On January 30th, Yale University hosted a unique Master’s Tea at Davenport College that gave students a chance to speak with leading motorcycle racers and coaches to discuss how the same skills that produce excellence on a bike can translate into excellence in the students’ lives.
Master’s teas are a Yale tradition. Each of Yale’s twelve residential Colleges host Master’s teas that allow students to engage with leaders in business, academia, and popular culture in a less formal setting. Previous guests have included Denzel Washington, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and Utah Governor Jon Huntsman.
This January, Davenport College hosted, “Excellence in Motion: What Motorcycle Racing Can Teach Us About Success”. The event featured Yamaha Champions Riding School Instructors Ken Hill and Nick Ienatsch, together with motorcycle racing legend and YCRS instructor Scott Russell, and BMX vert ramp legend and 12-time X-Games medal winner Jamie Bestwick. That’s right; Mr. Daytona and the rest of the YCRS team came to Yale.
Zack Cooper, a Yale Professor, had enrolled in the Yamaha Champions Riding School as a complete novice. At the event, Cooper said, “I was blown away by YCRS. It got me hooked on riding, but more than that, I was just so impressed with how well the program was taught and with the lessons it could potentially have for our students. What really got me was the passion Nick, Ken, and Scott had for the sport and their ability teach. As an educator, I was truly impressed”.
Over a van ride on the second day, Cooper and Bestwick hatched the idea of holding an event at Yale. “Jamie and I were chatting about the program and how each of us viewed riding in the context of our day to day jobs. And the idea came to us. I wanted the students to think about not only why we would do a sport like this, but what a sport like motorcycle racing could teach them about how to excel inside and outside of the classroom and how to find their passion”.
“Ken, Nick, Scott, and Jamie were terrific. Very few people can say that they’re the best in the world at what they do. Scott and Jamie told the
students why they thought they were successful. Likewise, Ken and Nick spoke a great deal about how they teach and why folks who don’t ride a motorcycle for a living can benefit from the school,” Cooper said.
The Master’s tea was attended by over 40 students and Yale faculty. Students even had the jump on a Yamaha R6 brought to Yale by Libby’s Motorsports in New Haven, and play with Cooper’s Dainese riding gear and a Screamin’ Chief Arai helmet. After the event, the guests had a chance to talk about everything from classroom lectures to starting line crashes at Daytona to the body position of Jorge Lorenzo.
The guest riders were astounded at the beautiful world of Yale and truly enjoyed bringing their world to the students and faculty. Is a Yale track day next?