Saturday’s contest between Yale and Brown might not stand out in the schedule as a significant battle, especially with a game against league-leading Princeton just a week later. But for Yale superfan Stu Cohen, Saturday marks his 300th time watching the Elis play at the Yale Bowl.
For some, Bulldog football is merely a way to pass a few hours on an afternoon if one has time to spare on fall Saturdays. But for Cohen, Yale football is a way of life. His parents, both local fans of Yale football themselves, took a young Cohen to his first game when he was just 14 years old. Upon entering the stadium and watching the boys in blue battle on the gridiron, he fostered a love for the program and for the sport, with many of his favorite memories centered around Yale football. Since then, the Hamden resident has only missed one game.
“Stu is the greatest Yale sports fan I have ever met,” friend Chase Simino said. “He is at almost every home football or hockey game sitting in his favorite spot. I always make it a habit to stop by and chat with him at least once before kickoff or half time. He always wears Yale gear every time I see him. He is a Yale legend as far as fans go. Yale needs more fans like Stu.”
Becoming a Yale football fan was almost inevitable for Cohen, since both of his parents grew up in New Haven. His mother, who lived parallel to Chapel Street — just across from the Yale Bowl — had a brother who was a team trainer for 25 years. This uncle, Cohen said, played a paramount role in fostering his love for the team.
Discussing the upcoming Yale schedule and roster with his uncle during family holidays are some of Cohen’s fondest memories. One year, his uncle mentioned that a trio of talent — quarterback Brian Dowling ’69 along with receivers Del Martin ’69 and Bruce Weinstein ’69 — would be a dangerous offensive arsenal for the Elis. Dowling and Martin ultimately connected in the end zone to beat Harvard in 1967 on a nasty overcast day in New Haven — Cohen’s favorite Yale football memory.
“We just grew up with [Bulldog athletics] being special,” Cohen said. “The whole family, we all loved it. My father had two brothers who went to Yale. It was just always there. It was a big part of fall. We looked forward to it valways. I’m still just as enthused about it as ever. Every Saturday I cannot wait to get to the game.”
Cohen worked as an usher at the Yale Bowl from 1973 — the first year that the New York Giants called New Haven home after ongoing renovations to their home stadium — to about 1998.
Now that he is retired and his children have grown up, Cohen said that he is able to attend and support other Yale sports teams in addition to football. He is a season ticket holder for men’s hockey and traveled to Gillette Stadium this spring when the Yale men’s lacrosse team downed Duke to win its first NCAA Lacrosse National Championship.
A collector of Yale football memorabilia, Cohen has kept over 200 of his ticket stubs including his very first from 1964 when Yale faced off against in-state rival Connecticut.
Cohen and his love of Yale athletics has not gone unnoticed by other fans. An active member of the “Yale Football Family and Fan Page”, he posts his post-game reactions to recent contests and shows off his souvenir items collected over the years.
“One of the unique things about Yale, because of the community-based environment here and because of our location, we have so many fans here who have grown up with Yale football,” head coach Tony Reno said. “It’s really unique in the Ivy League. There’s not any other school who has what we have here. When you hear stories like [this], it makes you proud to be a part of this really unique group of people.”
Yale Athletics will honor Cohen’s 300th game during Saturday’s contest against Brown at the Yale Bowl.
Cris Zillo | email@example.com .