Man of Mettle

Man of Mettle
Sports - Man of Mettle - Summer 2007

It was at a west coast naval aIr statIon, shortly after wwII, when ted Barclay—then-future Denison soccer, swimming, golf, and lacrosse coach—first served under the command of Rix Yard—then-future Denison lacrosse coach and athletics director. no matter what the situation, Barclay recalls, Yard exhibited the same calm demeanor that would one day define a Denison legend. As Yard’s admirer and friend, Barclay could sense a deeper strength and tenacity in his mentor. Yard’s routines were uncomplicated, and his methods enduring—evident early on as he organized and wrote the navy’s first fitness manual.

Years later at Denison, he quickly became known as “coach” Yard to all students, admired for his character as much as his brilliant success on the lacrosse field. Under his watch, the men’s lacrosse team flourished into champions, due in no small part to Yard’s emphasis on fitness. In 1963, Yard’s final year at Denison before heading to Yulane, he led Denison to an undefeated season, besting the likes of Johns Hopkins, Princeton, Navy, and Cornell. Barclay knew he had witnessed a passion that would resonate in the athletics department for years. as the college’s athletic director, Yard championed all sports, and athletes adored him. as coach, he exhibited an unmatched wisdom. Yet years later, Yard revealed to Barclay a single regret: “He wished he had played the subs more, for they made the starters what they were.”

In a long-awaited April 16 ceremony, a bronze bust of coach Yard was unveiled in the Livingston Gymnasium lobby. Yard himself was unable to attend because of illness, but dozens of family, friends, and former players were there to honor him. among the many salutes and stories, Bruce Mcclintock ’64, the first Denison lacrosse all-American under coach Yard, said, “If I could achieve now what coach Yard set before me then as a team member, then I’d know I’d accomplished something. You just wanted to give your best, which I try to stay true to still.” Barclay, of course, agrees. “I still hope I grow up to be like him someday.”

Published August 2007