Bobby and Larry Abare ’09 know how to win.
At Acton-Boxboro high school in suburban Boston, the twins led the Colonials’ football team to four league and state titles and a combined record of 50-1. The sole loss came in the first and only game in which the freshmen twins didn’t start. This year, with Larry at defensive back and Bobby at linebacker, their success has rubbed off on the Elis as the team has realized a streak of its own — an undefeated record in the Ivy League with an overall mark of 7-1, placing the Bulldogs on the verge of clinching the conference title.
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Winning in high school does not necessarily predict victory in college. Transitions from high school to college are rarely seamless, and Bobby and Larry had to adapt to a new program as well as a demanding academic workload.
Both Bobby and Larry understood the challenges they faced before they came to New Haven.
“From an athletic standpoint, coming from A-B to Yale was a huge leap. Not only did I have to concentrate on one sport, but I also had to compete with football guys who were just as good if not better, stronger and faster than me,” Bobby said.
Recognizing the faster pace of the game and its more physical nature, the twins did not shy away from the added physical workload. Their opponents in high school generally had just a handful of talented players, but here, Larry said, they found the caliber of competition much higher than that of their A-B days. Nevertheless, they immediately rose to the challenge, sharing the honor of 2005 Special Teams Players of the Year after their rookie seasons. Their high school defensive coordinator, Roy Gallant, gave the twins advice on how to make the jump successfully.
“Our staff always tries to let the players who are going on to the next level understand that there are different ways of doing things … different ways to approach the game,” Gallant said. “Respect those differences, listen to your coaches, work your butt off and be the best teammate you can be, and your time will come. I think they learned that lesson very well.”
Meeting the physical demands of competition is an accomplishment in itself, but winning consistently requires something more. After the Elis’ uneven 2005 season (4-6, 4-3 Ivy), Bobby and Larry came back to school determined to return to their winning ways.
“I think there was a bit of a sour taste coming out of last year’s season because we knew we had a whole lot of talent but just didn’t put things together to win enough games,” Bobby said. “My mentality never really changes on the football field, but at the end of last year, I think the team’s mentality changed significantly.”
The Abares learned how to win at A-B, driven by a relentless work ethic and a desire to learn and improve. From their earliest days, Larry and Bobby were devoted to football and their team.
“I have coached for 31 years, and they are perhaps the finest teammates I have known,” Gallant said. “Not only that, they represented our program with class and character. They are even better people off the field than you see playing on the field.”
This year, the twins face new challenges with regard to handling the added pressures and responsibilities that come with their starting positions. The loss to San Diego came especially hard to the Abares.
“The more integral part you play in the game, the more you feel the loss is on you,” Larry said.
Bobby and Larry are not ones to shy away from responsibility. Teammate Jason Palumbo ’09 calls the twins “motivational players” who inspire their teammates and exemplify the intense way that Yale football should be played. Palumbo said they even approach practice with enthusiasm, as if every day were their first.
“They take the learning process seriously,” Palumbo said. “But they still have fun, which is one of the most important things to have as a player. Their passion is contagious and carries to others.”
Larry and Bobby’s attitudes certainly seem infectious, driving their teams to perform at the highest level.
“Both Bobby and Larry refused to let their team lose and their teammates play any less than all out,” Gallant said. “Some of the individual feats at A-B were amazing, but it was their drive and desire that fueled our engines for four years.”
The Abares’ attitudes toward the game and their teammates contribute to their success, but outstanding plays appear to be their forte as well. Highlights of their four years at A-B included a hard-fought victory in their third state championship, where Larry caught a touchdown to tie the game and later scored the winning touchdown in overtime. The twins have been known for their heroics here at Yale as well. Bobby scored the winning touchdown in the victory over Princeton last year, and more recently, he had an amazing three interceptions against Brown last weekend, returning one for a touchdown.
What does the future hold for the twins and Eli football? With both the Princeton and Harvard games looming and the Ivy League championship within reach, the Elis can anticipate key contributions from Bobby and Larry. If Gallant’s words are any indication, the best may be yet to come.
“Yale will come to find that they will be at their best in the biggest games,” he said.