The “A” Team – keeping Athletics’ spaces in shape

February 21, 2020

Yale has many sports teams and athletic facilities. These include numerous field and boat houses, locker rooms, an indoor track, and field center (Coxe Cage), Yale Field, and the historic Yale Bowl! All need to be maintained and kept clean.

A close-knit team of nine custodians does an amazing job staying on top of these areas, collectively called “Athletics’ A.” They keep pace with the speed, intensity, and rhythm of the live games. The biggest difference between maintaining athletic spaces and a typical office or classroom is they must actively be cleaned during the event.

“During football games, the Yale players stampede into the locker room at halftime and then charge out. It’s chaos, chairs overturned, sticky floors from spilled Gatorade. It’s a mess, but my Athletics’ A team dashes in behind them and makes it pristine again,” said James Baker, Superintendent of Residential Colleges and Athletics A.

Athletics’ A consists of all the buildings connected to the athletic playing areas, including the Golf Course, Cullman-Heyman Tennis Center, and Reese Stadium (lacrosse and soccer) – to name a few. The custodial team must keep the areas clean before, during, and after an event. Often, track meets or football games are held on the weekend or in the evening so the team is onsite for these events. 

This involves cleaning locker rooms, bathrooms, and showers. Also, removing trash and continuously monitoring the facilities, ensuring they are in working order. Then, if needed, promptly reporting any plumbing or electrical issues, or other malfunctions. “Our team covers the varsity sporting events regardless of day or time. During a large event, like the Yale-Harvard game, with thousands of people in attendance, it can be very hectic,” said Pasquale “Pat” Simone, Custodial Team Leader.

I feel like we are part of the team, we are there to help them, and they appreciate it. We often get thanks from the players and coaches. It’s very rewarding to hear that, and it means a lot to all of us. Pasquale “Pat” Simone, Custodial Team Leader

The football games, especially Yale vs. Harvard, are huge events that require special planning. To support the football games, the team typically works a 12-hour day, starting at 5:00 a.m. They begin with prepping the locker rooms, press box, and then manning the Kenney Center Alumni Room during the game. In addition, there are eight large restrooms around the perimeter of the Yale Bowl. Visiting teams use the Connecticut Tennis Center during a game, so those areas must be cleaned and monitored as well.  “I feel like we are part of the team, we are there to help them, and they appreciate it. We often get thanks from the players and coaches. It’s very rewarding to hear that, and it means a lot to all of us,” said Pat Simone. 

There is a perk in all this, the “A” team gets to watch some of the live sporting events and cheer on the Yale teams. They also get to know the players and coaches. “We work really closely with Athletics staff when planning an event. We are always nearby if the coaches or players need us, so we can react quickly. It’s amazing for us to be in the middle of all that is happening during a track meet or a football game,” said James Baker.

There are challenges, especially with scheduling and issues during flu season. For instance, a visiting team arrives earlier than expected and needs to get into a field house—a custodian must be there for support. Recently, several players had the flu, so the team had to go in using special cleaning products to wipe down everything. This is not part of the regular routine, but the “A” team jumps into action to support all that is needed for Yale’s athletic teams and visitors. “Our team works so well together, making us able to adapt quickly to many last-minute changes and needs,” said Pat Simone.

While they cover sporting events, their normal routine can be eerily quiet at times. Their standard shift is from 5:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Most of the time, especially in late fall and winter, it is dark when they start work. “The area we cover is large. For instance, the golf course is somewhat remote and quiet. It can be a bit intimidating in the dark. I’ll take a ride over with whoever’s working there so they aren’t alone,” said Pat Simone.

Most of the sporting events are seasonal, but many of the teams practice throughout the year. Even now, the baseball team is working out in the indoor batting cage at Yale Field, and the “A” staff is there getting the job done with great team spirit.

Thanks to this entire team, its custodial team leader, and manager for their hard work and Laura Lucky, Tracey Campbell, Jared Bradshaw, Terrence Ivory & Terri Henderson.

dedication! You make us proud!

Meet the team:

  • Terri Henderson, General Building Maintenance, has been at Yale 35 years.
  • Cerise Evans, Custodian has been at Yale 26 years.
  • Pasquale Simone, Custodial Team Leader, has been at Yale 25 years.
  • Laura Lucky, Custodian has been at Yale 16 years.
  • Garland Short,Custodian has been at Yale 12 years.
  • Andrea Williams, Custodian has been at Yale 8 years.
  • Terrence Ivory, Custodian has been a Yale 5 years.
  • Jared Bradshaw, Custodian has been at Yale 3 years.
  • Tracey Campbell, Custodian has been at Yale 1 year.