Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sitting Atop the Ivy League

Pound Ridge's Griffen Dey '19 (top) gets the celebration started after Yale defeated Penn to win the Ivy League baseball championship (Yale Athletics photos)
Capping one of its best Ivy campaigns in its history, Yale baseball swept two games from Penn, May 16, to capture the Ivy League title and earn an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament. The Bulldogs, now 30-16, beat the Quakers in a double-header at home in a best-of-three series that determined the Ivy champion.

When the final out was secured in the second game, Yale Westchester players joined other teammates to celebrate in a pile-up on the mound.

In the first game, with Yale shutting out its opponent, 5-0, Rye's Tim DeGraw '19 had a sacrifice fly and scored a run and Pound Ridge's duo Griffin Dey '19 and Richard Slenker '17 had base hits.

In the second game, DeGraw had one of his best collegiate games with three hits (including a double and home run), four RBI, and two runs scored.  Slenker, likely playing in his last  game at Yale Field as a senior, had two hits. Dey scored a run and pitched the final inning.

Yale won't know its NCAA-tournament foe until pairings are announced May 29.  The Bulldogs return to the tournament for the first time in 24 years. As a four-year starter and this year's captain, who is on pace to graduate from Yale next week, Slenker is finishing his Yale career with a batting average of .330 with over 185 hits.

Day of Service, 2017

A faithful group of Yale volunteers continued the tradition of spending Yale Day of Service, May 13, at the SPCA of Westchester in Briarcliff Manor (YWAA photos)
It might be hard to keep an accurate count.  Yale Day of Service and YWAA returned to the SPCA of Westchester in Briarcliff Manor, May 13, for the--who's counting--seventh year in a row, as one of the primary volunteer sites in Westchester.

All across the country and in some parts of the world, Yale alumni celebrated community service by spending a day volunteering in may ways with much Yale flavor and adorned in Yale t-shirts, caps and jackets.

In Briarcliff Manor, YWAA board member Susan Kaminsky '86 coordinated the group of volunteers. Once again, they spent an afternoon (this time a cloudy, rainy affair) helping out at the animal shelter. The shelter's primary goal is to rescue animals and put them in caring homes.

The Yale group, including alumni, families and friends, spent Day of Service cleaning the shelter, making dog treats, and organizing the supply room. The Yale group makes a difference not just one day, but year after year after year.

Yale Day of Service plans activities for one day in May.  But one Westchester site, the Scarsdale community garden under the guidance of Maggie Favretti '85, will host Yale volunteers, Saturday, May 20, also a long-running Day of Service event.

Above, Jennie and Emma Nolon (top, L) assist at the shelter. Carole Johannsen (top, R) cuddles with a kitten.  Heather Hewett shows off an extra-large SPCA t-shirt, and Sonali, Mira and Ritika Arora prepare dog treats. (YWAA photos)

Above, Brook Butterworth (top, L) assists in the office. Day of Service volunteers included Beatrice and Camille Korschun and Maxine and GG Zaretsky (top, M) and Kate and Emily Kasoff (R). Ben Browning and Carole Johannsen (bottom, L) were also at the site May 13. (YWAA photos)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Westchester's Diamond Quartet

Tim DeGraw '19 and Richard Slenker '17 (above) have helped Yale to the top of the Ivy League in baseball this spring.  They are two of four Westchester athletes on the team (Yale Athletics photos)
The worst of winter has eased its way out of 2017 and spring-like days have begun to tease New England--signs that Yale baseball can take a prominent stage on its old diamond in West Haven.  With annual road trips to the South (to the states of New Mexico, Virginia and South Carolina this year) out of the way, the team is already in the last chapter of the season. Sporting a 16-13 record, it has the best conference record in the Ivy League (7-1) and heads to Harvard for a three-game series this weekend.

Yale is a contender for the Ivy title, and outstanding contributions from a quartet of Westchester athletes are one reason. The foursome were on the squad last year, but three of them were first-year players, happy to gain playing time while learning the ways of Ivy athletics with Ivy academic burdens. 

In 2017, the freshmen are mainstay sophomores, playing (and pitching) regularly, bashing home rooms, smacking lead-off singles, banging out doubles and complementing the steady, consistent play of their senior teammate, Richard Slenker '17, a former Westchester-Putnam player of the year who is capping off his own productive career as the Yale captain. 

The sophomores are Rye's Tim DeGraw '19, a fleet outfielder with speed, who starred in football at Rye High School; Griffen Dey '19, a first-baseman and pitcher from Pound Ridge who has already hit seven home runs in 2017, and Mamaroneck's Kumar Nambiar '19, lefty relief pitcher who led his high school team to a state championship.

Few Yale teams in recent years have had as many Westchester representatives as baseball the past several years. Consider that a coincidence, but attribute that also to outstanding coaching and competition at high schools in the county, despite the perennial disadvantages of weather in March and April in the New York area. (The high school season doesn't bloom until mid-April when the school calendar starts to wind down. And many games are postponed because of all forms of inclement weather.)

The Westchester quartet also played in prep programs that have impressive records in grooming collegians. Nambiar's Mamaroneck can boast of alums who have played in college World Series and for big-league teams.  Dey has seven teammates from his Kennedy Catholic squad who are now playing in college. DeGraw has two teammates from Rye playing in the Ivy League.

This spring in support of Yale's bid for an Ivy championship, DeGraw is hitting .308 with 14 stolen bases and already has 13 multi-hit games. Pound Ridge's Slenker, who has accumulated a pile of League and team awards as a virtual mainstay in the Yale infield for four years, has a career batting average of .326. He will likely wind up his time at Yale with over 175 career hits and 100 career RBI's.

Nambiar earned a relief save in the Bulldogs' recent 6-3 win against Columbia. Dey started the season on a torrid long-ball pace with three home runs in the first four games.  As a pitcher, he earned wins over Cornell and Columbia.

After returning from Harvard, the Bulldogs will finish the season in late April with three-game series against Dartmouth and Brown. The Ivy League baseball championship follows.

(L-R) Pound Ridge's Richard Slenker '17, Rye's Tim DeGraw '19, Mamaroneck's Kumar Nambiar '19, and Pound Ridge's Griffen Dey '19. Below, Slenker, DeGraw and Dey show their batting forms in Ivy games against Columbia and Penn.  (Yale Athletics Photos)




Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Yale Book Awards, 2017

This spring, YWAA will continue a tradition of recognizing top high-school students in Westchester with its annual book awards (YWAA photos).
This year between April and June, YWAA will present Yale Book Awards to 51 juniors at Westchester high schools. A Westchester annual tradition, the book awards recognize top students at these schools for "outstanding personal character and intellectual promise."

Once again, the award this year includes The Yale Book of Quotations, edited by Yale Law School's Fred Shapiro, a tote bag and book plate with the student's name. YWAA board member Peter Santhanam '85 Ph.D. administers the program.  YWAA board members and other alumni distribute books to the schools.  At some schools, Westchester alums will present the awards at an honors assembly and highlight the accomplishments of winners.

Each school selects a Yale Book Award recipient based on criteria provided by YWAA. The program is not associated with Yale admissions, although many recipients in past years choose to apply to Yale and some have attended.  For some students, the award introduces them to Yale. YWAA's long-time goal has been to recognize exceptional achievement in Westchester schools.

Participating schools cover the full cross-section of public and private schools in Westchester from Yorktown to Yonkers, from Tarrytown to Port Chester.  Lincoln High School in Yonkers, for example, will be a new participant in 2016. 

The program is supported by YWAA and alumni donations.

Click YBA for more about the awards in past years.



Friday, March 31, 2017

Freedman Explains His Top Ten

In Scarsdale, Mar. 30, Yale professor Paul Freedman, author of "Ten Restaurants That Changed America," described how he came up with his list. (YWAA photos)
 Yale history professor Paul Freedman's new book, Ten Restaurants That Changed America, has spawned lively discussion among food circles around the country.  What restaurants made the list? What restaurants didn't?  How did he select the top ten? What were the criteria? And how does a history professor in New Haven, an expert in medieval studies, carve out time to write about the history of eating habits in this country over the past century and a half?

Freedman, a guest lecturer at the Scarsdale Library, Mar. 30, as part of the YWAA speaker series, explained his favorite hobby to an audience of about 100 Yale alumni, friends and Westchester residents.  The book, he reminded all, "is not about the best restaurants," but about those that had the most influence on where Americans eat out, why they choose to do so, and what they eat when they venture beyond home dining. 

His list includes familiar names (Delmonico's in Downtown Manhattan, the recently closed Four Season in Midtown, Antoine's in New Orleans, and Sylvia's in Harlem).  It contains puzzling selections, until Freedman explained carefully (in his book and in Scarsdale) why they must be included:  Schrafft's of New York lore, national chain Howard Johnson's, and Mama Leone's, the lone Italian restaurant on his list. 

Critics have praised the book and applauded his diligence and research. He approached culinary history in the manner of, yes, a medieval historian by studying archives, examining tattered menus, roaming the country, interviewing food experts, and analyzing original sources. Freedman presents a story of Americans deciding at some point in history to indulge in eating by simply going outside the home. 

Freedman observes the "amalgam" of ethnic cuisines, thanks to immigrants from all global corners or thanks to African-Americans migrating to the North and bringing southern recipes and tastes with them (Sylvia's, e.g.).  The panoply of ethnic cuisines in America, he showed, has been around longer than we know. In Scarsdale, he showed a New Yorker cover from 1938 with a cartoon drawing of several ethnic-restaurant settings (Chinese, Middle East, Italian, French, etc.).

He said Delmonico's, where menus in the mid-19th century included Maryland turtles as a high-end offering, was likely America's first restaurant that was a "gastronomical destination." It was America's first high-end French restaurant without being a real French restaurant.  Howard Johnson's, he said, makes the list because it's the first restaurant where the menu and cuisine were the same at every Ho-Jo site. Howard Johnson's offered Americans familiarity and consistency. 

Freedman described New York's Schrafft's as a destination for "respectable New York women," who would often order a rich banana split after sampling a light green salad, where his grandmother frequented, but his own mother avoided.  With Schrafft's, he discussed the possibility of women having unique eating preferences or the likelihood that women of long ago chose foods differently when not accompanied by men. 

He highlighted the cozy, low-back seating arrangements at the Four Seasons, a purposeful design to ensure faithful (and famous) followers could see and be seen. 

Freedman's list is about history and influence and not a forecast of trends and fads. No restaurant in the book was founded after the 1970's.  Mama Leone's has closed.  The Four Seasons will reappear in varying (and uncertain?) incarnations. Schrafft's disappeared in the Reagan era, and Howard Johnson's is but a tiny shell of its once expansive self. 

His Scarsdale audience rushed to follow his presentation with questions or their own observations about food history, habits and trends.  

Freedman noted his list resulted in no Mexican or Japanese restaurants.  There were also no steak or barbecue places.  He said the French Laundry in Napa Valley might have been no. 11 or 12 on the list, if he were permitted to extend the list.  

Audience members asked why the 21 Club in Midtown and Windows of the World in the old World Trade Center were not considered (for influence, if not cuisine).  He said "21 was mostly about atmosphere and networking," where the Four Seasons had already established a foothold. The 21 Club, he added, was the among first to get away with selling a very expensive hamburger. Windows of the World, he remembered, was a "style pioneer with good wine."  

Others asked his impressions about commonplace eateries in hospitals, airports and museums.  (He suggested a museum restaurant in Chicago was a favorite.) Others solicited his views of favorite New York deli haunts, such as Carnegie Deli and Katz's Deli.  "Katz's is celebrated," Freedman said, "like Strand Bookstore (in Greenwich Village), the last book store standing."

Someone asked why certain restaurant types have never gained popularity in the U.S. Hungarian restaurants and food, he replied, have an "undeserved image of heaviness."  Philippine restaurants have been "a hard sell," while Indian restaurants thrive, but are frequently run by immigrants from Bangladesh. 

Freedman, identifying a Yale tie at a mostly Yale event, noted Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame (and included in his top 10) sent her daughter to Yale and helped revolutionize how Yale Dining cultivates ingredients and prepares food in the residential colleges.  

And Danny Meyer, best known these days for igniting the hamburger sensation that is Shake Shack, also a Yale parent, wrote the introduction to the book. 
In Scarsdale, audience members wanted to know about restaurants that didn't make the list, about current trends in eating, and about why certain cuisines are more popular than others. (YWAA photos)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Day of Service in Westchester, 2017


The SPCA of Briarcliff Manor (above, 2013 Day of Service) has been a popular site for Yale volunteers for several years (YWAA photo)
The Yale Day of Service, May, 2017, line-up is now complete. 

Yale alumni, family members and other volunteers can review planned activities around the world, as Yale's springtime tradition continues in helping communities on a Saturday afternoon in May.  Yale Day of Service activities are planned from Boston to the Bay Area and from Mexico to Singapore. And in Westchester.

The Westchester sites are listed below. Many are familiar to Yale alumni who have volunteered in the past. Westchester Day of Service once again have sites at the food gardens in Scarsdale and at the animal shelter in Briarcliff Manor. But always there are new sites, as well as a range of activities in surrounding areas (New York City and Connecticut).  Most activities are scheduled for May 13. Some sites are set for other days in May.

Click Yale Day of Service-New York/Westchester to review the line-up, decide where you want to help or contribute, and register online.

Click Westchester DoS to review highlights of Westchester alumni organizing, coordinating, and volunteering at Yale Day of Service in the past few years.

Scarsdale GardenMaggie Favretti '85, a faculty member at Scarsdale High School, has acted as site leader for several years and leads the community garden on the grounds of the school. The garden grows food for local food pantries and has been cited nationally for its contributions in teaching and encouraging the values of community gardening. Annually during Yale Day of Service, volunteers help prepare the garden for the spring and summer. (Sat., May 20)

Briarcliff Manor SPCA Center:  Susan Kaminsky '86, YWAA board member, will coordinate activities at the animal shelter in Briarcliff Manor.  The shelter has been a popular, favorite Day of Service site for several years.  Volunteers will clean the shelter and do some planting on its grounds and are encouraged to donate cleaning supplies, treats and toys. (Sat., May 13)

White Plains Bread of Life:  Sherri Falco will lead activities on behalf of Bread of Life, a non-profit organization in White Plains that provides food to those in need in Westchester.  On Day of Service, Yale volunteers will assist at Open Arms, a shelter that will sponsor dinner downtown for homeless men in the area.  (Sat., May 13)

Friday, March 17, 2017

Yale's Freedman in Scarsdale, Mar. 30

As part of YWAA's lecture series, Yale professor Paul Freedman, author of a new book on the history of impactful restaurants, will speak at the Scarsdale Library, Thursday, Mar. 30.  Delmonico's (above) made the Top Ten list.
The YWAA lecture series resumes Thursday, Mar. 30, in Scarsdale, when Yale history professor Paul Freeman will discuss his new book, Ten Restaurants That Changed America.

Yale alumni, guests, and those interested in Freedman's explanations for why certain restaurants made or didn't make special list are invited to attend. There is no admission fee. The Scarsdale Library will host the event (which starts at 7 pm). Copies of the book will also be on sale.

Freedman is the Chester E. Tripp Professor of History at Yale and the Chair of the History of Science and Medicine Program. Event guests won't need to wait until Mar. 30 to learn what restaurants earned a spot on his well-researched list. (See below)

The book, published earlier this year, has been praised by book reviewers and food critics around the country:

"(This) is a book as much about the contradictions and contrasts in this country, as it is about its places to eat," wrote Jane Kramer in the New Yorker.

Joe Yonan of the Washington Post said, "(Freedman) effectively makes the case that the story of America's restaurants is one of changing immigration patterns, race relations, gender and family roles, work obligations, and leisure habits."

"(Freedman) suggests that it's not ultimately restaurants that change America. It's the people in the kitchen," Victorini Matus at the Wall Street Journal wrote.

"Culinary historians, those besotted with food culture, and curious general readers will all find something of value in this well-researched, entertaining social and cultural history," Kirkus Reviews summarized.

Fabio Parasecoli, Director of Food Studies at the New School, said, "Freedman's engrossing and well-researched exploration of the restaurant as an American institution presents us with a gallery of unforgettable characters, iconic dishes, and unique place."

Author Fredrick Kaufman called Freedman "one of the world's most learned food writers."  Harvard professor Joyce Chaplin said the book is "exactly what the very best American food has always been." Food writer Molly O'Neill said Freedman's book is "the most important and entertaining book on the subject of food...in years."

Rich Fabbro '76, YWAA board member, who leads the lecture series, organized the event.

Delmonico's, New York
Antoine's, New Orleans
Schrafft's
Mamma Leone's, New York
Howard Johnson's
Le Pavillon, New York
Sylvia's, New York
The Four Seasons, New York
The Mandarin, San Francisco
Chez Panisse, Berkeley, Calif.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Yale Baskeball Joins Ivy Madness

Yale and Harvard met for the third time this season at the Palestra in the Ivy tournament. The Bulldogs triumphed, 73-71. (YWAA photos)
There were lots of smiles and expressions of glee at the old Palestra in Philadelphia, home to this year's inaugural Ivy League basketball tournament Mar. 11-12.  There were also electricity and festivity.

Thousands jammed the historic setting; perhaps 6,500 or more were in attendance.  It was a weekend basketball convention decorated in crimson, orange, red, brown, black, and Yale blue. The Ivy League conducted an experiment, a six-game extravaganza to determine the league's men's and women's representatives in the NCAA tournament.  And Yale got to participate.

In the third of a quartet of games from Saturday morning into the night, Yale's men's basketball team faced off against Harvard in the semi-finals.  Scattered about Penn's ancient arena were Bulldog and Crimson followers, screaming out their lungs as if this were a football game.  Late in the game Yale's Miye Oni '20 scrambled through the lane, vaulted to the rim, and dunked the ball with such force that most in the stands might have forgotten this was not an NBA game. This was Ivy League basketball, circa 2017. Yale students near by danced, slapped fives and panned for the ESPN television cameras.

Harvard didn't give up, however.  It, too, had a talented first-year player (Bryce Aiken), who was in his own "zone," tossing in three-point baskets at will. Yale defenders struggled to keep up with the small, swift guard, who slapped the floor and teased his Yale foes.  Aiken finished with 28 points; Yale's Oni had 18. But he and his teammates held on to beat Harvard, 73-71.

When the horn sounded, a throng of Yale students on the baseline rushed the floor before Palestra officials pushed them back into the stands, unaware of (or indifferent to) Yale-Harvard traditions of celebrating their wins over each other in pompous ways. 

Yale had a Sunday noon start against Princeton for the Ivy championship and a chance to repeat last year's memorable appearance in the NCCA tournament.  Tigers and Bulldogs fought closely for a half until Princeton pulled away and won, 71-59.

Princeton heads to the tournament (to play Notre Dame). Yale heads back to New Haven, confident it will reappear at next year's tournament wherever they decide to hold it.

After Princeton defeated Penn, Yale and Harvard took the floor at the Palestra. (YWAA photos)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sidra Bell at the Yale Club, Mar. 15

At Yale, Sidra Bell '01 studied history before deciding on a career in dance.

Greenburgh native Sidra Bell '01, the choreographer who leads her own New York dance company Sidra Bell Dance, will speak on dance innovation at the Yale Club of New York, Wednesday, Mar. 5 at 6:30 pm. Yale alumni, guests, and those interested in the arts and dance are invited to attend. 

A New York Times reviewer once referred to one of her group's performances as "slick, in-your-face intensity."  A Washington Post critic described her choreography as "creepy and comical."  

Bell will discuss her work after a short reception.  At Yale, a resident of Saybrook College, she majored in history before earning an MFA degree from Purchase College. Her dance company has performed around the country and abroad (in Greece, Brazil, Bulgaria, and Germany, among other countries). 

In 2015, she was honored by ArtsWestchester as one of the top 50 artists who work in or are from Westchester. 

"It's not about the steps," she once told an interviewer. "It's the ideas behind the steps."


Sidra Bell '01 will speak on dance innovation and contemporary dance at the Yale Club of New York, Mar. 15

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Ivy Tourney: Philly-Bound

In its cathedral home at Payne Whitney in New Haven in Feb., Yale basketball hosted (and defeated) Dartmouth (above). (YWAA photo)
The road to Philadelphia was topsy-turvy for Yale's men's basketball team in 2016-17.  In the end, it finished in the top four among the eight Ivy League teams and, therefore, qualified for the Ivy League's first-ever basketball tournament.

This isn't an experiment. It's the real deal.  The winner will advance to the men's basketball NCAA tournament, March Madness, circa 2017.

Recall last year's basketball euphoria at Yale.  Yale won the Ivy League title and proceeded to shock the basketball world with a stunning Friday-afternoon upset over Baylor in Providence.  At least for two days, basketball aficionados and bracket fanatics had discovered they do play the game in New Haven.  It was Yale's first tournament win ever.  Two days later, the Bulldogs pushed Duke to the final minute until it lost its second-round match.

This year's team is smaller, but features swift guard play and lots of newcomers with freshmen and sophomores on the floor most of the time. The roster doesn't include a Westchester athlete and is sprinkled with players from California to Carolina. (Rhodes Scholar and top rebounder Matt Townsend '15 of Chappaqua was the last Westchester player on the team.) During its 17-10 regular season, there were big wins (like Washington of the Pac-12) followed by unexpected losses, but enough conference wins to get to the Palestra, where the tournament will be held.

To win the Ivy championship, it will likely have to beat Big Three rivals:  Harvard (Mar. 11) and Princeton (Mar. 12).  Possible? Yes. Likely?

Friday, March 3, 2017

Salovey Will Speak in Greenwich, Mar. 7

Yale president Peter Salovey '86 Ph.d. will speak in Greenwich, Mar. 7
Yale Westchester alumni and guests are invited to join a discussion with Yale president Peter Salovey '86 Ph.d. at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Tuesday, Mar. 7 at 6:30 pm. The event will be hosted by the Yale Alumni Association of Greenwich. 

Guests will attend a reception before Salovey's remarks and have an opportunity to view the works of Alfred Sisley, the French impressionist master of the 19th century.

Salovey, who will speak from 7:30-8:30 pm, will provide updates on campus activities and initiatives. Yale alumni can submit questions and topics for Salovey to address when they register for the event.

As most alumni know, the pulse of Yale seldom sits still. In New Haven, Yale prepares for the opening of two new residential colleges (Franklin and Murray) and next month will admit the largest freshman class in its history (the Class of '21). 

Calhoun College will be renamed Hopper College in the wake of a special committee's presentation of guidelines for renaming campus structures.  Commons in the center of campus prepares to close for renovations as it transforms into a new student center, the Schwarzman Center. Yale sports will have a representative in the Ivy League's first-ever basketball tournament in Philadelphia early March. And many are raving about the opening of spacious, new facilities at the School of Music.

Salovey also spoke to Yale alumni in Greenwich just days after he was inaugurated as president in Oct., 2013.  His talk was entitled "A More Unified Yale."

Participants must purchase tickets ($50) to attend the event. Click YALE-GREENWICH to register. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Feb Club Comes to Sleepy Hollow

Feb Club Emeritus has 2017 stopovers in Dubai, Mumbai, Tokyo, Denver, Boston, Cincinnati, Rome, and finally in Westchester's Sleepy Hollow Feb. 28. (Feb Club Emeritus photos)

Got the post-holiday, winter-in-Westchester, pre-spring-break blues?  Waiting for the days to get longer, the sun to shine brighter and the opportunity to go outside without layers of wool?  Spring is still a month or so away.

Yale's alumni tradition, Feb Club Emeritus, once again offers its solution to fight off the blahs, gather with other Yale alumni and celebrate nothing more than the company of others who experienced Yale and can swap stories about Old Campus, Mory's, Science Hill, and Sterling Library. Feb Club Emeritus schedules at least one Yale event somewhere around the world every single day of the month.

Feb Club Emeritus has already launched its 2017 series of Yale parties and gatherings here and abroad.  Feb Club Westchester will reconvene for the third straight year.  Krista Madsen '95 and the Class of '95 will host a Feb Club Emeritus event Tuesday, Feb. 28 (7:30-10 pm) in Sleepy Hollow at the Red Zebra restaurant (31 Beekman Ave.), a new Italian eatery featuring pastas, Italian wines, and micro beers. The Class of '95 will provide appetizers, and guests will purchase their own drinks.  All Yale alumni (from any class) and their guests are invited. 

Feb Club events have already occurred in Denver, New York, Washington, and Cincinnati and abroad in Manila, Mumbai, Tokyo, Australia and Singapore.  The flurry of Yale celebrations will be capped off on the last day with an event in Geneva, Switzerland, and, of course, the Class of '95's party in Sleepy Hollow.  For fun, friendship, and for Yale.

Red, Hot & Blue at the Osborn


Yale's a cappella group Red, Hot, & Blue (above, top and middle) performed and sang favorites at a concert at the Osborn in Rye, Feb. 10.  Princeton's Roaring 20 (above, bottom) joined the Yale singers. Bill Nightingale '55, YWAA board member, organized the event, along with Princeton Westchester president Martin Sklar. Nightingale was also emcee.

The Yale group, which bills itself as Yale's oldest co-ed a cappella group, will celebrate its 40th anniversary this spring.  It plans a tour in Puerto Rico during spring break and will spend the summer in France. Its repertoire includes such classics as "Summertime," "Fever," "Fly Me to the Moon," and "'Round Midnight."

Monday, January 23, 2017

Yale Day of Service Set for May 13

In past years, Yale alumni in Westchester have volunteered eagerly at several sites for Yale Day of Service, including (above) those in Cross River, Scarsdale and Briarcliff Manor.
Yale Day of Service, Yale's special day for alumni around the world to participate in an event of community service, is set for Saturday, May 13, 2017.

Alumni, family members and Yale friends will be invited to select an event in the region to donate time, a spring Saturday, and volunteer to clean up, spruce up, clear up, or help in any way at shelters, parks, gardens, and community centers.

Sites in the Westchester and neighboring regions will be announced soon.  Yale volunteers will then register online to participate wherever they choose to be.  In Westchester in previous years, sites have included the animal shelter in Briarcliff Manor, a community garden in Scarsdale, a middle school in Mount Vernon, and the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation state park in Cross River.

Click Westchester-DoS to read about sites and projects Westchester alumni have led in the past four years.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Freedman Presents His Top Ten

Yale Professor Paul Freedman will discuss his new book at a talk in Scarsdale, Mar. 30
Yale Professor Paul Freedman's "day job" is his role as professor of medieval history.  At Yale, where he has taught for 20 years, he has also served as chair of the history department and director of undergraduate studies in history.

His special interest or favorite passion is the history of cuisine and trends in eating out.  Last year after exhaustive review, the New York native and current Pelham resident set out to identify the 10 most influential restaurants in American history, restaurants that set standards or trends and changed eating habits outside the home. 

The outcome?  He finished a new book, Ten Restaurants That Changed America, published by Liveright/Norton this past fall and much discussed and talked about, if not debated.

Freedman will speak to Yale alumni and guests in Scarsdale at the Scarsdale Public Library Thursday, Mar. 30 at 7 pm.  He will explain why some restaurants made the list and why some didn't. Copies of the new book will be available for sale. Many of the restaurants are no longer in existence, but that doesn't diminish their importance in the history of Americans eating out.

Freedman's talk is part of the YWAA lecture series that brings Yale professors to Westchester to discuss their subjects, current projects or latest work.  In recent years, the series has featured professors in astrophysics, history and law. 

Readers of his book don't have to churn hundreds of pages to find out his Top Ten.  The list appears on the cover (and below).

In New Haven, an increasingly important hub for interesting, diverse cuisine (and everybody's hot spot for the best in pizza), Freedman told the New York Times that his favorite pizza place there is Zuppardi's Apizza (actually located in West Haven).

Delmonico's, New York
Antoine's, New Orleans
Schrafft's
Mamma Leone's, New York
Howard Johnson's
Le Pavillon, New York
Sylvia's, New York
The Four Seasons, New York
The Mandarin, San Francisco
Chez Panisse, Berkeley, Calif.


Red, Hot & Blue in Rye, Feb. 10


Red, Hot, & Blue, the a capella group from Yale, comes to Westchester on the evening of Friday, Feb. 10 for a concert at the Osborne in Rye. 

The group, Yale's oldest group featuring men and women, will be joined by a group from Princeton. It sang (with the Princeton Roaring 20) at a concert in Rye in Dec., 2015.

The 2017 concert details will follow.  YWAA board member Bill Nightingale '53 is organizing the event. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

YWAA Highlights, 2016

The annual Westchester Debate featuring Yale and Princeton capped off YWAA's eventful 2016 (YWAA photos).

Applaud the students, staff members, parents and area high-school students at Ardsley in November. The auditorium was filled to the back rows, and the cheers were lively, spirited, as college and high-school debaters jousted, at least verbally, on a Friday night in Westchester.

The event was the annual Westchester Debate Competition, featuring Yale vs. Princeton, and it capped another eventful year for YWAA.  As Westchester tradition requires, co-organizer Bill Nightingale '53 welcomed guests, tossed in a few Nightingale one-liners, and encouraged participants to give their best shots.  Richard Bradley '86 moderated, while co-organizer Susan Kaminsky '86 made sure the event started on time and proceeded swiftly.

It turned out to be one of the best-attended debates in years, and Ardsley and other schools jumped at the opportunity to volunteer to be hosts for Debate, 2017.

Unfortunate for Yale alumni in Westchester, Princeton won the college round, halting Yale's two-year streak.  Horace Greeley won the high-school nightcap.

Besides the debate, YWAA's year included a calendar filled with events, speakers and service. Westchester athletes excelled on fields, turf, and courts--in baseball, swimming, squash, and soccer. Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway '95 Ph.D. tore himself away from New Haven duties to come to Rye Brook to describe a campus in the midst of heavy dialogue about free speech and about names that adorn residential colleges.

At the start of 2016, Westchester again participated in that unique Yale-alumni affair, Feb Club, where alumni gather around the world for revelry, song and no other reason than to spice up the dreary weeks of winter.  Krista Madsen '95 hosted Feb Club-Westchester in Tarrytown for the second straight year.

In April, Grant Herreid, artistic director of the Baroque Opera Project at Yale, returned to Westchester with his musicians to perform music from the 17th and 18th centuries at the Jay Heritage Center in Rye. Suzanne Clary '83 is the president of the trustee board at the Center, which has hosted other concerts and lectures with YWAA in the past.

Claudia Rosenthal '08 '14MMus, the rapidly rising opera star from Edgemont now in residence at the Pittsburgh Opera, was a winner of the George London Foundation prize that recognizes young singers from America and Canada. Later in the year, she performed a rare feat in Pittsburgh by singing two roles at once, when a featured performer got sick on the same day. "I got this," she said she told herself before the performance.

Alumni College, AYA's program that arranges for Yale professors to teach seminars for alumni, came to Rye in April and held classes in psychology and the introduction to C.G. Jung, taught by alumnus Kendrick Morris '77MDiv.

After 54 years of  knowing nothing about the euphoria of March Madness, Yale men's basketball shocked the NCAA world by defeating Baylor in the first round of the national tournament. Two days later, it scared the wits out of mighty Duke in Providence in a game where Yale became national darlings--at least for one Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Yale men's squash nudged its way to win a national championship on its home court.  Pierson Broadwater '18 of Bronxville was among the Yale participants that defeated Rochester, 5-4, for Yale's first national title in the sport in 26 years.

Dean Holloway, who in late 2016 announced his departure from Yale to become Northwestern's provost, spoke to Westchester and Greenwich alumni in March in Rye Brook.  He knew he couldn't avoid alumni questions about campus demonstrations, but asserted he wanted them to learn more about students' involvement in a new program he and others launched:  The Yale Civic Leadership Initiative, which helps students become better leaders in the community.

The Yale baseball team, including its quartet of Westchester stalwarts, ventured to Texas for three games to play Texas A&M in March. While in College Station, that grand ol' Yale captain from the 1940's, George H. W. Bush '48, appeared one day, spoke to the team and threw out of the first pitch.  It didn't matter that the Aggies beat Yale in all three games.  

Pound Ridge's Richard Slenker '17, in his third season, was one of the team's best hitters durng the season.   He was No. 1 or 2 in hits, doubles, RBI's and batting average.  In three years, he has a .316 career average.

In swimming, Scarsdale native Brian Hogan '16 was his team's captain and earned two All-Ivy honors, a first-team distinction for academics and a second-team honor for performance. 

In April, YWAA, along with admissions committee and Yale ASC, hosted the annual Bronxville reception for Westchester admitted students. It was a day of celebration, as parents and admitted students rejoiced and shared stories about the long trek to gain admissions at Yale.  Current Yale students on a panel boasted about their respective residential colleges and argued passionately that with a Yale admission congratulatory e-mail, there is no choice, but Yale.

If it's May, then it's Yale Day of Service (now in its eighth year).   YWAA leaders organized several sites where Yale alumni and friends volunteered for a weekend in the community. YWAA hosted sites in Rye, Mamaroneck, Scarsdale, and Kingston, and volunteers cleaned up gardens and parks, painted old ships, and prepared fun bags for children.

One of Yale's most popular professors in the law school, Akhil Reed Amar '80 '84JD, is arguably the country's best expert on the U.S. Constitution. YWAA invited him to lecture in Scarsdale in May, as part its regular series of bringing esteemed Yale faculty to Westchester to speak to alumni. 

This time Amar leaped at the opportunity to talk about the Constitution and the recent presidential election.  One alumnus said the night was like "a really good Yale lecture that had students hanging out after class for more questions and arguments."

The YWAA evening at Boscobel, year after year, is an annual highlight.  In August, Yale alumni and guests gathered for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival's performance of MacBeth. YWAA board members Rich Fabbro '76 and Dan Leonard '76 organized the event.  Yale Shakespeare expert Murray Biggs provided insight and guidance for alumni at his annual lecture before the performance.

But this performance was different. It featured an all-women cast, and MacBeth was played by Yale alumna Maria Christina-Oliveras '01, who was once a student in a Biggs class at Yale.   She exhibited many talents--pantomiming violent scenes, singing when the script called for it, and expressing rage to the top of her lungs.

YWAA once again sponsored the annual Yale Book Award, honoring dozens of high-school juniors in the area for scholarship, achievement and service.  It sponsored again the Summer Fellowship Program. Yale student Claire Chang of Pleasantville was this year's recipient and worked this summer at the Sitka Local Foods Network in Alaska. 

Yale and Princeton debaters at Debate Night in Ardsley confronted a difficult topic in economics and politics.  Sophie Park '19 and Scarsdale's Michael Bogarty '19 represented Yale. The collegians  dissected the topic of free trade and international tariffs, and audience members spurred the clash, which was quite civil, polite compared to the year's Trump-Clinton showdowns. Judges reasoned Princeton should win this year.

At The Game in Boston in November, admit it.  Most fans expected another dreary outcome in Yale's match-up with Harvard.  The Bulldogs dragged themselves into Harvard Stadium with a losing record and sights on ending the dismal season quickly. But after a surprise onsides kick to start the second half, the Yale team and Yale crowd collectively turned heads and figured, "We can win this Game after all."  And triumph the Bulldogs did with freshman quarterback Kurt Rawlings leading the way.

Yale's 142nd football team featured no player from Westchester. But when the swarm of thousands of Yale students and alumni flooded the floor of Harvard Stadium, it surely included dozens of Westchester students and young alumni. For the past 10 years, Yale followers had to watch Harvard fans storm the field and dance on the turf. In 2016, it was Blue's time to prance in joy and taunt, "School on Monday!" (Harvard had school that Monday.)

May the spirit of the holiday season and hopes for the new year lift all Yalies here and everywhere.

Yale had a party on Harvard's stadium floor after beating the Crimson in November, 21-14 (YWAA photos).

At Boscobel in August, MacBeth was played by Yale alumna Maria Christina-Oliveras '01 (YWAA photos).
Yale professor Akhil Amar '80 '84JD lectured about the Constitution and the presidential election in Scarsdale in May (YWAA photos)
A panel of Yale students greeted the admitted students of Yale's Class of '20 at the Bronxville reception in May (YWAA photos).
Yale baseball, including four Westchester residents on the roster, visited Texas A&M in the spring and got the chance to meet Yale baseball captain George H.W. Bush '48 (Yale Athletics photos)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Cambridge Under Siege

Freshman quarterback Kurt Rawlings '20 tossed a couple of touchdown passes before Yale students, alumni and followers dashed onto the Harvard turf to celebrate the end of years of losing to the Crimson (YWAA photos)
When you have not much on the line and not much to lose, football coaches can take risks.  Why not?  The Yale football team entered its annual season-ending test with Harvard with only two wins. It had no stake in the Ivy League championship. It had struggled with injuries and question marks about who should play quarterback. It suffered embarrassing losses to teams like Lehigh and Penn. It tried this; it tried that. Not much worked. 

And to boot, the Bulldogs hadn't beaten the Crimson since 2006, 10 long years ago. Last year, the Crimson thumped the Elis, 38-19.

To start the second half of the Yale-Harvard football game, Nov. 19, in Boston, Yale coach Tony Reno, knowing thousands of alumni across the country were growing impatient with Yale's inability to beat Harvard, called for an onsides kick.

It caught the entire stadium by surprise, as well as the hundreds of thousands who might have watched The Game on a nationwide CNBC-TV broadcast. 

Nobody expected it. Nobody. Yale squibbled the kick just moments after halftime shows where Harvard and Yale bands hurled taunts each other, as tradition requires. The ball bounced and rolled for about 15 yards.  Yale recovered the ball. It had worked.

Thousands of Yale fans were finally convinced Yale might really have a chance to win This Game.  Victory was no longer a dream or an outrageous ambition. A short time later, Yale lined up for a field goal and shocked the crowd of 32,000 again.  The Yale holder Andrew Johnson '18 picked up the snap and threw a wobbly, too-short pass to a receiver, who grabbed it for a first down.  Yale later scored on the drive with a touchdown by Reid Klubnik '20 to take the lead, 14-7.

The streak just might end after all. Or would it not?

Reno and his squadron proceeded. Were there more tricks in the bag?  Reno had to have known of the gamble Yale coach Tom Williams took in the 2009 Game, where late in the fourth quarter with Yale leading, the team faked a punt on fourth down (with what seemed like half a field to go) and botched the effort and later the game. 

Some controversy ensued. You can't have a Yale-Harvard game without some angst, big or small. First, the Yale end-of-third-quarter "Saybrook Strip," a Yale football tradition (frowned upon by adult staff) since the 1970's, went steps beyond what Game fans are accustomed to.  Students stripped naked (not to their underwear), causing even members of the Yale football team to cast glances into the stands. Harvard officials, who should have known, scrambled to whisk the mischievous strip team out of the stadium.

Second, late in the game, Yale's dazzling discovery of a quarterback, freshman Kurt Rawlings '20, whirled a touchdown pass diagonally near the goal line.  His receiver, Klubnik, reached for the ball and shoved it across the goal line before Harvard defenders slapped it from his hands for an apparent fumble. 

Officials ruled the score a touchdown.  Yale fans roared.  The Harvard crowded cursed the referees in unison. More than a few Yale followers whispered they were thankful the Ivy League doesn't permit replay review of officials' calls. 

That late-game toss was enough for Yale to hold on until the end.  With seconds to go, Harvard's offense desperately flung passes around the field to try to tie the game and send it into overtime. It would be the Harvard way to devastate Yale with a heartbreaking defeat, likely with a bizarre bounce or deflection.

But Yale's stalwart defensive back, Jason Alessi '18, broke up Harvard's last pass with seconds to go, and the Bulldogs were pronounced winners of the 133rd Game, 21-14.

Off to the races. Yale students sprang from their seats, jumped from the tall concrete barriers, and dashed toward the middle of the arena in a shadowy blur. On cue, a party erupted on the field like few that have ever been held on the floor of Harvard Stadium. Thousands of Yale students and young Yale alumni, who have never witnessed a Yale triumph over Harvard, laid claim to the Harvard turf. They danced with the football players, they sang "Bulldog, Bulldog" several times, and they snapped selfies with the scoreboard in the background.  They meandered around the field.  They hugged each other. Many were teary-eyed.

Yale had seized the grounds of the stadium from one goal post to the other.  And no one dared to tell them it was time to go back to New Haven. 

The teams couldn't get their offenses going in the first half, as many fans presumed the Crimson would explode in the second half (YWAA photos)

The Game, of course, always features the drama and hurls of insults delivered by the bands of Yale and Harvard (YWAA photos)

After the Yale defense stopped Harvard's offense with seconds to go, a Yale party exploded on the field. No Yale fan wanted to depart this celebration too soon (YWAA photos)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Debate Duel in Ardsley

Ardsley High School was the host for the 20th annual Westchester Debate Competition, Nov. 4. The Yale squad faced Princeton. Both teams were asked to debate a topic tied to free trade and free markets. (YWAA photos)

Another year meant another close call with Princeton declared the winner for 2016. (YWAA photos)
This could have been a debate that evokes memories of 2016 Trump-Clinton showdowns that melted into prime-time fury. But it wasn't. It was a more civil, more pleasant form of debate. It was Yale vs. Princeton at the Westchester annual debate competition, sponsored by YWAA and Princeton-Westchester, held at Ardsley High School, Nov. 4.

The fury, intensity, and spark were there. The debaters fiercely challenged statements, points of view and rationale.  Yale debaters eyed their Princeton foes and stood up to disagree.  Princeton debaters sometimes ignored Yale debaters when they requested to rebut a point. 

In the end, unlike the better known president-candidate debaters on a national stage, Yale and Princeton were respectful of each other, shook hands and hugged each other while they waited for judges to deliberate.

This year's competition, the 20th annual, was close, as many of them are. The Ardsley auditorium was filled with students, parents, teachers and a handful of Yale alumni (over 200 in the room).  Judges grasped to make a decision and declared Princeton the winner (after Yale's victory over Princeton last year). 

This year's topic was likely addressed in more detail than the showings from the current year's presidential nominees.  Yale and Princeton debaters analyzed the topic:  Are markets and economies better with the erosion of borders?  And they examined the pros and cons of free-trade agreements and tariffs as if they were economics graduate students.

Sophie Hyeon Park '19 of Seoul, Korea, and Michael Bogarty '19 of Scarsdale represented Yale.  The Princeton team included An Lahn Le and B. Srinivasan.

Back and forth they went. They discussed protectionism and globalization. They pondered the economies of India, Cambodia, Viet Nam, and China. Yale was asked to argue against free trade. Princeton was assigned the other side.

Finally the final gong went off to end the debate, and judges (local officials Delores Brathwaite, Walter Rivera, and Joshua Levin, who returned for the third straight year) rendered the decision.

Following the Princeton win, six high-school teams took the stage. They, too, were asked to address brain-churning, topical issues:  (a) Should merit-based scholarships replace need-based aid in colleges? (b) Is a multi-party political system better than a two-party system? (c) Should the government support human exploration in space?

Host school Ardsley, cheered on by dozens of fellow students, competed against the Masters School.  Hackley, which hosted the competition two years ago, faced Horace Greeley.  Fox Lane debated Yonkers-Lincoln.  Judges pronounced Greeley the overall high-school victor.  Winners (Sophie
Saremsky and Michelle Tong) and their school received scholarships, funded by the Nightingale Debate Fund.

YWAA board member Bill Nightingale '53 himself was once again the debate's co-Chair, along with YWAA board member Susan Kaminsky '86 and Princeton-Westchester's president Martin Sklar.  Richard Bradley '86 was the moderator for the third year in a row. 
Bill Nightingale '53 (above), a Co-Chair of the event, greeted the audience before the evening debate. Below left, moderator Richard Bradley '86 explains the debate rules to the audience.

Debaters from each team, one by one, took the podium to explain their points of view or rebut the arguments from the other side. Below, members of both teams congratulated each other and chatted about college life. (YWAA photos)

YWAA president Tim Mattison '73 (above) congratulated the Yale squad for its efforts. (YWAA photos)
The judges conferred and, minutes later, declared Princeton the 2016 winner.  High school debaters (above) took the stage afterward. (YWAA photos)
Above, Martin Sklar (top,L) of Princeton-Westchester greets the college debaters.  Participants in the high school debate gather on the Ardsley stage.  The trio of judges (Delores Brathwaite, Joshua Levin and Walter Rivera) returned for the third consecutive year.

Debaters from all high schools joined event organizers Bill Nightingale '53, Susan Kaminsky '86 and Princeton alumnus Martin Sklar on the stage after the competition.



Thursday, November 3, 2016

Halloween Haven

(Yale Daily News photos)
Halloween has never been just another day at Yale.  Generations of alumni recall the Yale Symphony Orchestra's annual Halloween concert at Woolsey.  Many more recall treks up Hillhouse Ave. to the president's house, all decked out in macabre, many chanting as they make their way up Science Hill.

During Halloween weekend, 2016, Yale Daily News photographers decided to capture the haunted, dark imagery of the campus, Gothic buildings after a nightfall rain, illuminated by New Haven street lamps.

Recognize the sites above?  The front door of Harkness Tower?  Maybe the entryway of SSS? The ominous pathway to the opening gate at, shall we dare say it, Skull and Bones?