushers in the backfield with Witt, Alex Thomas ’12 and Mordecai Cargill ’13, four different receivers have caught touchdown passes in just two games; thanks in large part to one of them — Chris Smith ’13 — Yale is currently second in the nation in kick return average. Smith has returned six kicks for an average of 32.7 yards.
Lesson 3: Other Yale sports teams can score, too.
Wake up everybody, Yale is a fall sports powerhouse. Teams across the board have hung with or taken down big time programs already this fall — or, in the case of men’s soccer’s 7–0 obliteration of Marist last week — taken down lesser-time programs in big ways. Field hockey, who rocked Sacred Heart in dominating 9–1 fashion, held leads over top-20 teams Stanford and Albany, and lost to defending Ivy League Champions Princeton by just one goal last weekend. Volleyball took down the ACC’s Boston College while pushing Pac-12 Utah and ACC’s Maryland to the brink in games this year. Women’s soccer took Big East’s Providence to a tie in double overtime, while hanging right with two other Big East schools — Rutgers and St. John’s — in a pair of tough, one-goal losses on the road. Men’s soccer takes on No. 2 UConn tonight, and is second in the Ivy League in scoring so far at two goals per game.
Lesson 4: We are nothing without Commons dinner.
From IM stars to club sports champs, varsity athletes to recreational players, everyone who’s ever sought a late-evening, post-workout dinner can agree: we need Commons. Preface this by saying I have never tried to run for Yale College Council, and understand that people smarter than I made the decision to do away with Commons with the best intentions in mind. That said, late returns from practice and, well, “discriminatory” practices on the part of the Stiles and Morse dining halls simply do not mesh. When the pre-6:30 p.m. blockade against students from other colleges to Yale’s newest dining hall is lifted, crowds of IM players, club and varsity athletes fight their way through “Smorse” (notice I didn’t abbreviate it “Smiles” …) in a mess of hungry, violent and violently hungry Yale humanity. Gone is the ample space, ample pizza and simple excellence of Commons. Gone are the four-hour meals passed waiting for the froyo machine to work. Gone is the potential for the heroic, 7:45 a.m. to 9 p.m. “Commons Challenge,” that legendary reading week test of endurance undertaken by many and survived by few, now cut short by the end of Commons service mid-afternoon. They say you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone. Lesson learned — Commons, we need you.
It’s important to acknowledge that the Yale landscape as we know it has changed. Physically, we see a new, thought-provoking sculpture in the walkway near Thali Too (the thought provoked being “What the heck is this thing …?”), a brand new and completely architecturally consistent (…) Apple store taking its place on Broadway, and a boarded-up Bulldog Burrito as evidence of the changing times. More spiritually, Toad’s is not what it once was, Commons dinners are a distant memory, and tailgates aren’t what they used to be. But with all this changes we can take heart in another: Yale fall sports aren’t what they used to be either. So keep heading from Bass to Box, put hope in Witt and Williams, and never give up on the return of Commons dinner, because when it comes to the quest for a collection of Ivy League Championships, this fall just might be different for all of us.
Chelsea Janes is a senior in Pierson College.