NAVY: Pregame fly­over sets the stage for a once in a life­time ex­pe­ri­ence

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS - Andy Per­son Spe­cial for USA TO­DAY

I still have dreams at night where I am get­ting ready for the Army/Navy game.

The big­gest pre-game rush is the fly­over. The roar of Navy’s fighter jets and Army’s Black­hawk he­li­copters over the sta­dium is a once in a life­time ex­pe­ri­ence and mo­ment of true hu­mil­ity. The fact that we are play­ing for our na­tion’s armed forces puts ev­ery­thing into per­spec­tive. It still gives me chills.

We are a Navy fam­ily. Three of my broth­ers (Joe, Chris, and Dan) and I played for Navy foot­ball. Don’t tell any­one, but I lost all four years against Army, a few com­ing in the last sec­onds. If not for my broth­ers beat­ing Army, that would still bother me to this day. I re­mem­ber cheer­ing them on in the mid­dle of the ocean hud­dled over a tele­vi­sion while serv­ing on an air­craft car­rier.

The Army/Navy game sym­bol­izes the best of what col­lege foot­ball was meant to be. Ev­ery­one is play­ing for a higher pur­pose.

There are no self­ish, all-about-me egos. Just plain foot­ball with the tough­est guys I have ever met on both sides of the ball.

Both coach­ing staffs get it too, led by the finest lead­ers in col­lege foot­ball - Coach Ken Ni­u­mat­alolo of Navy and Coach Jeff Monken of Army. They un­der­stand that Army/Navy goes be­yond foot­ball.

The only hard part of the day is the mem­ory of class­mates and he­roes no longer with us. Maybe that’s why I still like the fly­over.

Andy Per­son was a de­fen­sive end for the U.S. Naval Academy and is part of the Class of 1996.

Both coach­ing staffs get it. ... They un­der­stand that Army/Navy goes be­yond foot­ball.

Andy Per­son

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.