This Saturday, at approximately 10:25 am, 105 Yale football players will be huddled beneath the Walter Camp Arches, preparing for the last game of the season against their historic rivals. All week we have seen the buzz and excitement on campus, received support from our professors, and felt the anxiety of the student body. However, these arches represent something much greater than anything seen or heard on campus. They represent the beginning of a sport, the dedication of tens of thousands of Yale football players, and the tradition of one of the most revered football programs in the country. The importance of The Game is deeply rooted in the hearts and souls of every man who has walked through these arches. Each player carries the responsibility of this game for not only himself, but also for every player that has come before him.
Every student on campus came to Yale with an extraordinary passion for something outside of academia. What makes this university special is the opportunity to enrich the lives of others with those passions while further developing our own. We came to Yale University with a passion for football that has grown during our four years here through the countless number of hours spent in the weight room, the daily 6 am wake-up calls for practice, and the blood, sweat, and tears required of every team member. Despite everything that we have done for this sport that we love, we only have ten opportunities a year to display our passion for this game. Each one of these opportunities is a measure of our dedication. It is a reflection of the 105 men who have worked as a unit all off-season, the coaches who spend a countless number of hours creating game plans and putting a group of men together who can win, and the trainers who prepare our bodies for the daily grind required of the sport.
This is a unique game in that athletes may dedicate years of their lives to it, but the decision to leave the sport is a final one. This game cannot be played recreationally. One cannot get a group of 22 men on a field and play the game of football the way it will be played on Saturday. And for this reason it makes it a special moment for us seniors. While this group of seniors has become smaller over our four years here, we have transformed from a group of thirty awkward freshmen to a family that has forged memories that will last a lifetime. We came in not knowing what it really meant to be a Yale Bulldog, and we leave here with the distinct honor of passing along that knowledge to the next group of men that will wear the Y on its helmets.
So for the musician, the singer, the artist, and the chemist, we hope that your passion you shared with Yale will remain with you for years to come. For us, this game will come to end on Saturday, in a unique, bittersweet moment, as we walk away from the Bowl through the Walter Camp Arches to eventually take off our shoulder pads and cleats for the last time. We won’t take them with us in a hope to put them on again, but as seniors we will take away from Yale something just as special: the relationships we created in our four years here and the memories and lessons that come with each victory and defeat. Even when our days of football are long behind us, that passion we have for the game will remain with us for the rest of our lives. That passion will drive us to succeed in many different walks of life. That passion will drive us to be influential figures in our communities. And that same passion will bring us together again to witness the next group of men carry on the historic tradition of Yale football.