ANNAPOLIS, MD – A team of contenders will travel 230 miles to deliver a soccer ball for this weekend’s Army-Navy game in New Jersey. The US Naval Academy will also be holding a cheering rally ahead of its 122nd game against the US Military Academy at West Point.
Game ball race
Around 150 contenders will gather at T-Court at noon on Thursday for a motivating kick-off to the ball race. The 13th Company will divide the trip to the New York suburbs into 22 stages of approximately 9.7 miles each. The superintendent, commanding officer and deputy commanding officer of the Naval Academy will all participate in the first stage.
The 40th annual race will last 43 hours. The tradition began in 1982 as a way to keep the “unlucky” 13th Company away from the Naval Academy.
Army Cadets will run their own game ball from their New York campus. Both teams will run onto the field before the competition to present their game balls.
“The Army-Navy Balloon Race has become a very lively event, demonstrating the pride and enthusiasm of the entire Midshipman Brigade,” the Naval Academy said in a press release.
The “Beat Army” cheering rally begins Thursday at 7pm at T-Court. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice-Admiral Sean Buck and other principals will speak during the hour-long event.
Soccer players and cheerleaders will swell the crowd before the Naval Academy Drum and Bugle Corps performs “Anchors Aweigh”. The brigade will sing the academy’s alma mater, “Navy Blue and Gold,” at the end of the rally.
Midshipmen and Cadets will also compete in the Patriot Games to test their strength, endurance and teamwork. Games begin Friday at the American Dream Mall near the stadium. They continue on Saturday on the field with an obstacle relay for teams of 10. Other competitions include a tug of war and a pull challenge.
The Midshipmen (3-8) face the Army Black Knights (8-3) on Saturday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Kick-off is at 3 p.m. CBS will broadcast the game nationwide.