If you have been to a Navy football game this season and are able to see the lower half of the stands where the Brigade of Midshipmen sit, chances are you have noticed that a few dozen mids arrive before march-on and don’t wear their traditional uniforms. These midshipmen make up the Blue and Gold section, and their job during each game is to do everything they can to influence the outcome of the game. And if they do a good job – they may be asked to come back for the next game. And if they don’t perform well, they will return to the Brigade at large.
The mids who get to make the decision as to who can be a part of this unique and spirited group of fans are known inside Bancroft Hall as Team Awesome. And believe it or not, Team Awesome even has a president. Currently that title belongs to Midshipman First Class Whitney Krese, 21, a political science major from Lexington, South Carolina.
According to Naval Academy officials, Team Awesome is a core team of eight First Class Midshipmen who embody the ideal spirit of the Brigade, but as Krese explains the group used to be smaller – before they received a pretty important endorsement.
“It started out with four members and when I started out as (president) this year that is all I thought we would have. However the new commandant was really excited about it and we were allowed to increase it to eight,” said Krese.
According to Krese, Team Awesome used to be more of a “funny group of mids who just dressed up on the sidelines” for Navy football games to cheer on the team. However, this select group has become an organized unit whose members must meet a certain standard in order to be selected to join.
“The members are people who have been previously known to be outgoing, loud, and spirited – people who really love Navy football,” explains Krese, who was able to hand pick the other seven midshipmen to join Team Awesome.
“A good example is someone who really cares about Navy football – not somebody who just sits at the game trying to pass time. They have to be really into it.”
Krese said that members of Team Awesome also need to know the rules of the game because cheering at the wrong time, like when the Navy offense needs the stadium to be quiet, could compromise their purpose. And make no mistake their number-one purpose is pretty clear – to help the team win.
In order to help their cause, during each game Krese and her fellow Team Awesome members search for 60 or so midshipmen to make up the Blue and Gold section.
“Each week we print off laminated passes and each quarter we go through the Brigade and watch for mids who are really loud and really spirited…dancing…screaming, whatever. Those mids get a pass (from us) and it allows them to bring a person of their choice to the Blue and Gold section for the next home game,” said Krese.
There are rules for midshipmen who are chosen to take part in this fairly new tradition explains Krese.
“You have to be in Navy-related spirit gear, and you have to have clothes on at all times. You can paint your arms and legs though.”
One group of midshipmen who consistently try to join the Blue and Gold section for each game is the freshman or plebe class. For them, the opportunity to get out of their traditional uniform, miss the formal march-on, and just yell like crazy is as good of a deal as any they will find during their initial year at the Academy.
“Plebes don’t get laminated tickets until the 4th quarter, and we can only give out three passes (for plebes). But, they are supposed to be loud anyway,” said Krese.
One person who probably has an open invitation to join the Blue and Gold section is the Commandant of Midshipmen, Capt. Matthew L. Klunder.
“The Commandant is onboard wholeheartedly with our efforts. He is excited about what we are doing, and he has been really supportive with Team Awesome,” said Matt Intoccia, 22, of King of Prussia, PA, and one of Krese’s fellow Team Awesome members. “(Captain Klunder has led) a new push for (the Brigade) being one big family – uniting behind one another in competition.”
In an email to GoMids.com, Klunder spoke highly of Team Awesome and their ability to raise the spirits of the Academy. He also pointed out the results on the field don’t hurt either.
“When Navy is winning, morale improves. Anytime we find a good, respectful, and fun way to increase the Navy spirit within the Brigade and amongst the fans we will try to continue that effort,” wrote Klunder.
And even though Team Awesome has yet to extend a formal invitation for the commandant to join the rowdiness, that didn’t stop GoMids.com from asking him if he could possibly find himself in the melee this Saturday during the Temple game.
“There is always a chance! Keep your eyes out,” hinted Klunder.
A Blue and Gold section pass has also not yet been made available for one of the many Air Force or Army exchange students who are spending a semester studying at the Naval Academy. However, Intoccia has not ruled out having a cadet join their ranks.
“If they are rooting for the right team, it’s possible. What greater spirit could we provide to the Brigade then one of Air Force – well not Air Force – but Army’s own coming over to the blue side,” said Intoccia.
It turns out that if Intoccia happens to run into one of the West Point exchange students, he would have another question to ask. In a recent national broadcast of an Army football game, it appeared that the Corps of Cadets had started using a very familiar Navy chant as if it was their own. When GoMids.com informed Intoccia that the Army faithful were chanting, “I believe that we will win,” the economics major was flabbergasted.
“Oh no - I didn’t just hear that. That’s our chant,” fumed Intoccia.
Klunder also chimed in on the apparent cheer theft, and even though he acknowledged an inability on the Naval Academy’s part to copyright the popular chant, it didn’t stop him from firing a shot up the Hudson River.
“Here at the Academy, that battle cry really became popular around 1999. I think there are a couple cheerleading movies about the repercussions of stealing cheers, but if it is true that Army is now doing it, I can guess that some of the young cadets at West Point probably aren’t even aware that it is a NAVY cheer,” said Klunder. “...but I should also say that if it is an Army-Navy game, and the Corps of Cadets join the Brigade of Midshipmen in our own cheer, I’d be surprised if Army would have a chance in victory on the field.”
The football field is not the only place where you will find members of Team Awesome. According to Intoccia, they are also involved in other sporting events as well as special events around the Yard including the Navy birthday celebration.
“Obviously the football games are the easiest because everybody has to go. So logistically speaking it is the most likely to happen. But we have made smaller efforts to get out to other events when we can,” said Intoccia.
And while Team Awesome and the Blue and Gold section has received considerable support from the Brigade and the Naval Academy administration, there are still critics of the group to be found on the world-wide-web.
Some Navy football fans and alumni have questioned on internet message boards whether or not it makes sense for midshipmen to be acting like “silly civilians” while representing the military at football games.
Perhaps these die-hard football fans and out-of-touch traditionalists would like to know what Navy’s head football coach thinks of Team Awesome and their group of Blue and Gold bandits.
“They are phenomenal. Sometimes I don’t get to see them, but I can always hear them. I think during the Rutgers game they actually helped us win,” said Ken Niumatalolo. “The support of the entire brigade has been great.”
“We live and breathe Navy football here. There is really no other way to put it,” said Intoccia.
No, there isn’t.
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