Reintroducing Myself

In Aug. 2006, GoMids.com asked if anyone was interested in writing for the site. The ad said that the web site was looking for someone who could pen "voice of the fan" type articles. I replied by saying that "I can write pretty good and I love Navy football." 60 months and about 500 articles later, I'm back at it for another year.

In 2006, my passion for Navy football was unmatched. If former coach Paul Johnson would have adopted me (for some reason he never filled out the paperwork), I would have been in heaven. Of course my man-crush on the aforementioned coach didn't set me up to be the most impartial of writers, but since Navy was in the midst of a great run I figured it would be natural to say glowing things about the Mids each week.

 

So I hit the ground running like a kid in a candy store. It turns out that writing for GoMids.com came with a lot of cool perks. I was able to stalk Paul Johnson attend practices, sit in the press box during games, ask questions of coaches and players after the games, and occasionally run on the field and borrow a few blades of grass after signature wins for my collection.

 

And while the great majority of my articles were about Navy football, in my first year on the job, I tried to sprinkle in some other Navy sports as well, like women's soccer, men's basketball, and others.

 

It took me awhile to get my feet under me and to find ‘my voice' but I think I sort of discovered it after Navy's heartbreaking loss to Boston College in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte on December 30, 1995. I had attended the game with friends instead of as a reporter but I put together an article after the contest probably out of pure frustration. I was pretty pumped up for the game and thought we had a great shot of winning.

 

With the Mids leading by two points and less than two minutes to go, Navy had the ball on the Eagles 47-yard line. Boston College had no timeouts, so the worst-case scenario should have been to punt the ball on fourth down deep into their territory and make Eagles quarterback Matt Ryan drive the ball about 60 yards in about 60 seconds. However, instead of playing it conservative with a fullback dive, Johnson decided to run a triple option play and the usually sure-handed Reggie Campbell fumbled the ball. It was actually his second fumble on that drive – the other one was recovered by a teammate.

 

Boston College took over at the Navy 40-yard line and the rest is not a happy memory. As a result, for the first time that season, as a writer and fan, I was in a difficult position. I really thought Johnson should have played it conservatively and put the game in the hands of his defense that, for the most part, had played brilliantly that day. However, I knew if I was going to criticize him publically, that it wouldn't go over well. I didn't know what the repercussions would be exactly – whether it would just be a tongue-lashing or worse…like going back on his offer to have me in for a film session.

 

So I did what any fan who thought he knew it all would do – I not only criticized Johnson for the end of the game, but also for not kicking a field goal late in the first half to put the team up by two scores. The former Navy coach chose to go for it on fourth and one from the Eagles' 19 yard line and Kaipo Noa Kaheaku-Enhada was stuffed.

 

My first interview with Johnson after the bowl game was a bit rough and his reneging on the film session was unfortunate, but I felt good for standing up for myself – and perhaps a lot of fans out there who thought, for once, that Johnson rolled the dice too many times in a game and it backfired. It wasn't as if I called for his firing or anything. I actually said that for his blunder he needed to sign a long-term extension to stay in Annapolis. But it was criticism and the folks at Navy didn't appreciate it.

 

It may seem like somewhat of a trivial turn of events, but for me it was definitely a turning point in how I covered Navy sports – and the Naval Academy in general. Since that time, I have looked at events in Annapolis with a more critical eye and in the process I'm sure I've disappointed some loyal Navy fans who believe the school can do no wrong. Although about 97% of my articles have either been benign game stories or glowing feature articles about midshipmen athletes, the other 3% have gotten most of the attention on the message boards. From calling out the Navy leadership for not sending more members of the Brigade of Midshipmen to the 2007 opener against Temple in Philadelphia to finding significant flaws in how the whole Marcus Curry debacle was handled, I've done my best to be honest, and more important, accurate in my reporting.

 

I thought that 2010 was going to be my last year covering Navy athletics because my children, Delaney, 6, and Will, 4, are getting to that age where I hope they will get involved with competitive sports…and as much as I enjoy writing, I know I will enjoy coaching little league much more. It turns out I may have one more season to go before I go down that road of teaching the finer art of catching or kicking a ball. One thing I know for sure is when that day comes it will be a bit of a relief because covering a sports team – even part-time - is not easy. I have come to really appreciate what the Bill Wagner's of the world have to go through each football season. It is a grind that requires much sacrifice and very little in the way of glory or compensation. I've been lucky because it's only a part-time gig for me which allows for some semblance of a life away from it.

 

So unless there is some last minute coaching vacancy that presents itself in the greater Crofton, Maryland area in the coming weeks, I'm digging in my heels and getting ready to do my best to cover Navy football from a fan's perspective in 2011. I hope you enjoy what I write and even if you don't I hope you visit GoMids.com and let everyone know what you think. I believe it is still the best place for Navy fans to congregate and I look forward to asking the questions that you want answered.

 

 

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If you have a story idea for David, please send him an email at offtheyard@gmail.com.


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