By Joel Alderman
It will be Captain Champion at Yale next season, where its football team is already assured of success. Its captain, in name at least, is already a Champion. Now the rest of the squad has to follow his lead if the Bulldogs are to achieve what they nearly did last week.
It is rare that an athlete has a name so appropriate to his role on the team on which he plays. But that will be true at Yale next season.
The Bulldogs will be looking for an Ivy League title in 2015, after being denied a part of one in a final minute loss to Harvard. Two days later, on Monday (Nov. 24), the team took the first step toward becoming a champion when it elected one to be its new leader.
Cole Champion was named the 138th captain in Yale’s illustrious football history. He is a three year starter in 27 games as a defensive back, with 125 solo tackles and 200 overall, and four interceptions.
Champion’s personal Yale career highlight was at Cal-Poly last year when he made 14 tackles, had two interceptions and recovered a fumble in the Bulldogs unexpected win. For that performance he was named the recipient of the weekly New England Gold Helmet award.
In his first year, Cole led all defensive backs with 46 solos and 71 overall. He received the Charles Loftus Award as Yale’s top freshman.
As a sophomore he had three interceptions and four fumble recoveries. This past season, in the major upset over Army, Champion had five solo tackles and a similar number two weeks later against Dartmouth.
Cole comes from a hotbed of high school football, the Florida southeast coast. He played on one of the leading teams in the country, St. Thomas Acquinas of Ft. Lauderdale. He was on its teams in 2008 and 2010, which won state and national championships. (There’s that word again!)
In 2011 he was captain of the Raiders. Now he has achieved the same title at Yale, where he is the active career leader in tackles and interceptions.
Being captain at Yale is especially significant because it has never had co or tri-captains, as is true of virtually all colleges. In its illustrious football history, tradition calls for just a single captain of each Yale team, not only in football but in all sports.
The only other Yale football captain from Florida was defensive tackle, Bob Greenlee, of Daytona Beach in 1966. However, he went to high school in North Carolina.
“Being elected captain by my teammates is a life defining moment that I don’t take lightly,” was one of Cole’s first reactions.
Cole Palmer Champion is the son of Laura and Gregg Champion. He is an economics major at Yale.
“It’s time to get back to our goal of winning an Ivy League Championship,” Cole said in his acceptance speech. And with the name of Champion to lead the way, the Bulldogs of 2015 are off to a good start.