Harvard-Yale Football Rivalry Is at Wall Street Decathlon

Former Yale University football captain Tom McCarthy just missed a top-three finish in his first Wall Street Decathlon last year when he was passed in the final event.

If that wasn’t disappointing enough, it was a former Harvard football captain -- whom he faced on the gridiron in college -- that did it.

McCarthy, an ex-defensive lineman who’s now a fixed-income sales analyst at Morgan Stanley, finished fourth overall in the charity competition to crown Wall Street’s best all-around athlete. One spot ahead was Collin Zych, an associate at Cogent Partners in Dallas, where he briefly spent time with the National Football League’s Cowboys as a free agent in 2011.

“It was great to rekindle that competitive spirit that we have between the two of us,” the 6-foot-6 McCarthy said. “It’s a healthy, respectful competitiveness. It’s great and really adds to the day.”

Zych, 25, was Harvard University’s football captain in 2010, the same year McCarthy, also 25, was captain of the Yale team. Although they’ve since swapped their football uniforms for business suits, the two will renew their Ivy League-rooted rivalry in this year’s RBC Decathlon, which will be held June 22 at St. John’s University.

The 10-event competition was created in 2009 and has raised about $3.5 million for cancer research. Last year, the event drew a field of about 170 financial industry workers and brought in more than $1.4 million for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

Mark Rubin, 28, of Barclays Plc, a former Pennsylvania State University safety who spent time in the NFL, has won the overall competition the past two years and will be seeking a third this weekend. Along with prizes for the top three finishers, there’s a women’s champion and awards for the top executives and in several age groups.

Squeaking By

“Tom and I were really close last year,” Zych, who played safety at Harvard, said in a telephone interview. “He was beating me going into the last event, the 800 meters, and somehow I squeaked by. He used to be a D-lineman, so I should do better than him in the 800, I should think.”

The competition, which will be held at St. John’s DaSilva Memorial Field in the Queens Borough of New York City, includes three running events at distances of 40 yards, 400 meters and 800 meters. It also includes pull-ups, a football throw, an agility drill, a 500-meter stationary row, vertical jump, bench press and dips -- a triceps exercise where competitors lift their own body weight.

McCarthy and Zych aren’t the only ex-Ivy League football players participating, as Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, Brown University and Columbia University are also represented.

Other Participants

Two other former Yale football players -- defensive lineman Jacob Stoller of Barclays and quarterback Bryan Farris of UBS AG -- join McCarthy in the competition. Ex-Harvard defensive back Jonathan Mason is in the team division as part of a three-man contingent from JP Morgan Chase that includes Jason Price, a former All-American sprinter from the University of Southern California, and Phillip Alexander, who had a brief NFL stint after playing linebacker at Duke University.

“It’s nice to see a lot of Ivy League football guys back in the same place,” Zych said. “They’re great athletes and terrific competition for this event, which at the end of the day is a great cause.”

‘The Game’

The Harvard-Yale rivalry is one of the oldest in college football, dating back to 1875, and their annual meeting is known by many simply as “The Game.” Although Yale, of New Haven, Connecticut, holds a 65-57-8 series lead, Harvard, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has won seven straight meetings and 12 of the past 13. That’s not lost on Yale’s McCarthy, who spent time in NFL training camps with the Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars before sticking to Wall Street.

“I haven’t forgotten about that,” McCarthy, who raised almost $14,000 in donations last year, said with a laugh. “I know about those times on the football field, and it would be nice to go out there on Sunday and perform, that’s for sure.”