Tuesday, 16 February 2016

DAVE REVENAUGH, IN MEMORIAM

My college football teammate, and Wesleyan classmate, Dave Revenaugh, died recently. Rev was, to me, a force of nature: and there's a nice photo from our 30th reunion in 2002 that to me captures our essences just as they were in 1968-72. I saw Rev once or twice after that, but we never really got the chance to talk with as much relaxation as that night: though I also recall he ducked out of the reunion dinner just afterwards. We shared one other thing: he had his final child even later than I had my first, and we both named the boys Nathaniel. 

Rev was probably the best football player on our undefeated team. I'd managed to get Herb Kenny, one of our coaches, to be a guest speaker at the dinner, and talking with him he told me what a coup getting Rev to come to Wesleyan was. 'He was a legit Div One player, Herb said, 'and we didn't get those guys usually'. Of course Herb got another one, Rev's friend Jim Akin, for his basketball team that year too. I knew his reputation from Fairfield Prep, and playing both ways with him on our minescule freshman team, I got to see first-hand what an explosive, fully committed 6-1 225 pound force he was. I also came to understand, talking with him, that he had chosen Wesleyan because he wanted to be challenged in other places than the football field.

We went undefeated and won the Little Three in 1969. I'm present in the pictures of Rev making the game-winning TD catch against Williams that year, doing my best celebration leap having cleared the zone out for him. My claim to football fame.

I remember two Rev stories, both from our senior year. That year Bill MacDermott decided to switch our offense to an I formation. As the tailback, Ed Tabor lost his ability to gain yardage by his quickness through the hole, and wasn't great at taking the option pitch. As a fullback, Rev had his vision and foot-quickness taken away: he could dance through a hole and outrun people, even though he was one of the biggest guys on our team. The previous year we'd set some sort of New England record for rushing yards per game. It wasn't broke.

During the football season, I timed a trip badly, and when I went to practice I was still psychedelicizing. Calesthenics were proving a challenge. At one point, trying desperately to get my situps right, I looked over at Rev, lying next to me. He smiled. 'You too?' he said.

That spring Rev decided to play lacrosse. We were on our preseason southern tour, playing our southernmost game at Princeton. As we walked out to the field (where, as I recall, we drew with the Ivory Leaguers, as Mac would call them) we passed the Princeton Cyclotron. Rev looked at it, and at me. 'They even have a bicyling team here?' he asked, and to this day I'm not convinced he was putting me on.

There was no better competitor, no one you'd rather have as a teammate. It was a joy and a privilege to have played with him, gone to school with him, and to have known him. RIP Rev.

2 comments :

Nancy Evans said...

Thank you so much for posting this lovely memory. It feels so good that there's someone else out there remembering him, memorializing him. And it's true about Div 1. He was flying all over the country his junior and senior years being courted by all the usual suspects and he'd come back and say that's not all that I am. Wesleyan was the perfect place. And, boy, was it fun to watch him play football. And rugby. And, do you remember, he even did crew one year. Forgot about lacrosse. Thank you.

Michael Carlson said...

I didn't recall the crew at all. He was a fine athlete. Karl Schumacher wrote a lovely appreciation of Dave--you could find it on Seth Davis' or my facebook accounts...or maybe Schu's