Stu-perfans missing a year without Yale sports
With the Ivy League canceling competition due to the pandemic, two of Yale’s biggest fans — Stu Cohen and Stu Comen — reminisce about their decades of dedication to the Elis.
Courtesy of Stu Cohen
For most casual fans of the Bulldogs, the annual Yale-Harvard football game is their only exposure to Yale Athletics. But for superfans like Stu Cohen and Stu Comen, Yale’s athletic facilities, like the Yale Bowl and Ingalls Rink, are their second homes.
Cohen, who has a lifetime pass for Yale football, went to his first game when he was just 14 years old. Starting in 1973, he ushered at the Bowl for 25 years and said that he still knows most of the ushers from across Yale’s athletic facilities. In 2018, he attended his 300th Yale football game at the Bowl.
But it is not only football that attracts Cohen to the stadium.
“Between regular season Yale football, concerts in the ’70s, soccer, the New York Giants and many Yale scrimmages and spring practices, I’m sure I’ve attended some 400 events,” Cohen said. “I had only missed one game since 1964 … because I was at Dover Speedway. … It was a tough choice.”
The Ivy League ultimately canceled all athletic competition for the entirety of the 2020-21 academic year, causing the Hamden native to have some free time on his hands.
Cohen was “especially bummed out” because he planned to bring his grandkids to Youth Day at the Yale Bowl.
“They have been to hockey games but with their Saturday activities, getting them to the Bowl has been impossible,” Cohen said.
Cohen said that he misses the friends that he sees at these events in addition to missing the actual games. With Facebook groups, however, where Cohen and his friends mostly complain about no sports and reminisce about old games and good times, they are able to stay in touch.
Although his wife, Elaine, does not join Cohen at the Yale Bowl, she still roots for the boys in blue from home.
“I look forward to Stu’s calls from the games and his Facebook updates,” she told the News.
Cohen is not the only Bulldog fan with a career-tie to the University. He is not even the only Yale superfan named Stu. Stu Comen is a chef in Silliman and an avid Yale Hockey fan.
Comen told the News that growing up in Hamden fostered his relationship with Yale from an early age.
“I was always a Yale fan, but I only started following Yale hockey after becoming part of the faculty,” Comen said. “Silliman used to be the closest college to Ingalls, so many of the hockey players came to eat dinner here.”
Comen has been working for Yale since 1979 and in Silliman since 1983.
Comen explained how he developed a good rapport with Yale hockey players because he made their dinners before watching them play. He still stays in touch with some of the Bulldogs.
“I still exchange holiday cards with Brad Dunlap [’98],” Comen said.
Dunlap was a forward on the Yale men’s hockey team.
The 2012-13 Yale hockey team gifted Comen a Yale jersey with all their signatures before they went on to win the NCAA championships. No jersey is complete without the name on the back: This one has his nickname, “Chef Stu,” along with the number 59 because of his birth year.
Comen told the News that he recently watched an ECAC game on TV, and said that “with no fans there, it wasn’t the same.”
“If there was a game, I would be there,” Comen said. “I understand that the Ivy League is education first, athletics second.”
The Eastern College Athletic Conference only includes four teams this season because some institutions opted out of competition due to COVID-19.
Melanie Heller | firstname.lastname@example.org