NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The 2011 Yale football team gathered for the final time Sunday afternoon at Commons, celebrating 24 seniors while reflecting back on the season at the team's annual banquet. The Bulldogs also announced the team award winners and the 2012 team captain, linebacker Will McHale (Greenwich, Conn.).
The event began with a moment of silence led by Yale Director of Athletics Tom Beckett for those involved in the tragic accident in one of the parking lots prior to Saturday's game vs. Harvard at the Yale Bowl, Class of 1954 Field. After brunch, the program resumed with master of ceremonies Ron Vaccaro '04, the voice of Yale Football on 960 WELI-AM, introducing each of the seniors individually as they sat on the dais in front of the crowd composed of their teammates, friends and relatives.
Senior linebacker Jordan Haynes (Folsom, Calif.) then set the tone for the day by thanking everyone on behalf of the seniors.
"This group of 24 guys couldn't have done it without every single person in this room," Haynes said.
Haynes also had special praise for Tom Williams, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football.
"Coach Williams has been a second father to me," Haynes said. "I trust Coach Williams more than anyone else in this world."
The seniors then came up, by position group, to make thank-you speeches before the 2011 highlight video was shown.
Following the highlight video, Vaccaro announced the winners of the team's annual awards (listed below), and they came up to the front of the room one-by-one to receive their awards and pose for a photo with Williams and their position coach.
Williams then addressed the crowd, beginning with the phrase "and this too shall pass". He tied his opening comments back to the tragedy from Saturday.
"It really puts things in perspective," Williams said. He noted that, other than his wife and children, there is no group that he would rather have been with on a day like that other than "the 105 guys that make up our family."
Williams praised the members of the senior class, who had just finished their freshman seasons when he was hired as head coach in January of 2009. The work they have done in the three seasons since has helped Williams and his staff continue to build the program, including a 9-5 Ivy League record over the past two years.
"They were critical in the transition, because they were freshmen about to be sophomores," Williams said. "In order for us to make the cultural change we felt was necessary, they had to buy in."
The crowd then gave the seniors a standing ovation before Williams introduced the new captain.
"He is cut from the same cloth as the men who came before him," Williams said. "He is intense, he is passionate and he is tireless. He will be a great captain for our football team."
McHale spoke briefly, thanking his teammates in general and the seniors in particular.
"The hard work you have put in is going to pay dividends," he said.
The day ended with the singing of "Bright College Years".
Report by Sam Rubin '95 (firstname.lastname@example.org), Yale Sports Publicity
2011 Season Yale Football Team Awards
Ted Blair Award
Given to the most valuable player on the varsity team in memory of Edwin Foster (Ted) Blair '24.
QB Patrick Witt '11 (Wylie, Texas)
Jordan Olivar Award
Given to that senior, other than the captain, who, through his devotion to Yale football, has earned the highest respect of his teammates.
DT Jake Stoller '12 (Shaker Heights, Ohio)
Woody Knapp Memorial Trophy
Given to that outstanding member of the football team who best typifies the cheerful disposition, leadership qualities, and unselfish devotion to others which characterized Woody's life and accomplishments at Yale.
DE Cliff Foreman '12 (Washington, D.C.)
Robert Gardner Anderson Award
Given to the player who best exemplifies Bob's interest in the sport by combination of skill, spirit and pride in accomplishment.
DT Reed Spiller '12 (Portsmouth, N.H.)
Norman S. Hall Memorial Trophy
Given to an individual for outstanding service to Yale football, in memory of Norman Hall '30.
LB Nick Schneider '12 (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Gregory Dubinetz Memorial Trophy
Given to the lineman who best exemplifies the spirit of Greg Dubinetz as a player and person. TE OL Mike McInerney '12 (Blue Bell, Pa.)
Charles Loftus Award
Given to the most valuable freshman.
OL Ben Carbery '15 (Oak Park, Ill.)
Chester J. LaRoche Award
Given to that senior who, by his character, academic talents and concern for others, did the most for Yale.
FS Geoff Dunham '12 (Dallas, Texas)
Ledyard Mitchell Award
Awarded for proficiency in kicking.
P Kyle Cazzetta (Slate Hill, N.Y.)
Jim Keppel Award
(Offensive Back of the Year)
Given to the offensive back who best exhibited Jim's work ethic, pride and dedication to Yale Football, as well as his ability to enrich the lives of his friends and teammates.
TB Alex Thomas '12 (Ansonia, Conn.)
Ryan LoProto Award
(Defensive Back of the Year)
Awarded to the player on the Yale Football Team who best exemplifies Ryan's passion and competitive spirit, skill in the defensive secondary, and devotion to teammates.
CB Drew Baldwin '12 (Alexandria, Va.)
Ted Turner Award
(Offensive Lineman of the Year)
OL Gabriel Fernandez '12 (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Defensive Lineman of the Year
DT Pat Moran '12 (Alexandria, Va.)
Hammer of the Year
LB Will McHale '13 (Old Greenwich, Conn.)
Specialist of the Year
DB John Powers '13 (Hamden, Conn.)