Annual Banquet Provides Closure for 2009 Season

Tom Williams and 2009 captain Paul Rice. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Tom Williams and 2009 captain Paul Rice. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Class of 2010 Honored

NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The Yale football team held its annual post-season banquet Sunday afternoon at Commons. The Bulldogs saluted the 23 seniors on the team while also announcing the team award winners and introducing the 2010 captain, senior defensive lineman Tom McCarthy (Chester, N.J.).

This was the first banquet under the leadership of Tom Williams, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football. It had been held in January in recent years, but Williams had multiple reasons for moving it to the day after the end of the season. He has made a point of honoring Yale's traditions, and longtime Bulldog head coach Carm Cozza used to hold the banquet shortly after the conclusion of each season.

"I do believe in the closure aspect of it," said Williams. "And we're trying to get back as close as we can to the traditions Carm Cozza had."

A crowd of several hundred was on hand for the event, including players, coaches, support staff and parents. The festivities began with a blessing from Pastor Terry Smith, father of junior tight end Caleb Smith (West Orange, N.J.). The singing group Whim & Rhythm performed while the guests ate brunch, and emcee Ron Vaccaro '04, the play-by-play voice of Yale Football on 960 WELI, then introduced a surprise guest -- former Yale captain Jon Reese '90, who had initially been headed to a lacrosse tournament that morning (he coaches a high school team) but instead decided to attend the banquet and asked to speak to the team.

Reese, a motivational speaker, had addressed the team in smaller settings before and wanted to speak to the Bulldogs again in light of the team's frustrating last-minute 14-10 loss to Harvard Saturday.

"Yesterday I saw men play better than they have all season," Reese said. "I saw a team come together and play better than they have all season. We were better. We've gotten better. Then, I witnessed fate. We are all in pain this morning. We're confused. We're asking ‘How?', ‘Why?'. The fact is, however, that we are all better men today than we were yesterday ... We do heal. When we get a cut in our flesh, we heal - but a lot of times there's also a scar that remains. That scar is a reminder of the pain, but it's also a message of the lesson that we've learned in acquiring that scar."

After Reese's passionate speech, Vaccaro introduced the senior class. He noted that the group had gone 27-13 in the past four seasons, including an Ivy League championship in 2006. The seniors were all on the dais up front and rose as their names were read, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd.

The seniors then came up to the microphone by position group, and each one had the chance to publicly thank the various family members, coaches, and support staff members who were key parts of their Yale Football experience.

Senior linebacker Paul Rice (Cleveland Heights, Ohio), the 2009 team captain, then addressed the crowd.

"When I was thinking about what I should say there was one word that kept popping into my mind, and that's ‘resiliency'," said Rice. "You would be hard-pressed to find one play all year where we gave up, where we didn't give a great effort. That in large part is due to the guys up here and the coaches. Coach Williams always says ‘You get what you earn.' It's absolutely right ... While our record, 4-6, does not really sum up the men in this room, on the field that's what we earned. It's unfortunate. But this coaching staff and this program will get it turned around. There's no doubt in my mind about that."

Vaccaro then announced the winners of the team awards (complete list below), and each honoree came up to the dais along with his position coach to receive the award.

Vaccaro made a point of speaking about each of the men the awards were named for, and told a particularly resonant tale about Greg Dubinetz '75. All awards, including the Greg Dubinetz Memorial Trophy that goes to the lineman who best exemplifies the spirit of Greg Dubinetz as a player and person, are paid for from the Greg Dubinetz fund. 

"What's the spirit of Greg Dubinetz? Yale and Dartmouth were two powerhouses in the 1970s. One year, Dubinetz, an offensive lineman, and the Bulldogs, were playing Dartmouth and taking on vaunted linebacker Reggie Williams. Yale had certain tendencies back then, and on one key play, Yale came to the line and Williams and Dartmouth, trying to intimidate Yale, said 'We know what play you're going to run'. And Greg Dubinetz said, 'Good.... And we're going on 1'... And Yale went on 1, and got the first down."

The crowd then watched the 2009 season highlight film produced by video coordinator Tony Palmieri.

Williams then addressed the crowd, thanking many of the people involved with the program. He had special praise for the seniors in light of the leadership they provided in his first season as head coach.

"Transitional football is always difficult," Williams said. "It's most difficult on the senior class ... This group made that transition about as smooth as it can be. Led by Paul Rice, this group provided the energy and enthusiasm from day one ... My only regret is that we were not able to send these guys out with the championship they deserved. They should leave here with the knowledge that they laid the foundation for whatever success we achieve in future years."

Williams reserved special praise for Rice.

"A lot of great things have been said about him, but I can't tell you how much he has meant to me personally in this year of transition," Williams said. "He has been a rock. He has had unbridled enthusiasm."

Williams then introduced McCarthy, who was elected captain by a team vote.

"It's a great honor to be voted captain by my teammates, especially considering the junior class that we have," McCarthy said.

McCarthy then spoke directly to his teammates as they prepared to head home for Thanksgiving break.

"Looking ahead to next season ... Use the next week to take some time to reflect on the past year and give your bodies a rest, because when we get back from break we're going back to work."

2009 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.
H-back John Sheffield ’10 (Portland, Ore.)

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.
SS Larry Abare ’09 (Acton, Mass.)

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.
TB Brandon Scott ’10 (Chatsworth, Calif.)

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.
WR Reid Lathan ’10 (Santa Barbara, Calif.)
OLB Max Newton ’10 (Great Meadows, N.J.)

Norman S. Hall Memorial Trophy
Given to an individual for outstanding service to Yale football, in memory of Norman Hall '30.
LB Tim Handlon ’10 (Valparaiso, Ind.)

Gregory Dubinetz Memorial Trophy
Given to the lineman who best exemplifies the spirit of Greg Dubinetz as a player and person. OL Cory Palmer ’10 (Wooster, Ohio)

Charles Loftus Award
Given to the most valuable freshman.
TB Mordecai Cargill ’13 (Cleveland, Ohio)
S John Powers ’13 (Hamden, Conn.)

Chester J. LaRoche Award
Given to that senior who, by his character, academic talents and concern for others, did the most for Yale.
QB/WR Rich Scudellari ’10 (Saratoga, Calif.)

Ledyard Mitchell Award
Awarded for proficiency in kicking.
P/PK Tom Mante ’10 (Westford, Mass.)

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 Rodney Reynolds ’10 (Mt. Vernon, N.Y.)

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 Adam Money ‘11 (Whiteland, Ind.)

Ted Turner Award
(Offensive Lineman of the Year)
OL Jake Koury ’11 (Dublin, Ohio)

Defensive Lineman of the Year
DL Tom McCarthy ’10 (Chester, N.J.)

Hammer of the Year
OLB Travis Henry ’10 (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.)

Specialist of the Year
P/PK Tom Mante ’10 (Westford, Mass.)

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (, Yale Sports Publicity