LaSpina, Kelley, Pont Honored
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – The Course at Yale is a legendary golf track with as much history as any collegiate venue. On a wet but warm afternoon the historic course hosted the largest ever gathering of Bulldog gridiron talent – a legendary lineup covering more than five decades - during the 2011 Yale Football Association Golf Outing. All 139 spots were sold out long in advance as teams competed for the annual Cozza Cup while honoring former Eli assistant coaches Seb LaSpina, Dave Kelley and Rich Pont.
"This is the best attended golf outing in the history of Yale athletics," said Pat Ruwe '83, the president of the Yale Football Association and a former Bulldog captain. The large showing of support, both financial and emotional, paid an appropriate tribute to one of college football's most storied programs.
Over 200 people were on hand to honor the ex-Yale assistants who served under hall of fame coach Carm Cozza. All the former players signed framed photos of the former assistants that were presented to LaSpina, Kelley and Pont at the dinner following the golf, while ex-players John Pagliaro '78 (two-time Ivy Player of the Year), John Lykouretzos '95 and John Rogan '82 provided reflections about the Yale coaching trio.
The 1976 Bulldogs, which will celebrate the 35th anniversary of its Ivy League Championship season, were the best (20 players) represented team at the outing, and there was plenty of support from team leaders. Many former Yale football captains participated, including Brian Dowling '69, Vic Staffieri, Bob Rizzo, Tom Giella '84, Marty Martinson '85, Carmen Illaqua '86, Ken Lund '86, Jon Reese '90, Dave Sheronas '93, Jake Fuller '00, Tim Penna '02, Chandler Henley '06 and Ruwe.
"This is what college football is all about. Seeing all the men who used to wear the 'Y' on their helmets talking to each other about what it was like to play at Yale. That's what it's all about," said Tom Williams Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football, standing in front of the crowd at the reception. "All I want is for every man here to bask in the glory of Yale football."
The battle for the Cozza Cup (foursome of former or current Yale players with lowest gross score) went to the team of former NFL standout Chris Hetherington '96 (also won longest drive), Jay Waller '95, Garrick Cox '95 and Kevin Smith '95, all first-time winners. The low net score for the entire tournament went to the foursome of Cozza, Dowling, Kelley and LaSpina.
Current Yale football players made an impact at the outing as well. PK Phillipe Panico '13, along with his mother, brother and a friend, took the low gross for the entire tournament. OL Jeff Marrs '13, who comes from a family of auctioneers, helped raise money during the auction of some amazing golf vacations by getting people to take out their wallets.
filed by Steve Conn, Yale's Director of Sports Publicity
photo: Kelley, Pont LaSpina (by Tom Stokes)