Last year, Navy fans were up in arms when first-year superintendent, Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler decided to institute several new policies including one that limited the amount of midshipmen who were allowed to travel to away football games. In an interview with GoMids.com last September, USNA officials explained the change by saying:
"The decision to limit away football game travel by midshipmen was not driven by budgetary issues, but rather its intent to ensure midshipmen remain focused on moral, mental, and physical development. All other activity is secondary, optional, and conditional. To this end the superintendent intends to remove distractions and guide development."
Furthermore, Fowler and former Commandant of Midshipmen, Margaret Klein were widely quoted as saying that since the
For the second game of the season, a nationally televised Friday night game at
After the next three games, all at Navy-Marine Corps Stadium, the administration faced another decision. How many midshipmen would be allowed to travel to the Pitt game? It was another nationally-televised event, but since it was on a Wednesday night, there were still concerns about midshipmen missing class. In an exclusive interview with Klein, GoMids.com found out that for the Pitt game, 200 Mids were going to be allowed to travel if they met certain performance requirements; and furthermore, every member of the Brigade left behind in
It was a noticeable shift in policy, or as Klein called it, both sides – the midshipmen and the administration were "evolving." Regardless of what it was referred to as, the change was welcomed by Naval Academy Athletic Director Chet Gladchuk, who on Monday confirmed things got better as the year progressed.
"We started out where the superintendent wanted to keep [midshipmen] focused on their studies, and kind of bring things back a little bit. But as the season went along last year, I think we saw a number of Mids traveling [to] games and I think we had about 1,000 at Notre Dame," said Gladchuk.
"When the admiral felt that the academic priorities were squared away on the yard and the study hall habits were more under control, he became much more receptive to considering letting the Mids travel to the away games."
In no game, perhaps in the history of the
"It was an incredible show of strength. Those 1,000 Mids were louder than 75,000 [Notre Dame] fans during the overtime. It was just a great exchange between our fans and our midshipmen and the players on the field. There was an appreciation that we were in it together," said Gladchuk.
Navy went on to win their next three games and finished the year with an impressive 4-1 record on the road.
Fortunately for Navy fans, the football team and all midshipmen who love to support their team, it seems as though the momentum from last year has continued under the leadership of Fowler and the new Commandant of Midshipmen, Navy Capt. Matthew L. Klunder.
"This year the new commandant has been very supportive and the superintendent has been supporting the commandant…we are just fortunate that there is a game plan this year that covers all of the away games with some number of midshipmen attending," said Gladchuk.
According to USNA spokesman Cmdr. Joe Carpenter, the Academy "anticipates that about 400 midshipmen will be able to travel to the games at Duke,
These movement orders come on the heels of 500 midshipmen being able to make the trip to
"They were a wonderful, powerful factor in the [
One of the major factors in allowing more midshipmen to travel to away games this season was a significant decrease in the amount of classes that were missed by the Brigade during the previous academic year.
"We looked at their schedules closely last year and have improved the balance between academic and military responsibilities and free time," said Carpenter. "Fortunately, we were able to reduce their amount of missed classes by about 20% - and as a result - have afforded more opportunities for midshipmen to travel to away football games and support our team."
That support, and moreover the relationship between the brigade and the football team is something Gladchuk says has always been a priority for him.
"You know we've worked on that for years and years. We had to recalibrate a little bit last year with the academics but we are back on track and I feel good about it."
"[The administration] realizes that football drives a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and spirit on the Yard. It's really important that the program succeeds. A football team can't do it all by themselves. They look to the Brigade and the fans for the emotional support that is sometimes necessary to get them up over the tough times," continued Gladchuk. "The more that we can keep that glued together, both at home and on the road, the better we are going to be in terms of winning as an institution at large."
Navy's athletic director also believes that Vice Adm. Fowler is committed to supporting all Navy sports programs – not just the football team.
"The superintendent has made it perfectly clear that he wants the varsity programs to succeed and that he is committed to providing the resources necessary to help us get there. He is very visibly involved in terms of everything he can possibly do to engage the Brigade. Right now we are on a roll again and things are pretty close to being back on track," said Gladchuk.
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