On Saturday, offensive lineman John Oppenheimer ’14 will emerge from the tunnel and enter the Yale Bowl in front of thousands of fans. The News sat down with Oppenheimer to discuss the emotions and energy that accompany playing in The Game.
Q. What does The Game mean to you?
A. The Game means a lot to every guy on the team, especially the senior class. Just knowing the tradition behind it. It’s an honor to be playing in it on either side. This is the game that each side is looking forward to all year. It means a lot to every single player … It means so much to our seniors to go out on top.
Q. How has your football career evolved at Yale and what has the journey been like?
A. I started playing on the defensive line my freshman year and moved over to the offensive line [and then] to center in the spring of my freshman year. It’s started to mean more and more each year knowing that I will have less football to play each year. Realizing how many snaps I have left — it really doesn’t hit you until the end of your junior year — but it’s surreal how your career is coming to an end. I just had my last full practice today and it makes me want to leave everything on the field and since I’ve grown so close to my teammates it just makes me want to play that much harder for the team.
Q. What will it be like to walk out into the Yale Bowl for the last time playing the Crimson?
A. It will be very emotional. It is senior day on Saturday. Knowing that we are playing our last game, it will be a crazy game. On Sunday we will no longer be football players and we will never play another snap in our lives, so we want to leave everything on the field.
Q. What are you looking forward to most about The Game 2013?
A. The thing I’m looking forward to the most is heading out of the tunnel with the seniors for the last time. You get 20 shots to play in the Bowl and there is nothing like it. I’m excited to play in front of 50,000 people for the last time in the Yale Bowl.
Q. What is your best Yale football memory?
A. This year when we beat Cal Poly. They were No. 18 in the country and no one was giving us a chance. We flew across the country to play a team that has consistently been ranked. We beat them up in all three aspects of the game and really sent a message with that game. We really embraced the underdog mentality most and played every play like it was our last. It’s been our model for what we are trying to do this year and for years to come.
Q. What is your favorite part about the O-Line?
A. The guys. We are really close. We spend so much time together and our effectiveness depends on our cohesiveness. We have a lot in common and like to joke around, and I just love to be around these guys. Everyone on the team is close together, but you spend more time with your position than anyone else. I’m sure everyone has it, but it’s definitely evident on the O-line.
Oppenheimer is an economics major in Berkeley College. Upon graduation, he will be moving back to the Bay area, where he will work in marketing for a technology company.