You never know in this business when your lines are going to cross in a most beneficial way.
This fall, I have been spending a lot of time, prior to the UConn basketball season, writing about Yale football. I love Yale football. I love drinking Dunkin Donuts coffee at Yale Bowl on Saturday morning. I love talking to quarterbacks who are English majors and defensive backs who are classical pianists.
Well, today I had a chance to meet Yale’s junior kicker and punter, Kyle Cazzetta. And who was one of his best friends growing up in Slate Hill,, N.Y?
Yes, UConn center Stefanie Dolson.
“I’ve known Stefanie since I was in eighth grade,” Cazzetta said. “She’s a year older than me. But she started playing varsity basketball when we were in the middle school. We had the same group of friends for a long time and I knew her very well all through our high school years (Minisink Valley HS).
“Stef is very hard working and very determined on the court, and because of that she is very successful. But off the court she is one of the nicest, happiest people I have ever met. There is not a person on the bad side of her.
“She has always been the fun and happy girl, the one always dancing and in a good mood. Everyone was always happy to be around her.”
Cazzetta, who kicked two field goals, landed two punts inside the Dartmouth 20 and blasted four kickoffs for touch backs last week, is making a nice career for himself in the Ivy League. And he is not surprised to see what’s become of Dolson as an elite athlete.
“I doesn’t surprise me. She was a great player from the day she started. Watching her play in high school you would notice all the big-time coaches come to town,” Cazzetta said. “Pat Summitt was there from Tennessee and, of course, we’d always see Geno [Auriemma]. We’d think to ourselves, ‘Wow, this is very impressive.
“And as a college athlete, I understand that coaches often recruit based on potential. And you could see how dominating she was in high school and how much potential she had to grow. You knew once a coach like Geno got a hold of Stefanie that the potential would be immediately realized.”
Cazzetta only has basic cable in his room at Yale, so he’s limited in how much he has been able to watch Dolson play.
“It’s tough for us now to see a lot of each other because we are so busy,” Cazzetta said. “But she came to New Haven this summer with some of her friends and we hung out for a while. We still text and keep in touch on Facebook. Our families are still close to each other back home.We come from a small town. Everyone knows each other, including my younger sister and Stefanie’s brother.
“When they play a big-time opponent and I am to watch it, it’s great to see someone who know so well play like that.”