Army-Navy football game draws large crowd

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 20:00
Players are ‘cream of the crop' student athletes
(Above left) Dave Bergman, a 1989 United States Naval Academy graduate, does pushups following a touchdown during the Army-Navy football game Dec. 10 at the Eagle River Ale House. (Above) Army football fans celebrate a touchdown. Navy won the game, 27-21, for its 10th victory in a row.

Covered head to toe in blue and gold windbreaker pants and jacket, Pat McBride stuck out like … well, a Navy fan among a sea of Army faithful.

McBride and fellow United States Naval Academy graduate Dave Bergman might have been in the extreme minority watching the 112th Army-Navy Game on Saturday, Dec. 10 at Eagle River Ale House, but that didn’t dampen their spirits one bit.

“No matter where you are in the world, you always try to find another guy to watch the game with — even if they’re Army,” quipped Bergman, a 1989 graduate.

About 50 people packed the upstairs room and witnessed a 27-21 Navy win — the Midshipmen’s 10th straight over the Black Knights. Navy leads the series 56-49-7.

Chris Tomsen, a 1977 United States Military Academy graduate, has organized a large viewing party for the game the past four years. Tomsen said the event is a good way for the community to interact with the military.

“This is one way to bring a little contact with the public,” he said.

It’s also a chance to support his alma mater, Tomsen said.

“I want to promote the visibility of West Point,” he said.

McBride, a 2000 Naval Academy graduate, said he never misses the annual matchup.

“It’s the big rivalry. It’s always fun,” he said.

The jawing back and forth between Army and Navy loyalists stops once the game is over, said Hazen Baron, president of the West Point Society of Alaska.

“It’s almost like a rugby club spirit,” he said. “There’s no real animosity between us.”

Both sides are pals 364 days a year, Tomsen said.

“We’re comrades in arms every day except one,” he joked.

The game reflects the character of the United States, Tomsen said.

“It’s a showing of strong hearts,” he said. “Bringing the American spirit to the public.”

Baron, also a 1977 West Point graduate, played defensive end for Army for four years. What’s unique about the game, he said, is the high academic standards each man on the gridiron is held to.

“You’re talking about real scholar athletes,” Baron said. “This is like football used to be in the 50s and 60s before academic criteria was dropped by universities.”

Though no “blue chip” athletes are likely to don an Army or Navy jersey, Baron said, the Midshipmen and Black Knights are more well-rounded individuals.

“You get extremely versatile guys,” he said. “You get the cream of the crop in athletics and academics.”


Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or [email protected]

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