Game days for the Bulldogs spotlight student-athletes focused on competition as they represent the Blue and White.
But they also typically feature another team of students — often athletes on other teams themselves — who support the event experience from the sidelines and stands. Student workers sign up for shifts and help with odd jobs. One can find them capturing footage during practices, hanging banners at the Yale Bowl, scanning tickets before competitions or moving equipment from the lower floors of Payne Whitney Gym back up to practice rooms after events.
This semester, the cancellation of all athletic competition has also taken away opportunities for these workers — students who value their experience for the chance to catch the action close up, watch friends play and earn a weekly income.
“There are a lot of moving parts that go into putting on a lacrosse game,” women’s lacrosse head coach Erica Bamford said. “From field preparation to equipment management, to statisticians to broadcast, to clock operators to marketing staff; I’m thankful for the hard work our full time and student staff does for us on game days.”
Student workers largely work with two different teams within Yale Athletics. Some help with strategic communications, where they produce live broadcasts of Yale’s games for ESPN+, type up event recaps or record game statistics. The majority, however, work with the internal operations team, assisting with jobs as varied as queuing music during softball events to scanning tickets during basketball games.
Many student-athletes also help out during game days for their classmates on other teams. At baseball games, for example, members of the gymnastics team often help operate the scoreboard. During crew races, women’s basketball players serve as stake boat assistants, lining boats up at the starting line. At track events, football players are on hand as event assistants, helping to assemble and disassemble equipment on each end of the event.
While a majority of the staff that work week-to-week also play for one of the Bulldogs’ 35 varsity teams, no priority is given to student-athletes and all students can sign up for gameday jobs, according to Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications Mike Gambardella.
Gambardella said the department’s operations team emails sign-up links each week to a pool of students who have either worked on events in the past or showed interest. Students then opt in to gameday gigs on a first-come first-serve basis via signupgenius.com.
The requirements for each of these jobs also differ. In order to become a lacrosse statistician, one must first attend an interview and pass a test on the fundamental rules of the sport before they are able to begin. On the other hand, little more than a simple sign-up is necessary to usher for basketball games.
Former baseball captain and pitcher Alex Stiegler ’20 worked closely with the athletic facilities department, helping to move equipment and set up for events whenever needed. Regular tasks included putting up championship banners, moving flags, designating VIP parking spaces and even assembling new basketball hoops.
“Learning how to run a large scale and constantly evolving athletics operations was an invaluable experience that I think about often,” he said.
For some, the odd jobs were a way to acquaint themselves with other sports. For volleyball player Renee Shultz ’22, working as a videographer for men’s lacrosse practices gave her an opportunity to “experience how another team at Yale operates its practices”.
“As a first year, I worked as the men’s lacrosse videographer during the spring semester, filming their practices out at Reese Stadium so that the team could use the footage for scouting purposes,” Shultz said. “Especially since I play an indoor sport, it was fun for me to spend some time outside at the field and learn more about a different sport.”
Others looked forward to working Yale Athletics events, as it was a way to earn a weekly income while supporting their friends.
During his first two years on campus, Yale baseball’s Rohan Handa ’22 was paid weekly to chase down errant balls for the field hockey team and the men’s and women’s soccer teams. He was also on hand during volleyball games, running down the lengths of the base lines wiping sweat off the hardwood floor.
“I found the experience to be incredible,” Handa said. “I enjoyed it mainly because I have a front-row seat to watch my friends. I miss it a lot because I don’t get the chance to connect with other athletes. It’s always nice to expand your horizons and build new relationships.”
The Ray Tompkins House is located at 20 Tower Parkway in New Haven.
Ryan Chiao | email@example.com