Preparing for Game Day

Facilities worker painting the lacrosse turf before a game
Jon Mroz paints the crease; Photo by Robert DeSanto

One recent Saturday afternoon, the stands of Reese Stadium began to fill: despite freezing temperatures and a brisk wind, fans of Yale lacrosse had come to cheer. Ushers guided parents to their seats; students huddled under Yale-blue blankets; along the sidelines Yale’s mascot, Handsome Dan XIX, waited for face-off. On the field, players warmed up as a Chris Stapleton song played over the loudspeaker.

Over the course of this season’s 13 home games, more than 8,000 spectators will have taken in the fast-paced play of Yale’s lacrosse teams (as of April 14, the women were ranked number 13 nationally, while the men were just outside the top 20). And well before fans populate the risers or the players take up their sticks, dozens of staff members are at work: setting the goals, rendering game-day visuals, printing tickets, and wrapping athletes’ knees and wrists.

“I am very proud of the energy and long hours our staff and administrators put into our 300-plus home games every year,” says Victoria M. “Vicky” Chun, Thomas A. Beckett Director of Athletics. “They are the first to arrive and the last to leave. Although their job requires them to look at everything but the game, there is no better group pulling for our teams to win.”

Here are some of the personnel who make game day happen for lacrosse, as they and their colleagues do for all 35 of Yale’s varsity athletic programs.

Facilities, operations and grounds

James “Jim” Terenzio, superintendent, Jon Mroz, master gardener, Paul Hylan, groundskeeper, and John Lorence, gardener

“For the grounds group, there can be 3 to 4 events going on at the same time,” said Jim. “So everyone is hustling, everything is very coordinated.” The day before each game, Yale’s landscaping and grounds team grooms the synthetic turf to eliminate bumps and create a smooth playing surface. The final touch: painting each yellow crease, the circular lines that surround the lacrosse goals. “We take care of a vital component of Yale Athletics, their fields and field houses,” says Jon. “I’ve worked these grounds for 30 years and am very proud to be involved in the success of our teams.”

On game day, the crew arrives several hours before the whistle to walk the field, set up practice nets, and examine game nets for holes. In tandem with operations staff, they walk the stadium’s stands, remove debris, and prepare the tailgate area, placing empty trash cans where needed. Before face-off, they pull practice nets off the field and raise the American and Yale flags.

 Leroy Baker radios from the sideline Leroy Baker radios from the sideline; Photo by Robert DeSanto

Yale Athletics, events management

Leroy Baker, assistant athletic director & men’s lacrosse event manager, and Michael Lionetti, assistant director of event management & women’s lacrosse event manager

Logistics, logistics, logistics: this team manages them all, including coordinating parking and security staff, briefing the ushers, and meeting visiting teams to show them to their locker rooms.

They also manage the video scoreboard and game clock and keep alert from the sideline to cue pregame announcements and team introductions. “Each game has a precise schedule and rhythm, down to the music. The coaches and players expect things to happen in a planned order,” says Leroy. “We are here to make that happen so they can concentrate on the game.”

Stephanie Doheny waits for face-off on the sidelineStephanie Doheny waits for face-off; Photo by Robert DeSanto

Yale Athletics, broadcast services

Stephanie Doheny, director

During games, this team manages up to five cameras that broadcast the game via live stream, bringing the action in Reese into the homes of viewers around the world. “Whenever our Bulldogs score a goal or we have a great angle on a blocked shot, we present it impartially,” says Stephanie. “But honestly, it’s exciting when we can celebrate our teams and be able to show those shots.”

Tim Bennett watches the field from the press boxTim Bennett watches the field from the press box; Photo by Robert DeSanto

Yale Athletics, strategic communications

Sam Rubin, assistant director, women’s lacrosse, and Tim Bennett, assistant director, men’s lacrosse

From up in the press box, Sam and Tim provide in-game social media coverage and keep a rolling account of game and player stats. During halftime, Sam takes these stats to Yale’s coaches. They also coordinate with external media, scheduling interviews with coaches and players.

“Strategic Communications supports the lacrosse programs as well as Yale’s 33 other varsity teams. Often, after one game ends, we grab laptops and run to another one,” says Tim. “Each season it’s exciting, exhausting, and interesting to be a part of.”

James Troutman checks tickets for accuracyJames Troutman checks tickets for accuracy; Photo by Robert DeSanto

Yale Athletics, ticketing

James Troutman, assistant athletic director

In the Yale Athletics Ticketing Office, located in a large room in Ray Tompkins House that is alive with athletics memorabilia of seasons past, James and team use a small (but very important) desktop printer to churn out tickets: up to 3,000 fans can be accommodated in Reese’s stadium seating. During the game, the ticketing team works at the ticket window. “It’s exciting to be around and interact closely with the fans,” says James. “Their energy is infectious.”

Brad Ahern creates the team highlight reelBrad Ahern creates the team highlight reel; Photo by Robert DeSanto

Yale Athletics, creative services

Brad Ahern, director of creative services and digital strategy

Nearly every image on Reese’s video scoreboard — from the team highlight reel to the game day graphics — was created by Yale Athletics’ creative services team at the beginning of the season, with weekly updates to reflect current statistics. “My work is very fast paced,” says Brad. During games, he walks along the sidelines, with two cameras, capturing footage of players in action. “As I’m at the game, those photos and videos get posted live to social media, or later they’ll be used for a highlight reel” — completing the video-production cycle from live action to editing bay to screen.

Michael Stancarone checks a player’s helmetMichael Stancarone checks a player’s helmet; Photo by Robert DeSanto

Yale Athletics, equipment services

Michael Stancarone, equipment manager

Student-athletes rely on their equipment manager to prep every piece of gear they need, which in lacrosse includes uniforms, sticks, pads, and, for the men, helmets. (The rules of men’s lacrosse allow aggressive physical contact.) “At the beginning of the season, we issue equipment to the student athletes, and weekly I check it for damage and whether it needs repair or replacement,” says Michael. After a game, he collects and launders all the uniforms, does a review of the equipment’s condition, and checks in with the athletes. “Through these interactions, you develop a close bond with the students.”

Mary Berdo watches the lacrosse game from the sidelinesMary Berdo watches from the sidelines; Photo courtesy of Yale Athletics

Yale Athletics, sport administrators

Mary Berdo, deputy director of Athletics and men’s lacrosse sport administrator, Danielle Upham, associate athletic director, Facilities & Operations and women’s lacrosse sport administrator

Sports administrators work with the head coaches for their designated sports, acting as a support system and an advocate for the needs of the program, overseeing overall team operations, and ensuring a high-quality experience for its student-athletes. On game day, sport administrators look out for issues on and off the field, keeping in mind institutional, conference, and NCAA expectations. Should any issues arise, the sport supervisor is there to preserve a safe and competitive environment for both teams.

Mary Boudreau cues the team’s practice playlist over the stadium’s sound systemMary Boudreau cues the team’s practice playlist over the stadium’s sound system; Photo by Robert DeSanto

Yale Athletics, marketing and community engagement

Mary Boudreau, assistant athletic director for marketing

Mary writes the announcer’s gameday script — player introductions and starting lineups, sponsor advertisements, promos for upcoming Yale Athletics events, and, just in case, announcements regarding emergencies or weather delays. She also manages the music and video board in Reese, playing clips created by the creative services team.

“During games, I’m up in the press box,” says Mary. “Hearing the roar of the crowd when our teams score a goal or win a game is incredibly exciting.”

Jay Cordone tapes a student-athlete's ankle before practiceJay Cordone tapes a student-athlete’s ankle before practice; Photo by Robert DeSanto

Yale Athletics, sports medicine

Jason “Jay” Cordone, head athletic trainer, men’s lacrosse, and William “Billy” Davis, assistant athletic trainer, women’s lacrosse

Jay leads a team of 13 athletic trainers who support more than a thousand Yale student-athletes. In addition to helping students prevent or recover from injury, they act as a liaison between injured athletes, physicians, and coaches to determine when it’s right for the player to return to practice or competition. Within the Tsai Lacrosse Field House, they have access to an array of advanced therapeutic tools: hydrotherapy pools, an aquatic treadmill, and a diagnostics space with x-ray and DEXA-scan equipment. During games they are on hand to provide hydration or first aid, assess injuries, and consult with medical personnel.

“The best parts of my job are the daily interactions with the students and being privileged to be a small part of their athletic experience,” says Jay. “I get to work every day in the incredible Tsai Lacrosse Field House, surrounded by the historic Yale Bowl, Coxe Cage, and the beautiful West Rock Ridge. How great is that?”