As Grace Hopper College undergoes the renaming process, students see the change in the namesake of their residential college as a chance to reverse its historically low performance in intramural sports.
After two years of lackluster performance by Calhoun College sports teams — 11th place in 2015 and eighth in 2016 — Calhoun found itself dead last in the intramural standings at the conclusion of the fall season. But with the Calhoun name gone, the college has a chance at redemption under the namesake of Rear Adm. Grace Hopper GRD ’34, who, according to Hopper students, may inspire the college to compete in intramurals with more vigor.
Still, Hopper students said their college currently lacks a strong culture of intramural participation, making a comeback unlikely for the college with the longest active drought in Tyng Cup championship history.
“Hopefully people will play more IMs given this name change,” Hopper IM secretary Carolyn DeSchiffart ’18 said.
Although Hopper currently stands in last place across all 12 residential colleges, two Hopper freshmen — Vikram Shaw ’20 and Joshua Perez-Cruet ’20 — have tried to pull Hopper higher up the ranks.
Perez-Cruet expressed optimism about the future of IMs in Hopper — a future he believes he and Shaw are instrumental in shaping.
“This is a time of transition,” Perez-Cruet said. “It’s given us a rare opportunity to focus on our culture and who we believe we are.”
For Perez-Cruet and Shaw, this new culture is sure to include enthusiastic intramural participation. Perez-Cruet said he will begin by encouraging other members of his freshman class to join, but added that upperclassmen need to get involved as well. Shaw also shared in the optimism.
“I think that Hopper IMs have a lot of potential,” Shaw said. “We have a lot of raw talent, and I think with the proper communication, enthusiasm and off-season moves such as buttery bucks, we can propel ourselves to the top of the IM totem pole.”
Though the college came in last place for several consecutive years, Calhoun ended in 11th place in the 2014–15 season. This second-to-last finish, which Head of Hopper College Julia Adams called “already fantastic,” was followed up by an eighth-place performance in the 2015–16 academic year.
Last year’s season was highlighted by an undefeated women’s IM squash team and championship appearances by some of the Calhoun men’s and women’s basketball teams. But even more impressive to Adams was the absence of forfeits during the spring season. An eighth-place finish for one of the smallest colleges at Yale was considered a great success, she said.
However, this success did not carry into the following year. After IM secretary Kate Bradley ’17 stepped down from her position, no one initially responded to the call to be intramural secretary, according to DeSchiffart. The Calhoun College Council sent several emails to Calhoun students before three students — DeSchiffart, Sonal Shrivastava ’19 and Alyssa Amick ’19, a copy editor for the News — took the paid position in mid-October.
“No one else was going to do it,” DeSchiffart said.
In their past few months as IM secretaries, DeSchiffart, Shrivastava and Amick have tried to incentivize members of the college to participate in IMs, according to Shrivastava.
On Feb. 12, the IM secretaries announced that students could earn buttery credit for participating in Hopper IMs. They also expressed excitement about the name change and the potential for an athletic revival within the college.
“We are so excited about this name change, and what better way to celebrate than to come to the first IMs ever of Grace Hopper College!” the email said.
However, students were skeptical of whether the name change will have a significant impact on the college’s intramural performance going forward. Participation has increased this semester, but this uptick could have been caused by either the new name change or the change in sports offered, Shrivastava said.
Hopper student Vivian Dang ’19 noted that IMs are not as much part of the Hopper culture as they are for other colleges, and older Hopper students agreed. Still, the fate of Hopper intramural sports hangs in the balance, and students said the future of Hopper IMs is up to the freshmen.
“The freshmen come in excited about IMs,” said Amy Kolor ’18. “Then they realize how much time it takes to forfeit IMs.”
Timothy Dwight has won 11 Tyng Cup championships since Calhoun’s last victory in the 1975–76 school year.