For Yale football Captain Carmen Ilacqua, actions speak louder than words.
While many team captains are very verbal leaders, Ilacqua leads by silent but deadly--for Yale's opponents--example.
"He's around patting everyone on the back," Yale Coach Carm Cozza says. Ilacqua tries to set a standard for his teammates with consistent hard work and good cheer.
His actions both on and off the field have earned the respect of his teammates and coach. Those actions have also earned him the honor of being the Bulldogs' 109th captain.
Following a freshman year as Yale's third linebacker, Ilacqua sat out his entire sophomore season with a broken collar bone. The inability to contribute to a relatively successful (6-3) Eli squad frustrated Ilacqua.
He turned this frustration to determination, and prepared for his junior year.
And what an incredible junior year it was.
Ilacqua led the Bulldogs in tackles (68) and tackle assists (60) and was second in quarterback sacks (three) and tackles for yardage loss (seven). Ilacqua also caused two fumbles and notched two fumble recoveries.
His play earned him the reputation as Yale's quickest and strongest linebacker and selection to the All-Ivy Second Team.
Not bad, considering that for most of the season the linebacker wore a cast to protect a broken bone in his hand.
"I missed a few practices, but the injury didn't affect my contribution," llacqua says. "I was always there when they needed me, and I went out and played hard every Saturday no matter what."
llacqua's dedication didn't go unnoticed. "We are very proud of him," Cozza says. And at the end of his junior year, the Bulldog players showed their respect by voting the Sociology major team leader.
"The captain's job is to set the tone, set an example, try to do the talking on the field with actions," Ilacqua says.
Both the Bulldogs and their captain have faced a lot of adversity this year. Yale, after being the pre-season pick of many to win the Ivy title, is 3-4-1 and going nowhere.
And for Ilacqua, it's the same old story: an injury.
Back problems have limited Ilacqua to only three practices a week--and those in sweats as opposed to pads. But Cozza is quick to point out that Ilacqua has not missed any games as a result of his injury this year and that he has maintained his role as an effective leader.
Going into The Game this Saturday, the captain leads the team in solo tackles (71) and assists (47) for the second straight year. He has caused five incomplete passes and two fumbles and recorded three quarterback sacks.
"The Game is the most important of the year and of my career," Ilacqua says. "It is more than just a football game--it's the alumni, the tradition, the fans. I will hold it with me for the rest of my life."
Ilacqua sees the Harvard-Yale confrontation as a chance for the Bulldogs to heal old sears. "The pressure is on Harvard. We have nothing to lose since we're not expected to come out of here with a win," Ilacqua says.
Ilacqua has never let negative expectations hold him down--an attitude that means a great deal to his teammates. "Unless we make foolish mistakes and give the ball away, we'll be in the game in the fourth," the captain says, "with a chance to win it."