It’s shopping period, the semiannual contest between professors and students over who can complain the loudest. But as it so often does, sport can salvage us from our stresses and over-saturated schedules. From first years checking and re-checking CourseTable to seniors checking and re-checking their hair in the mirror for the first streaks of gray, we could all use an outlet to prepare for the semester ahead. In the waning days of August, we have the opportunity to set not-yet-broken resolutions and to make not-yet-cancelled plans. Enter your neighborly, not-yet-gray senior columnist.

Here is a bucket list of athletic(ish) activities worth your and my time this semester. As summer recedes and backpacks fill, sports can do much to create the community and camaraderie that drew so many of us here in the first place. So, take it as a challenge — and this is for myself as much as anyone — to check at least a couple of items off this list. I promise they’re worth your ever-precious time.

Sept. 2: New Britain Bees vs. Somerset Patriots. On your Labor Day off, before classes begin in earnest, consider a short road trip. 30 miles north stands the intimate New Britain Stadium, home of Connecticut’s affiliate in the Atlantic League, a professional, independent baseball league.

The Bees offer a quintessential minor league experience, with corny songs to dance to in between innings and a plethora of contests involving fans plucked from the crowd. (Indeed, if you do attend, there is a substantial possibility you will be plucked. I was.) A handful of players have Major League experience, and the Atlantic League made a pact with MLB this year to test out some wacky new rules: robot home-plate umpires, stealing first base and shorter baselines. Oh, and the tickets are $1, and so are the hot dogs. If you can hitch a ride off campus, root on the Bees as they hope to swat away the Patriots to avoid the Atlantic League’s cellar.

Sept. 9–15: Shopping for Gym Classes. Thought you were done with Phys. Ed? You can be (unlike our comrades at Columbia and Cornell), but maybe it grew on you over the years. During this week, you can shop around the different courses offered through Payne Whitney Gymnasium for free. Options include yoga, cardio kickboxing, Zumba, Tae Kwon Do and spinning. I recommend Tuesday’s salsa class to prep for Woads. (Check the Yale sports and recreation website for more information.)

Sept. 13: New Haven Grand Prix. Whether or not you have made it this far into the column, you will know when the New Haven Grand Prix is happening. First years will walk every which way around Old Campus seeking an entrance as bikes speed down High and Elm Streets for hours on end.

I can’t say I’m much of a cycling fan, but I have fond memories over the years taking in the festivities. There’s music, food stands and trucks and a commentator who somehow has to fill the air with things to say as hordes of bikers ride past.

Sept. 14–15: Go to East Rock. If you don’t make it up to New Haven’s picturesque park — whether by running, walking or biking — in the first couple weeks of school, the twin battalions of cold air and midterms will break into a charge and trample your foliage-filled dreams.

Sept. 28: Yale Football vs. Cornell. The Elis enter the 2019 season with high expectations. Anointed as the preseason favorites, they return nearly every 2018 starter including quarterback Kurt Rawlings ’20. In Rawlings’ first season, he led Yale to its first win against Harvard (at Cambridge, no less) in a decade. After a season-ending injury in October of last season, the senior is no longer an upstart, and his team is no longer an also-ran. The Bulldogs’ home opener should set the tone for the season. And against a shaky Cornell team, this could be a fun one.

Oct. 4: Yale Volleyball vs. Harvard. The volleyball team is Yale’s powerhouse, gunning for its 10th league title in 16 years. Last year, the Elis dropped only one Ivy League game and were unbeaten in the close confines of John J. Lee Amphitheater. Among the five recent graduates, two were first-team All-Ivy members, but a wealth of talent will move up the depth chart. Coach Erin Appleman has had too much success for too long for anyone to doubt the Bulldogs’ championship prospects. Usher in October by watching the blue and white pummel our Crimson foes.

Oct. 25: Women’s Hockey vs. LIU. Hockey? Already? Welcome to the Northeast. Celebrate the official midpoint of the semester watching the women’s season opener at one of the greatest college hockey venues in the country. Brand-new boards will thankfully keep the players, and you, safe. (Well, as safe as hockey could be.)

Nov. 23: Yale Football vs. Harvard. If your sporting stamina is limited, consider keeping the start of your November open. The Game may seem overhyped, but as an alleged contributor to that hype, let me contend that it is worth it; it deserves your unbridled energy. Whether football is your thing or not, this mega day will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy toward your friends just in time for Thanksgiving.

So, shoppers: This program is available to all. None of the courses call for prerequisites or convoluted admission policies — but attendance is a must.

Steven Rome |