Tag Archive: Sports

  1. A Sporting Chance

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    On the evening of March 14 at the University of Pennsylvania’s historic Palestra arena, the Harvard and Yale men’s basketball teams were tied at 51 in a game that would send the winner to the NCAA tournament. Then, with seven seconds left, Harvard forward Steve Mondou-Missi hit a 15-foot jumper left to pull ahead of Yale by two points.

    Yale got the ball back in time for Javier Duren ’15 to make one final drive to the net, but he missed a layup as time expired, and Yale failed to advance to tournament play, just as they had for the past 52 years.

    Ansh Bhagat ’18, who doesn’t play a varsity sport, caught up on the highlights after the game.

    “I think I just forgot about it, to be honest,” he said. “I might have been asleep.”

    Many Yale students might have had a similar experience: of 155 students who responded to a News survey, 70 percent knew the game’s significance, but only 43 percent reported that they watched it. But Bhagat and others’ relative ambivalence would have seemed out of place on campus 50 years ago.

    History professor Jay Gitlin ’71, who teaches the course “Yale and America,” recalls the sense of dejection that gripped campus in the days following Yale’s infamous 29–29 “loss” to Harvard in 1968. In the last 42 seconds of the game, Harvard scored 16 points, tying the game against a heavily favored Yale squad.

    “We were in a foul mood,” he remembers. “These things affected the mood of the campus. When it was a Yale victory, everybody was happy.”

    But Gitlin also remembers that the Yale team won a lot more than they do now.

    UConn, for example, posed no problem. “We assumed that we’d win more than we’d lose, and the teams that we thought we might lose to were more often than not, Dartmouth or Harvard.”

    But even with the football team going 8–2 this season, attendance at their games paled in comparison to the sold-out games of Gitlin’s day. This part of Yale’s culture, it seems, has been lost to history.

    Some, though, are not content to let sports slip from the campus consciousness. Ralph Molina ’16 is the president of the Whaling Crew, an organization dedicated to supporting Yale’s sports teams.

    “I think the Whaling Crew’s job isn’t done until every single sporting game is sold out,” he says. “We’ll probably never get there, but that’s the goal.”

    * * *

    In 1914, construction crews finished work on the largest amphitheater built since the Roman Coliseum: the Yale Bowl.

    Costing the University $17.7 million, the imposing concrete stadium reflected the athletic dominance of a football team representing a school that had helped invent the sport. But the administration’s efforts came too late: By the time the Bowl was completed, the Bulldogs had already won 26 out of their 27 total national championships.

    The 80,000-seat behemoth would never again see the kind of national spotlight it once enjoyed. Since then, attendance has fallen, and renovations to the stadium have reduced its capacity to just over 60,000

    Still, attendance didn’t suddenly fall off once Yale stopped winning national titles. According to Joel Alderman ’51, “It was a gradual process.” Alderman, a retired lawyer who now writes about Yale athletics for SportzEdge.com, said Yale was still a top team in his day, and the noticeable decline in attendance came in the late 1980s through the 1990s.

    Prior to that, though, sports — and football in particular — remained an important part of campus life. Gitlin emphasized the greater importance that football had in the University’s social culture when he was a student.

    “Football was part of the social calendar,” he said. “You went to football games. We dated a lot, and dating often included going to the football game and then to a dance.”

    Since then, though, student interest in sports has declined markedly.

    Last fall, the Bulldogs celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Yale Bowl with a rare contest against Army. In an extravagant pre-game spectacle, the game ball was delivered by a cadet parachuting out of a helicopter and landing at midfield. That day, the Bulldogs managed an unlikely victory over a highly competitive team.

    But the Bulldogs’ rousing win came in front of tens of thousands of empty seats. Pat O’Neill, associate director of marketing for Yale athletics, estimates that there were around 1,000 fans in attendance, a figure dwarfed by the crowds of 50 and 60 thousand that Yale games drew during the mid-20th century.

    And the Army game offers only one example: 58 percent of survey respondents said they had been to three or fewer sporting events this year.

    Alderman thinks this dip in attendance is a symptom of something deeper.

    “Sports themselves don’t carry as much meaning to the students,” he said.

    * * *

    Yale students’ attitudes towards sports have been shaped by social and institutional factors. But according to athletes and administrators alike, the most important determinant in a team’s support remains its win-loss record.

    “In my experience being here at Yale, kids are pretty educated when it comes to our sports teams,” O’Neill said. “You can’t fool Yale students. Our teams need to win and they’ll come out.”

    But since their heyday early last century, Ivy League sports in general have ceded ground to other, larger institutions.

    In 1923, Harvard, Princeton and Yale signed the Three Presidents’ Agreement, affirming that all athletes would be admitted as students and would have to conform to the same academic standards expected of others. This restriction opened the door for schools like Michigan and Ohio State to surpass Yale in athletics by using scholarships to recruit top talent. In 1945, the other Ivies agreed not to offer athletic scholarships either, clearing the way for bigger schools with millions of dollars to spend on their athletic programs.

    An Ivy League policy prohibiting postseason play further isolated the league’s teams, preventing them from participating in much-publicized bowl games.

    “A lot of the time academia and national [athletics] don’t really work well together,” said Molina.

    But some say that certain aspects of Yale itself keep athletics from flourishing on campus. Many remarked on the distance from campus to athletic facilities like the Yale Bowl, Yale Field and Coxe Cage.

    Although Caroline Lynch ’17, a member of the women’s tennis team and secretary of the Yale Student-Athlete College Council, said sporting events at Yale are generally well attended. She added that those taking place at the Smilow Field House, as opposed to in Ingalls Rink or Payne Whitney Gymnasium, tend to attract fewer viewers because of the distance from campus.

    Ree Ree Li ’16, also on the women’s tennis team, reiterated that sentiment.

    “We always have good showings for sports that are in the gym because it’s so close,” Li said. “The biggest challenge is getting people to come out for the games that are at the fields.”

    Jackson Stallings ’17, a member of the football team and the president of YSACC, said he would like to see an investment in the Yale Bowl’s infrastructure. He thinks that making seating more comfortable or adding or a jumbotron, like Cornell or Harvard have, would encourage more students to attend football games.

    O’Neill said budget constraints left no room for investment in the Bowl’s infrastructure right now. But Li said there are non-financial measures that Yale can take to show more support for its athletes. She mentioned a policy in place at Princeton that ensures classes never take place while sports teams practice, meaning athletes could take whatever classes they want. Yale’s athletes, who must tailor their schedules to avoid conflicts, do not enjoy this luxury.

    Li said she didn’t receive full credit for a course last fall semester because she had to miss class to travel to California with her team.

    Those institutional features might also bleed over into Yale’s campus culture itself: Molina said one source of student disinterest might be administrative attitudes toward sports. Since Yale can’t give athletic scholarships, he said, many feel that sports aren’t important.

    But not everyone thinks that Yale’s campus culture doesn’t support sports.Lynch, for one, said the idea that Yalies don’t support their sports teams isn’t true. Some will know more about sports than others, she added, but that can be said of any aspect of Yale’s campus life.

    If people are divided as to how Yale students feel about sports, everyone agrees that a supportive campus is vital to thriving athletic programs. And key to that support is a sense of connection between athletes and non-athletes.

    “If we can create a culture where the students as well as student-athletes are all close, people will want to go out to support each other,” Li said. “I go to plays and dance shows because I have friends that are in them. If more people have friends who are athletes, they’d be more willing to go out to games.”

    But the distance that some Yalies feel between themselves and those representing them on the field became clear in a video released by the Harvard comedy group “On Harvard Time” before the Game last fall.

    In the video, disguised Harvard students interviewed Yalies about the state of Yale’s football program and asked them to sign a petition to defund it.

    Li and Molina said it disappointed them to see how easily the actors were able to convince Yale students to publicly endorse cutting funding for the football team.

    “We have funding issues already within athletics, and to see people wanting to take money from a program that hundreds of students are a part of, I was surprised by that,” Li said.

    * * *

    If such a petition ever passed, at least two names would certainly not be on it.

    In their first weeks as freshmen, Andrew Sobotka ’15 and Hal Libby ’15 noticed a lack of support for Yale’s sports teams. They decided to take matters into their own hands.

    “The first football game had decent attendance but the second one was absolutely abysmal,” Sobtoka said. “Hal and I were shocked that on this beautiful fall day, nobody was out at the Bowl cheering on the ‘Dogs.”

    In response, the pair founded the Whaling Crew, the organization of which Molina is now president. Starting out as a small group of friends, it now has over 1,300 likes on its Facebook page.

    This year alone, the Whaling Crew has organized student tailgates, ordered pizza for fans in the student sections at home games and arranged transportation so interested students can travel to away games.

    “Before the Whaling Crew existed, there was no group to get students to come out to athletics,” Molina said. “It was just the athletics office, or through the grapevine. It’s different when you’re hearing about it from students than when you’re hearing about it from the administration.

    O’Neill said the Whaling Crew’s efforts have had a tangible effect on sports attendance, enticing more students to come out to games, and the group now receives funding from the athletics office. “We value them immensely,” O’Neill says.

    The Whaling crew also appeared in August at a new event called Yale UP!, which Molina says added to their legitimacy and increased student interest in joining.

    Yale UP!, inaugurated this year during Camp Yale, consisted of presentations made by members of the athletics department to the incoming freshman class. Students were taught Yale’s historic cheers, and the event featured a relay race between residential colleges, among other competitions. Yale UP!, a conscious administrative effort to encourage support for Yale’s sports teams, was mandatory.

    * * *

    Despite the lackluster competitive spirit of the past few decades and the eight-year winless streak in the Game, Yale sports fans have reason to hold out hope.

    The Bulldogs have seen major successes in recent years that are leading to attention on a national scale: the men’s hockey team took home the NCAA title in 2013, Yale football star Tyler Varga ’15 is competing for NFL consideration and the men’s basketball team missed March Madness by a hair. And survey data suggests that campus support is on the rise: more than a third of respondents said they were more interested in Yale sports this year than last.

    “Sports are on the up at Yale,” said Molina. “My attitude about athletic attendance on campus is not necessarily proud, but it’s optimistic.”

  2. Sports Medicine

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    Yale’s football team has 34 new freshman members this year, and most will toil in relative obscurity until they earn playing time as upperclassmen. But when Dante Chiappetta of North Haven joined the team, he got a press conference in a booth high above the Yale Bowl. While the cameras rolled, Chiappetta signed his name and committed himself to the team, then tossed a football to head coach Tony Reno in celebration. Those in attendance cheered.

    But Dante’s addition to the Bulldogs’ roster was distinct in other ways as well. The most obvious is that he is only six years old.

    Dante has cortical visual impairment and cerebral palsy, conditions that together nearly blinded him and have left him unable to walk without the assistance of leg braces. He attends physical, occupational and speech therapy daily, and can communicate only with basic words and sentences. His “draft” by the Bulldogs was arranged by Team IMPACT, a Boston non-profit that uses sports to improve the lives of children with chronic or life-threatening illnesses.

    Only a few weeks later at Payne Whitney Gymnasium, the Yale men’s basketball team offered a similarly uplifting gesture to fourteen-year-old Riley Mack. A native of Florida who now lives in Trumbull, Connecticut, Riley was diagnosed at age three with a debilitating brain tumor that has sapped his energy and health. But now, thanks to the largesse of the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation — like Team IMPACT, a nonprofit pairing sick children with sports teams — Riley wears a No. 1 jersey while he looks on at Yale men’s basketball home games.

    For kids and teams alike, the experience has been transformative. Dante’s and Riley’s parents say partnerships with the teams have given their kids energy and strength, while players say the kids’ presence helps power them through tough stretches. In an age of statistical analysis and sports by the numbers, some may be skeptical that such emotional gestures can have real returns. But if there are skeptics, those on the court or the field aren’t among them.

    According to tight end Jackson Stallings ’17, “Dante is at the center of the growth of our team” — a team that is now 3–0 to start the season.

    But the stories of Dante and Riley are more than just heartwarming. With professional sports constantly mired in scandal and players demanding multimillion-dollar salaries to play games designed to pass the time, their stories hint at questions of why we play sports in the first place.

    * * *

    Dante’s “draft” took place on Sept. 11, in the company of his father and mother, Joe and Jeanine, as well as his two brothers, Nate and London.

    “The night of the draft, it was evident from the smile on his face, from ear to ear, that he loved being the center of attention,” said Joe Chiappetta, adding that Dante has taken to the team and will be dressing as a Yale football player on Halloween.

    Stallings and defensive end Marty Moesta ’17 have been instrumental as liaisons between the football team and the Chiappetta family, but their job has been an easy one: Players say having Dante around has been completely natural.

    When asked about his role in setting up the event for Dante, Stallings was quick to offer a correction.

    “Well, it [wasn’t] really an event,” Stallings said. “We have a family-type relationship with the Chiappettas. They come to most practices and all of our home games. We have dinner together sometimes, and Dante is at the center of the growth of our team.”

    The Bulldogs’ growth has been on full display this season as they currently boast a 3–0 record, highlighted by a remarkable 49–43 overtime victory against Army. And according to Stallings, Dante’s presence has played a vital role in the team’s success.

    That sentiment — that the teams benefit just as much as the children they take in — is felt just as strongly up the street from the Yale Bowl, at Payne Whitney Gymnasium.

    That was the venue where, just a few short weeks after the football team drafted Dante on Sept. 11, the Bulldogs’ basketball roster also grew by one, and point guard Javier Duren ’15 could not be more grateful for 14-year-old Riley Mack’s presence.

    “He’s going to be able to impact us more than we can impact him,” Duren said in an interview for an article last week. “Whenever we’re feeling down, whether it’s because of practice or it’s because of games, we know that we can look at Riley for support and he’ll be there for us.”

    After head coach James Jones presented Riley with a Yale jersey bearing the number one, the team welcomed the youngster with open arms and his very own stall in the locker room where he could hang up his new Nike top. Adorned with a nameplate, the stall will be Riley’s to call his own indefinitely.

    “This relationship is for as long as Riley is alive. He’s going to have that locker in there and he’s going to be No. 1 at their games wearing their jersey,” said Denis Murphy, the founder of the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. As Team IMPACT provided the platform for Dante to join Yale’s football team, Murphy’s foundation united Riley with the Elis’ basketball team.

    If anyone understands what parents like Joe or Jeanine or Donna — Riley’s mother — are going through, it is Murphy.

    The “Jaclyn” in “Friends of Jaclyn” is Jaclyn Murphy, Denis’s daughter. Her story inspired Riley’s.

    * * *

    Jaclyn was nine years old when, in 2004, she received news that would forever change her life as well as her family’s. Jaclyn was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumor.

    But Jaclyn is now 20 years old, in remission and studying at Marist College. And neither she nor her family could have predicted that her diagnosis would change thousands of lives besides their own — and for the better.

    The Friends of Jaclyn Foundation was the Murphy family’s response to a magical relationship Jaclyn had the fortune of experiencing. The year following the devastating news of her tumor, Jaclyn happened to become connected with the Northwestern University women’s lacrosse team.

    After building a most unlikely friendship, the team adopted Jaclyn as an honorary member. Even more unlikely, the team that had been established just three years prior went on to capture Northwestern’s first NCAA national championship in any sport in 64 years.

    Inspired by Jaclyn, the team went on a run for the ages. One title would certainly have been enough for everyone to walk away happy and thankful to have witnessed such a feat.

    Instead, the team went on to win the next six national championships.

    The Murphys hoped to replicate the unique bond that only sports can produce, and in the nine years since FOJ was founded, over 500 children have been adopted by collegiate athletic programs across the country — Riley was the 520th. But Murphy says the experience will never grow old.

    “It’s hard because we’ve lost 103 children. I’m around death. People see me and they run,” Murphy said in an Oct. 1 interview for an earlier article in the News. “You don’t know how long a child’s journey is going to be, whether it’s a day or a week or a year — that’s how insidious this disease is. But one day at a time, that’s why we live in the moment and play in the moment.”

    For FOJ and Team IMPACT, the missions are one and the same: to improve the quality of life for children who have been fighting uphill battles for the majority of their lives.

    It’s hardly a surprise that sports are a key ingredient. Murphy fondly recalled the memories of his family attending practice at Northwestern, and the wondrous sensation of immersing themselves in the midst of that team’s storybook run to the title.

    For a couple of hours at a time, sports enabled Jaclyn and her family a release from the immense pressures and stresses of real life.

    Eleven years later, sports are doing the same for Riley.

    According to Murphy, Riley suffers from chronic fatigue that makes completing his physical therapy near impossible. Nevertheless, Riley played for over an hour on the court at Payne Whitney, dribbling and shooting with his new teammates with energy his mother hadn’t seen in some time.

    Though Riley’s turnaround on that day may seem inexplicable, Duren, the point guard — who has experienced the adrenaline rush of sports many a time — offered as straightforward an explanation as possible.

    “Sports can change lives, man,” he said.

    * * *

    Murphy declined to accept praise for what he has created with FOJ, noting that he’s “nothing but a brain tumor dad” trying to make Jaclyn’s vision come to life.

    Like Duren or Stallings, he doesn’t see what he’s doing as one-sided charity. Teams give something to the kids they adopt and the kids give something back, whether they realize it or not.

    All the same, Murphy acknowledged that what he does can be difficult, as is inevitable when in such an emotional and potentially heartbreaking line of work. But if you ask the players who have gotten to know Riley and Dante, the strength that such difficulty requires is what makes the relationship special.

  3. WEEKEND Does Sports

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    It’s a sportsy time of year. Yale beat Army in a classic game that we will tell our friends we were at even if we weren’t; the NFL is underway and under investigation; the MLB playoffs have started, but no one really noticed because Derek Jeter isn’t in them.

    Just look at all that sports knowledge we have! Wow. Surprising, right? You might not associate WKND with sports. It’s true, we aren’t exactly jocks. But that doesn’t mean a competitive fire doesn’t burn deep inside our cultured and sensitive hearts. WKND will compete with anyone, just not in the traditional ways. We may not be fast, but we’re quick-witted (at least we think we are). We may not be strong, but we have strong emotions, and that has to count for something, right? Anyway, what we’re saying is that WKND gets its adrenaline rush in unusual ways. So here’s a small sampling. After all, anything can be a sport if you’re overly competitive about it.

    Sport: Social Climbing

    Rules of the game: If you have to ask the rules, you’ll never win. But chances are you won’t reach the peak anyway, because, well, looks are everything. Not that there really is a peak. There’s always someone cooler than you. But here’s how to start!

    1. Throw a pregame and intentionally leave out one member of the group! It will start drama and you’ll be talked about, aka relevant.

    2. Facebook friend all the “cool kids,” then buy a disposable camera or a Polaroid and start uploading immediately. They’ll figure out how to get in them.

    3. Use your vacation home as a tool to get people to like you. Invite them over! Don’t have one? Make it seem like you do! They’ll wonder why they aren’t being invited over! Note: Never commit to any trips to your nonexistent vacation home. This will send you back to square one.

    4. Start being mean to one in four people you like. This will create a really favorable social dynamic. It will put the ball in someone else’s court, so they can climb you! (Sports joke alert, because this is a sport, and I’m sporty!)

    5. Ignore the underlings. They are like, completely irrelevant. But also this might come back to bite you. Seriously, this is the hard one because it all depends on your own judgment. What if that “smart” kid is actually a hipster? Hipsters are, like, totally in. You have to make the right call. For this one, remember what they always say, judge or be judged.

    Play this game and you too can soon be saying, “Hey! You can totally sit here!” And thinking “Tap me for Bones!”

    If you think I’m talking about someone in specific, the only response is to quote my man Gucci Mane and throw out a, “Bitch I might be.” If you think I’m talking about you, then I totally am.

    Contact Leah Motzkin at leah.motzkin@yale.edu 

    Sport: Competitive Normalcy

    Yalies are good at lots of things, but being normal is not one of them. Molecular biology, playing cello, critical discourse, Irish stepdance: So many things come so much easier to us than Normalcy does. But being Yalies, we are loath to admit that anything escapes us. This is why Competitive Normalcy would be such a draw.

    The first round of Competitive Normalness would require Yalies to sit through a Normal movie, doing Normal things like eating popcorn and texting their friends. But this would be the real bottleneck, as Yalies got caught checking their graphing calculators rather than their phones, not-so-sneakily reading Virginia Woolf on their Google Glass and emailing their professors about office hours rather than communicating with friends. Before they found out whether Katniss hooks up with Peeta, they would have already stormed out of the theater, tortured by visions of their medical degree floating out of reach while they squandered precious Friday-night hours on gladiatorial rubbish.

    The second test would also be technology-related, and it would bring the battle directly to the iPhone screen: only Normal texting, snapchatting, tweeting and Facebook posting would permit advancement in the tournament. Sliding into a hedge fund manager’s DMs with tactful inquiries about summer internships would be the downfall of more than a few Bulldogs. Creating new social media startups to compete with Facebook and Twitter is an ab-Normal pitfall worthy of expulsion. And only those with a true flare for Normalcy would successfully conquer the urge to use proper grammar in texts. These lol-ers would be the elite: certainly not Normal, but exceptional at faking it.

    A simulated classroom scenario would comprise the final round: a quiz handed back, one menacing letter scrawled in red across the top: B. Participants would be monitored for sweat secretion, heart rate spikes and tears. If they could take the grade in stride, they would be certified Normal. Yessss, they’d think, allowing themselves a moment of satisfaction before moving on to the next challenge.

    Contact Jacob Potash at jacob.potash@yale.edu .

    Sport: Watching Football

    It’s a fair question: Who’s more competitive, NFL teams or their fans? On the one hand, the players do really want to win — you have to, if you want to go out there and get concussed back to the Stone Age every Sunday for 16 weeks of the year. So the players are probably pretty dedicated. But they also get paid a ton of money, so if they lose, at least they’re still rich.

    Fans, on the other hand, have no backup plan. If their team loses, their life is ruined, full stop. The sun will never shine as bright, the birds will never chirp as loud. So the stakes for fans are pretty high. And nowhere is that more obvious than when you sit down on the couch for gameday.

    I’m not talking about opposing fans here — that would be too obvious. No, Watching Football gets competitive even between fans of the same teams. Because no one can care more than you do. It’s not possible. So if someone else curses at the opposing coach on the TV, you have to threaten him to the point that it actually gets kind of uncomfortable for people in the room. If someone screams in anguish when your quarterback throws an interception, you have to cry. If someone else drops the chicken wing they were eating when your running back fumbles, you have to flip the TV over and break it — even if it’s not yours. No, especially if it’s not yours.

    Because whether your team wins or loses, you can only win or lose if the other football fans on the couch next to you begin to doubt themselves. You can only win if they drive home after the game thinking, “Wow. Maybe I’m not such a big fan after all.” Because winning means someone has to lose. And that’s what Watching Football is all about.

    Contact Cam Lamoureux at cameron.lamoureux@yale.edu .

    Sport: Streaming Netflix

    Michael Jordan said “Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.” Seeing as the first thought to cross my mind at the mention of Jordan’s name is, “He is very tall,” I’m probably not the best person to comment on sporting endeavors. However, I can somewhat relate to the desire to just play, have fun and enjoy “the game” – whatever that may mean.

    I understand the nature of competition: There’s something I want, but someone else wants it too. For Jordan, that was NBA championships, I think. For me, it’s streaming bandwidth.

    With midterms approaching and the weight of the world on everyone’s shoulders, there is only one game I am prepared to play: competing for the title of “couch potato.” But this competition is not easy. Yale Secure is incapable of providing me with my one training tool: Netflix.

    Yesterday, “Gilmore Girls” was returned to my home screen. This was a monumental moment for me. I was ready to have fun and enjoy the “game” of an evening of idyllic Connecticut falls, commiserating over my addiction to coffee shops and falling back in love with men who wear flannel. Instead, I was faced with a terrible problem. I wasn’t the only person in this race.

    I was ready. I had prepared. I had sacrificed my standard diet to use my lunch swipe at Durfee’s and I had made sure I had my lucky pajamas on ready for the fight. Sitting at the foot of my bed, I hit play, and I waited. Would I reach the goal – would I make it to the end of one episode? Or two? Or, let’s be honest, it’s midterms, can a full season go by without interruption?

    I had to fight the competition. With everyone prying for the same streaming bandwidth to get them through the week ahead, it’s not enough to be the best prepared. It really is up to the hands of fate. On Monday, when I approach the same race, will I able to just hit play, have fun and enjoy the game? I don’t know. I guess that’s a question for a student tech…

    Contact Stephanie Addenbrooke at stephanie.addenbrooke@yale.edu .

  4. Amateur

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    Americans love sports. They don their paraphernalia — a cap, a hoodie, a proof of fandom — and sit on a couch to have one-sided conversations with their television screens. They frequent stadiums to enjoy the action mere feet away, to relax, not relax, revel in the crowd. They get their fix, paradoxically enough, by creating their own fantasy teams, virtual fiefdoms in which the average father of four can concoct and manage a perfect roster of players built from real-life athletes. They cheer, jeer, cry, harangue, fill the taverns to celebrate a victory, take to the same taverns to mourn a defeat. No matter the outcome, pride for the sports junkie, in all its expressions, becomes a take-no-prisoners mentality, a stimulant and a shield.

    The ways of the American are, naturally, not that uncommon. How could they be, when sports have been so vital, so universal to human history, ever since our Olympian forebears threw their first disc? A steadfast Red Sox fan in Massachusetts is no different from my dad back home in the Dominican Republic, whose right knee pops up every time David “Big Papi” Ortiz scores another decisive grand slam on ESPN. Forget plantains, forget rum: gifted baseball players have been the leading Dominican export of the past half-century. Accordingly, it is with baseball that I began my stormy dalliance with sports.

    Age five, maybe six. It’s a Saturday. Dad wakes me up. We’re going to take a short trip, it seems, so no “Pinky and the Brain” for me this morning. I have vague impressions of what follows next.

    In my polo shirt and khakis, I am driven to a nondescript, large terrain surrounded by low walls. I stand on a diamond of dirt, hiding behind my father’s legs as he talks to another man, the leader, I assume, of the pack of uniformed children sprinting and screaming around me so intensely. Dad takes me to the edge of the field. It takes me very few words to win this round against him. I shake my head, growing more reluctant even as he kneels down to plead his case. But, no, no, no, I say, I will not join a Little League baseball team. End of story.

    In a stab at self-validation, I did join the soccer team in third grade. We practiced every Wednesday after class. I’ll rephrase: the other kids ran back and forth along the makeshift field while I sat and observed. I regularly grabbed handfuls of soil to smear on my white shirt so I could feign the illusion of an afternoon well spent.

    Then, I tried my hand at golf, till a mishap with a 7-iron almost knocked my eye out of its socket. I never tucked away the bumpers at the edge of my bowling lane. I did a little bit of swimming. My foray into roller skating crumbled under weak ankles. The hacky sack outsmarted me. The exception, like manna from René Lacoste’s version of heaven, was the racquet. I hit those tennis balls with vigor no one ever thought I could muster. The clay courts, however, quickly bored me and the zeal vanished.

    Given my athletic record, any modicum of sports knowledge I have I gained through watching my father watch baseball on TV, or hockey or college basketball or professional basketball or soccer or, most curious of all, football. American football. Legs crossed on the living room ottoman, I spent years teasing out the logic of what I considered the most martial of sports. Men in helmets, wearing protective gear, trying to burst through the rival’s defenses in order to achieve a sense of territory.

    It never hit me. An imaginary playbook tried to form itself piecemeal in my head, to no avail. My own lack of interest made me wonder about the genesis of my father’s enthusiasm for football. Ah, well, of course, it was all that time rubbing elbows with those WASP-y chums in military school in New Jersey, and then college in Boston. Surely, I thought, this football, this fascination over a sport, was part of that addictive miasma of Americana of which we Gassós can’t get enough.

    So I stuck it out. I stayed put by the TV. If I wasn’t going to fully connect with football, then at least it could provide me with cultural exposure through osmosis, with some kind of conditioning for the bumbling soul. But it was time wasted. I learned nothing about American fanaticism, no rules, no definitions for terms like “fake punt” and “cut blocking.”

    Such futility is what dissuades me from picking up a ticket to The Game this Saturday. Year after year, The Game — that alleged zenith of school unity and “bow wow wow” — turns out to be one of the most alienating moments of my fall semester. It’s not the tailgate; roistering students I can handle. It’s not the blistering cold circling in the vacuum of the Yale Bowl.

    It is the feeling that, even amid all the fanfare, I am still the scrawny teenager sitting on the ottoman, failing to find myself within that collective experience, the thrill of belonging that only sports can foster.

  5. CINEMA TO THE MAX: Sports Movies That Put Points on the Board

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    With The Game just around the corner, Yale football faces an all-too-familiar problem: We’ve won just once in the last twelve years, and that was in 2006 — when I was a freshman in high school. But if popular Hollywood has taught us anything, it’s that, on any given day, anyone anywhere is capable of pulling out a win.

    Comebacks, upsets, victories, glory — these are the tropes upon which America’s greatest sports films are based, and in a way, these are the very elements of life that we should hopefully espouse. We want to succeed; we want to overcome; we want to win. With the right amount of skill, will and determination, we can turn those desires into realities.

    That’s the thing about sports movies: If you’ve seen one, you’ve about seen them all. This doesn’t mean we enjoy underdog stories any less. I’m just saying there’s a general predictability hovering over the whole concept, though that predictability is probably necessary, to be fair. After all, a film chronicling Michael Jordan’s one-man massacre of the NBA during the 1995-’96 season probably wouldn’t produce any feel-good message. And neither would any movie covering the abysmally bad 0-16 Detroit Lions or the 9-73 Philadelphia 76ers.

    The ultimate inspirational heart-warmer comes when an unproven team defies its doubters and wins the big game. Just see “Hoosiers,” “Major League,” “Miracle” (C’mon, it’s in the damn name!), or even “Rudy,” if you don’t believe me. They all follow this trajectory while representing the four major American sports: basketball, baseball, hockey and football, respectively. (I’m not including the embarrassment that is MLS.) But after a while, you have to inject some new elements to continue making compelling sports films.

    Racial prejudice usually does the trick.

    “Brian’s Song” is a good, and early, film that looks at the color divide in post-Civil Rights American sports. “Glory Road” is a more popular and recent take on the issue in the world of college basketball. But “Remember the Titans” is most people’s favorite, if only for Ryan Gosling’s awkward post-Mickey Mouse Club/pre-”Notebook” performance and Denzel Washington’s general gravitas.

    Another good recipe is to depict a sport that nobody really follows, as in “Chariots of Fire” (track) or “Breaking Away” (cycling), even if the general effect is the same. And of course, kids movies are always great. “The Sandlot,” “The Bad News Bears” (not the remake), and every other Disney Channel Original Movie are all just as good, maybe more so because the presence of little children makes the message all the more endearing. (“Brink” was directly responsible for most of my Rollerblading-related accidents as a child.)

    But the best sports movies seem to be the ones that don’t necessarily end in a victory on the scoreboard. “The Replacements” is a tremendously underrated Keanu Reeves movie in which everyone gets fired at the end. “The Longest Yard” is set entirely in prison. “Raging Bull” is a terribly depressing film about the repeated pitfalls of an extremely talented boxer. These are definitely not feel-good movies, but they are still very good.

    Sports movies are never supposed to bore us. We usually watch them because we love sports, or at least the potential for human drama that comes out through them. And when the elements come together in just the right way, whether or not our protagonists walk away with the W, we are sometimes left breathless. If you need proof, check out “Rocky.”

    The drama, the tension and the story need to be there, and if they are, you’ve got something amazing on your hands. That’s what makes sports movies great, and that’s why we all keep turning out for them, time after time. They teach us, above everything else, that there’s always hope.

    Even for Yale football.

  6. Build-An-Intramural

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    As prospective applicants, we all heard about how participation in intramurals enhances the Yale College experience. Not good enough for varsity or club? Well you can still play on the intramural team. Not even good enough for the IM level? Well maybe it’s about time you that participated in your own IM.

    Think about it: Is your upper body strength too weak to be on the varsity climbing team? Well, then, try out for the IM social climbing team. Are you feeling like you’re a bum because you’re not constantly at a sports practice? Maybe fill out your schedule and plan your meals for the next month. WEEKEND is here to show you some all-too-common “IMs” that are played around Yale’s campus, that maybe you can take part in.

    IM Napping


    Napping is a lot like grape juice, because I’ve noticed that not napping closely resembles the feeling of being really drunk on wine: wooly, woozy, warm. So it shouldn’t surprise you that some of my more “sober and judicious” friends — those are two traits my Lit professor finds I lack — well, those friends swear by their afternoon nappy-poos the way I swear by my fish oil capsules. Consider my friend David, who took a 20-minute snooze during our Econ midterm … and still did better than me.

    Napping’s a real shit show, though. David may not have gotten spittle all over his bluebook (or maybe he did), but I sure did all over the shoulder of a DOD arms dealer the last time I flew to Israel. On the way back to New York, this cult-leader type to my right folded up on the tray table and, as it turned out somewhere over Switzerland — in a moment that could have used some of that Swiss restraint I keep hearing about — that I had curled up right on this guy’s back. Purrrrr.

    But really, the WORST part of napping is when people walk by and suddenly remember their childhood dreams of being National Geographic photographers. Sure, it’s flattering to be compared to that Afghan girl with green eyes, but you know what sucks? Next thing you know, it’s on Twitter: that pic of you sprawling in the buttery. In the Sillibrary. On the floor (I have one of David napping on the floor.) So, in the spirit of sadism, the IM committee should adopt the game of (S)Napping. The rules? You earn a point for every picture you snap of someone napping. Bonus points for creativity, artistry of shot, all that jazz (plus if their mouth is open, or if it’s a professor!) On the flip side, points are deducted for every pic of a napper from your college.

    Note that the resident nappers/comfy chair hogs at Blue State are off-limits to your cameras obscura. Now that would just be cheating.

    IM Social Climbing


    Last year, my roommate spent some time with the Yale Rock Climbing Team. By mid-year, however, he’d basically abandoned the group. “It’s terrible, Aaron! You exercise for, like, five minutes straight! And then they have you hold a rope for someone, and if you drop it, they’re dead. ”

    I know just the thing. Next Thursday night, we’re going to the Study.

    As captain of TD’s IM Social Climbing squad, I was careful to reserve the Study at the beginning of the year; as a practice space, it’s miles ahead of SOM or Wolf’s Head, even before superior cocktail selection comes into play. (Skull and Bones, of course, doubles as Yale’s club Social Climbing team, though members do come by our matches on occasion.) Thursday nights, we gear up for weekend matches with grueling interval workouts: two-minute speed date, 30-second elevator pitch, martini sip, catch your breath with a casual introduction, repeat. It’s tough work, but with sterling results; TD came in second to Davenport in last year’s tournament. This year, I’ve added a cool-down round of Never Have I Ever to each practice, to prevent overtraining. We’ll be unstoppable.

    If you’re not familiar with the sport, here’s a quick rundown. Match locations are random, to avoid site-specific training: One week, it’s a rave at Box, while the next might be toasting at Mory’s or pancake night in the Stiles basement. Captains are first up for their teams in Singles play; points are awarded for first business-card handoff, the best list of summer prospects, and firmest handshake, within reason. (After the president of YIRA broke Brandon Levin’s wrist in 2010, we had to alter that rule.) Scoring criteria change slightly in couple’s play, where a careful balance must be kept between flirting with your opponent’s partner and maintaining eye, hand and/or lip contact with your own.

    My favorite aspect of IM Social Climbing is the championship match, held at the Yale Club of New York. Last year’s was a furious free-for-all in which any aspect of the environment was fair game for conversation: the view from the top floor, classy books on the shelves of the library, the butler’s bow tie. Davenport edged us out when their captain — a senior, naturally — spotted the McKinsey partner who’d given her case interview and gave him a two-armed hug. I couldn’t parry the blow, and was forced into the penalty corner for a cutting remark Provost Salovey judged to be off-color. This year, though, my wit is honed to a fine point, and with the help of my roommate — a tech entrepreneur whose father is on the board of Proctor and Gamble — I’m sure TD will assume its rightful place at the top.

    IM GCal


    Like soccer to most of the rest of the world, IM Google Calendar (or IM Gcal, for veterans of the sport) is a fan favorite and practical requirement for inclusion in the Yale community. Its rules are simple, but its execution is not.

    The basics of the game are as follows:

    1. The person with the most commitments logged in their Gcal, and thus the most points, wins.

    2. They can be a mix of classes, meals, social events and extracurricular commitments. However, as classes are the base requirement for existing here, they count for only one point. Meals (only slightly less common) are worth two, social events three and extracurricular commitments are worth four.

    3. Participants also gain points for the number of colors for different categories in their Gcals (one color category = one point) and for scheduling commitments as closely together as possible.

    Real champions of the game can be found anywhere, but most often and obviously they are those friends we all have in our lives who are seemingly always feverishly running off to one commitment or another. They are the suitemates who you see only sporadically and entirely inconsistently, despite sharing a living space with them. They are the people of Yale, who, lacking a Time Turner, have nailed down the Google Calendar app to an exact science.

    Like running is to a myriad of other sports like basketball, soccer and ultimate frisbee, so is IM Gcal to IM Social Climbing — an independent pursuit in and of itself, but a vital skill to master for success in the latter. bona fide Gcal pros can schedule a productive yet leisurely lunch with their advisor at 12:34 and still manage to catch the shuttle up to Science Hill for their 1 p.m. lab. So next time you feel shunted for having to schedule coffee to hang out with your supposed “friend,” try giving them a round of applause for their dedication instead.

    IM Emailing


    Most of us haven’t really played that many “IM sports,” so this impromptu rulebook for our new club (team?) might not follow proper protocol (note: ask the hockey player in your FroCo group to review).

    We’ve all heard it said that the strongest muscle in your body is your tongue. Well this intramural sport aims to proves that another part of your body is even stronger. Your fingers, of course!

    We are all guilty. We came to Yale with a resume loaded with everything from student government to the newspaper you edited to the club you started and ran for half a year. Upon arriving at college, you walked into that extracurricular bazaar and fell in love with the first boy who showed interest in you — just kidding, you fell in love with every activity! You signed a sheet held out to you by the girl holding a tuba, took a red rubber duck from Red Hot poker, gave your email to boy wearing a TED Talk shirt, and probably signed something held out to you by the infamous Josh Eisenstat. Mistake!

    Now is the time to right that wrong.

    In IM emailing, each participant starts with an inbox of 150 messages. Using a stress ball for preparation is recommended. At the given time, each member must start sorting through their emails. Labels must be created, links to stop receiving emails must be clicked, responses to deans must be spell checked.

    Winner gets a cleared inbox. And 100 points to Gryffindor.


    [showcase id=”13848″]



  7. M. HOCKEY | Yale beats UND 3–2

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    WORCESTER, MASS. — Entering Saturday evening’s game, the men’s hockey team was all but lost.

    After all, how could a team that had lost one of its best players to injury hope to challenge No. 5 North Dakota, the hottest team in the country?

    Despite not having played for two weeks, the three-seeded Bulldogs were quick from the start, taking the lead in the sixth minute and holding a 3–0 lead in the third period, en route to a 3–2 upset over the two-seeded Fighting Sioux in the NCAA Northeast Regional semifinals.

    The No. 8 Elis will stay in Worcester to take on Boston College on Sunday at 5:30 p.m., with a trip to the Frozen Four in Detroit at stake.

    The victory marked the first time since 1952 that the Yale hockey team has won a playoff game.

    In last year’s NCAA Tournament, Yale was quickly ousted in a 4–1 loss to three-seeded Vermont. But this time around the Bulldogs said they were looser.

    “We kind of knew that we were playing with house money,” defenseman Ryan Donald ’10 said. “Not too many people were expecting too much out of us.”

    Head coach Keith Allain ’80 added: “I feel like we played tight [last year against Vermont], and I could sense it coming in. I was determined to make sure that if we weren’t going to be successful, that wasn’t going to be the reason.”

    All season long Allain has switched among four goaltenders, with Billy Blase ’10 and Nick Maricic ’13 earning the majority of the starts. On Saturday, though, Allain surprised everyone when he decided to start Ryan Rondeau ’11. Rondeau had only played in four games this season and had not appeared in a game since giving up five goals to Brown on Nov. 21.

    “It’s really no different than anything we’ve been doing all year long,” Allain said. “I told the team after we got knocked out in our conference tournament, that the goaltender who deserved to play after these two weeks of practice was going to play. It was open season competition, and Ryan won the competition.”

    Left winger Denny Kearney ’11 gave the Elis the early 1–0 lead when he deflected a slap shot from defenseman Tom Dignard ’10 at 5:48.

    Then, midway through the second period, Kearney scored his second of the night on a 3-on-1 breakaway that saw the junior rush toward the North Dakota goaltender Brad Eidsness and slide the puck around Eidsness’s right pad.

    The Fighting Sioux had a great chance to pull it to within one when they were awarded a penalty shot, but Darcy Zajac’s shot rang off the left post and bounced out.

    With about two minutes left in the second period, Mark Arcobello ’10 scored on an odd-man-rush that stemmed from Donald diving to block a UND shot with his body.

    Although the Fighting Sioux headed into the locker room at the end of the second period down by three, they were by no means dead.

    Less than three minutes into the final frame, right winger Brett Hextall gave North Dakota its first goal with a high wrister from the left face-off dot.

    Yale fans got nervous when right winger Matt Frattin made it 3–2 on a breakaway.

    Sensing the momentum swing, Allain immediately called a timeout to try and prevent collapse.

    “We knew that [the Fighting Sioux] weren’t going to go away,” Allain said. “We reminded our guys that if they wanted to be champions, they were going to have to go through some rough times. This was our test, and we passed it pretty well.”

    From then on, North Dakota pressured the Elis relentlessly, out-shooting them 18–5 during the third period. But a crucial Yale penalty kill with less than five minutes left in the game kept the Fighting Sioux from tying the game.

    Although they were out-shot 37–23 by UND, the Bulldogs are now just one step away from their first appearance in the Frozen Four.

    Sunday’s game against BC begins at the DCU Center at 5:30 p.m.

    Check back then for a live-blog of the game.

  8. M. HOCKEY | Yale victory forces third game

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    Knowing that Saturday night could have been Yale’s last game of the season, the men’s hockey team made sure it wasn’t.

    After leaping out to a 1–0 lead in the game’s first minute, the No. 6 Bulldogs (20-8-3, 15-5-2 ECAC) never looked back. By the end of the night, the Elis had outshot Brown 43–25 and won 6–3 at home.

    The victory forces a game Sunday night at Ingalls Rink, with a trip to the ECAC semifinals in Albany at stake.

    A loss not only would have eliminated Yale, the No. 1 seed, from the tournament, but also would have put the team’s at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament in doubt. The same would be true for a loss on Sunday night.

    “This team has shown a great ability to respond in big situations over the last couple of years,” head coach Keith Allain ’80 said. “When you’ve done it before, it makes it easier to do it again. It’s still not easy to do it, but [it is] easier.”

    Center Mark Arcobello added: “I think that [it] was on everyone’s mind that this could be our last game of the year, so [we said], ‘Let’s make sure it’s not.’”

    Just 26 seconds into the game, right winger Broc Little ’11 gave Yale its first lead of the series with a shot that sailed over Brown goaltender Michael Clemente’s right shoulder.

    About six minutes later, defenseman Jimmy Martin ’11 made it 2–0 after a hard slap shot from the middle of the slot.

    Having outshot the Bears 14–5 in the first period, the Elis kept up the pressure in the second period.

    Two minutes into the second frame, left winger Denny Kearney ’11 passed the puck to center Kevin Limbert ’12, whose soft wrister from the top of the face-off circle managed to get past Clemente. It was Kearney’s third assist of the night and 25th of the season, tying him with left winger Brian O’Neill ’12 and center Andrew Miller ’13 for the team lead.

    Continuing to dominate possession and flow, the Bulldogs took a commanding 4–0 lead midway through the second period after Miller found O’Neill for the easy backdoor goal. After the play, Brown head coach Brendan Whitten replaced Clemente, despite having called Clemente the team’s “best player” after his 37-save game on Friday.

    The Bears scored their first tally of the night early in the third period on a shorthanded breakaway, but the Bulldogs responded just over a minute later on the power play when O’Neill deflected Miller’s shot in, making it 5–1.

    Midway through the third period, a string of six consecutive penalties against the Elis forced Yale to be constantly on the penalty kill. At one point, four Bulldogs were crammed into the penalty box. Despite five power plays, including two two-man advantages, Brown only emerged with one additional goal to show for it.

    “The last 10 minutes were kind of sloppy,” O’Neill said. “It wasn’t really hockey.”

    Late in the third period with Yale up 5–2, Miller showed why he is one of the ECAC’s top freshmen, as he weaved unassisted through the defensive line and scored on a backhander. Brown made it 6–3 in the game’s final minute on a shot from the top of the right face-off circle.

    After the game O’Neill said the team’s performance showed how well it can respond even without star forward Sean Backman ’10, who is out indefinitely with a foot injury.

    “I think we’re moving the puck really well,” O’Neill said. “Obviously losing Sean hurts goal-scoring, so a couple of us had to step up, but I think [by] putting up six goals — we answered the call. Everyone’s been chipping in.”

    Sunday night’s game begins at 7 p.m. at Ingalls Rink.

  9. M. HOCKEY | Brown upsets Elis in quarterfinals

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    It was too little too late for the Bulldogs on Friday night.

    Despite a goal from left winger Denny Kearney ’11 with 37.7 seconds left in the game, the No. 6 men’s hockey team lost 3–2 to Brown in the first game of the ECAC Tournament quarterfinals.

    Yale must now win on Saturday to avoid elimination and force a third game on Sunday. A loss in the quarterfinal could put Yale’s NCAA Tournament at-large bid in serious jeopardy. Yale is currently ninth in the USCHO PairWise rankings.

    “It came down to them outworking us the whole game,” defenseman Tom Dignard ’10 said. “They got the bounces, and that’s what happens a team outworks you in playoffs.”

    After a scoreless first period, the Bears leapt out to a 1-0 on a goal that few saw coming.

    Seven seconds into the second period, Jeff Buvinow’s shot from near center-ice went five-hole past Yale goaltender Billy Blase ’10.

    “It’s hard to defend a shot from the red-line,” Yale head coach Keith Allain ’80 said.

    Blase said that he saw the puck the whole way, but it took a bad bounce.

    The Bears quickly made it 2-0, one minute later, after putting in a shot that rebounded off of the boards behind the Yale net.

    Neither team scored for the rest of the second period, although Yale certainly had its chances. With seven minutes left in the second frame, right winger Broc Little ’11 made a diving shot in front of the goal. The puck got past Brown sophomore goaltender Michael Clemente, but hit the inside of the left pipe and bounced out.

    Yale got its first goal five minutes into the game on a power play that saw left winger Brian O’Neill ’12 make a nice pass to a crashing Dignard.

    One minute later, though, the Bears scored their third of the night off of an odd-man-rush, making it 3–1.

    The Elis had a big opportunity to stage a comeback midway through the third period when they were awarded a five minute power play after Little was hit from behind and sent crashing head first into the boards.

    Center Mark Arcobello ’10, however, was called for holding 50 seconds into the power play, wiping off two minutes from their advantage.

    “They took us off the major [misconduct penalty],” Allain said. “I obviously didn’t like that call. It pushed us back.”

    Allain pulled Blase with 1:12 remaining, and Kearney tipped in a shot from Dignard to make it 3–2.

    With the crowd on its feet, the Bulldogs were never able to get the equalizer. After a few frantic shots in front of Clemente, the Bears were able to clear the puck with 10 seconds left and end the game.

    Clemente finished with 37 saves for Brown.

    “[Clemente] was unbelievable last weekend [against RPI], he was great tonight, he is in a zone,” Brown head coach Brendan Whittet said. “He’s our best player.”

    Probably because it is spring break, this was the first time in eight games that Ingalls Rink was not sold out. Attendance was listed as 2,851, short of the 3,500 capacity the Whale normally holds.

    “[Brown] played the way they had to play to win,” Allain said. “I expect us to be better tomorrow night.”

    Saturday’s game begins at 7 p.m. at Ingalls Rink.

  10. W. HOCKEY | Yale upsets St. Lawrence

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    The Yale women’s hockey team upset St. Lawrence in a 1–0 thriller at Ingalls Rink on Saturday evening. The win marked the Elis’ (7–11–3, 5–8–1 ECAC) first defeat of the Saints in team history — ending a 25-game losing streak and a stretch of 36 consecutive winless contests against the Bulldogs’ New York opponent.

    “It’s great to finally get that done,” coach Hilary Witt said. “I’ve been here nine years, so it’s certainly nice for me, and for the kids it’s certainly nice to be able to snap a streak like that.”

    Forward Danielle Moncion ’13 scored the unassisted game-winning goal with less than two minutes left in the first period.

    “To get ahead like that was awesome,” Moncion said. “[The puck] just kind of popped out in front, and I took a snap shot.”

    Moncion gave her team the lead, but goaltender Jackee Snikeris ’11 led the effort to preserve the Bulldogs’ edge. The Yale goalie finished the day with 33 saves and repeatedly shut down the Saints’ attackers.

    St. Lawrence came close to scoring with only minutes left in the game when a tripping penalty was called on Yale at 16:24 in the third period. The Saints pulled their goalie for an extra attacker 51 seconds into the power play and fired four shots at the Eli net, but Snikeris and the Yale defensemen foiled each attempt.

    The win gave the Bulldogs two more conference points — maintaining their eighth-place spot in the ECAC standings — and turned the team’s momentum around after a close 3–2 loss to No. 3 Clarkson in overtime Friday.

    “They are confident in the way they’re playing right now,” Witt said of the Eli squad. “They are a great group, and they pick each other up.”

    The match was interrupted at about 5:15 p.m., during the intermission between the second and third periods, when an automated message prompted attendees to evacuate the rink due to a “fire emergency.” The commotion proved to be a false alarm caused by a water leak, and play resumed at 5:45.

    Yale returns to Ingalls Rink for the first of next weekend’s two games against Brown at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

  11. W. HOCKEY | Two juniors compete against Team USA

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    After playing twice for Yale earlier in the weekend, women’s hockey forward Bray Ketchum ’11 and goaltender Jackee Snikeris ’11 sampled Olympic-level play Sunday, when they joined other members of the ECAC Hockey All-Star Team to take part in an exhibition game against the U.S. Women’s National Team.

    The two Eli juniors were among 21 elite ECAC players who competed in the exhibition game at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden. The contest drew a crowd of 3,809, and Team USA notched an 8–2 win against the All-Star squad.

    “It was a great event,” said Ketchum, who was on the ice for the All-Stars’ first goal. “Even though we lost by a lot, it was fun to play in front of that many fans, which I don’t think I’ll ever do again in a game.”

    Yale head coach Hilary Witt served as one of two assistant coaches for the ECAC team, which was headed by Princeton’s Jeff Kampersal.

    “I thought the kids battled hard for a team that didn’t have any practice,” Witt said. “It’s just a great experience for the kids in the ECAC to get a chance to play, and it’s a once in a lifetime chance.”

    Team USA grabbed the lead from the get-go when Angela Ruggiero sent a hard slap shot into the net just 21 seconds into play. The U.S. squad got two more goals during the first period, outshooting the ECAC team 12–10.

    Snikeris stepped into goal for the second period, relieving RPI goalie Sonja van der Bliek. The ECAC players were in the middle of a penalty kill — with 1:09 left on the clock — when Snikeris took the ice and helped to keep Team USA from capitalizing.

    “I was definitely nervous,” Snikeris said. “But I was really excited to be there, and I tried to have fun and do whatever I could to help our team.”

    The U.S. made it 4–0 at 2:38 when Jocelyne Lamoureux got a shot passed Snikeris. Ketchum’s shot on Team USA was blocked moments later. The Americans scored again at 9:13 in the second period.

    But then the All-Stars got some momentum going. Just three minutes later, St. Lawrence’s forward Tara Akstull knocked in a deflected shot to put the ECAC on the board. Ketchum was on the ice for the play.

    “It was really fun to score against them, and it brought our team together,” Ketchum said, adding that the All-Stars responded well to the faster and more aggressive pace of the game.

    “The players that were on our team were good enough to go against that pace,” she said.

    The All-Stars notched another goal at 16:51, whittling Team USA’s lead down to three points. Ketchum also got another shot in — saved by U.S. goaltender Molly Schaus — as the period wound down. But the Americans scored once more with 10 seconds remaining to make it a 6–2 game.

    Snikeris racked up 10 saves during her shift. One of her best efforts came midway through the period, when she foiled a breakaway and deke by a Team USA player.

    “She went to her forehand, and I just followed her and didn’t over-commit or anything and slid back to my post,” Snikeris said.

    The two goals the All-Stars collected in the second period ended up being their only ones of the game, even though the ECAC players outshot Team USA, 12–11, in the third period. The Americans managed to capitalize twice more to earn the final 8–2 tally.

    The exhibition game was part of Team USA’s 10-game 2009-’10 Qwest Tour, a program that helps Team USA to prepare for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.