On Friday, fans of Yale football got their first glance of a scene that will be commonplace come next fall: head coach Tony Reno surrounded by members of his team. But the setting was not the Yale Bowl.
Reno held a Master’s Tea in Davenport on Friday as part of his initiative to bring together the football team and the student body closer together.
“At any football program that is successful, there’s a connection between the college and the school,” Reno said. He added that he wanted the team to be involved not just in the community at Yale, but also in New Haven.
Davenport students on the football team — including offensive backs Collin Bibb ’13 and Chris Brady ’14, outside linebacker E.J. Conway ’15, defensive end Dylan Drake ’13 and offensive lineman Evan Ellis ’12 — all accompanied Reno.
At the beginning, Reno stressed how important the residential college system is, both for the football team and the college itself. He added that he shows recruits the residential colleges and holds a dinner for them to meet masters and deans during their official visits.
The focus of the talk then switched to the football program.
“What you’re going to see on the field is a group of players who play the game the right way,” Reno said, adding that the team will play with a fast, aggressive style that pressures the opposition on defense and keeps them on their heels with a no-huddle offense. That offense will be a departure from the scheme former head coach Tom Williams employed, but will resemble the attack that Harvard used to devastating effect in its 45–7 victory at The Game last fall.
The talk then transitioned into a panel discussion, with the few members of the audience — less than a dozen people attended — asking questions of Reno and his players.
When asked how the residential colleges could help the student-athletes get more out of their Yale experience, Drake recommended planning events in line with the athletes’ schedules.
“The biggest thing is that a lot of the weeknight study breaks and social events are … a little late when we’re trying to get our school work done and have morning lift,” Drake said. “I feel like that’s one of the things that I miss out on: the opportunity to go down and socialize with my fellow Davenport classmates and some of the younger students that aren’t athletes, because the athletes kind of run in the same circle.”
Davenport Master Richard Schottenfield ’71 and Drake then discussed how moving college-wide events to earlier in the evening or opening the college’s buttery at 9:00 p.m. instead of 10 would allow for more interaction between all Davenport students.
In response to an audience member’s question, both Reno and his players shared their views about what makes an ideal coach.
“First, of all I am ultra-competitive, [so] I need someone who hates to lose,” Bibb said. “For how much people care about Yale football … there’re just too many people that have put in effort to the season to have someone that will tolerate not giving 100 percent.”
Reno said the most important quality in a coach is integrity.
Reno and the Elis will take the field March 28 for the first spring practice of 2012.