Committing to play Yale football was the best decision I have ever made. When I walked on campus for summer workouts, I was a lost freshman who was still trying to find his way. I didn’t know I was about to embark on a life-changing journey and meet people who would affect my life forever.
This season has truly been something special. I’ve been playing organized football for 12 years and played with three different teams, but I can honestly say that I’ve never been a part of a team like Team 145. There’s no single word that describes this band of brothers, because we’re a group of 108 completely different identities and personalities. For this reason, I will always appreciate the game of football. There is truly something unique about a 300-plus-pound lineman being just as valuable to the team as a teammate 100 pounds lighter and much faster than him. While it may seem cliché, it is also true that it’s not our love for the game that makes us special, but rather our seemingly stark differences that attract us to one another.
After Yale football finished with a 3–7 record last year, many people didn’t think much of the program heading into this season. An article in the News last November titled “How Yale Lost Football” pretty much summarized that entire season. We were projected to finish fourth in the Ivy League this season, but to everyone on the team, our success has come as no surprise. The preparation for this season didn’t just start on our report day, Aug. 16. This season hasn’t been a result of raw talent being displayed each Saturday (although that certainly has helped). I can’t think of any other way to accredit our success this season other than to the relationships we players have developed with one another.
Make no mistake either — these relationships were not easily built. Our relationships were formed during grueling workouts in Payne Whitney Gymnasium, during freezing-cold spring practices on Clint Frank Field and as our coaches pushed all of us to our breaking points. These relationships are what allowed us to remain strong during tough games or when we were trailing late in the fourth quarter. Within us has been ingrained an ability to remain steadfast in the face of adversity, allowing us to overcome our challenges in each game this year.
Now we come to the final game of the season — The Game. But this game is just like any other game, for us. Fans have congratulated so many of us players for clinching at least a share of the Ivy League championship last week at Princeton. While we are very excited to bring the school its first football championship since 2006, we are far from satisfied. The last time Yale won an outright championship was 1980 — when my mother was a freshman in high school. So yes, this game is important, not only for the fact that it is the second oldest rivalry in all of college football but also that we are playing to make history. We are playing to put Yale football back on the map. As for us seniors, we want to solidify our legacy and leave a lasting impact on all of Football Championship Subdivision football with a win this Saturday.
I will forever be indebted to Yale football and everything it has done for me, and I can never repay the program for how it has shaped me. Going into my last game, I’m grateful for my memories of Yale football, and I hope to make another great one against Harvard this Saturday.
Chris Williams-Lopez is a senior in Berkeley College and a wide receiver on the Yale football team.
Chris William-Lopez | firstname.lastname@example.org