Commentary: West Point football proves to be fun for all
September 21, 2009
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Many know that West Point is the oldest of America's military academies rich with a distinguished culture and a history that includes alums President Ulysses S.Grant and General Robert E. Lee, but few probably know that it is also a place to have a great time on a football Saturday.
That's right, not only does this academy boast some of the most famous military minds in America, but also some of the greatest football traditions in the Northeast.
From the time you arrive at West Point on game day there is a slew of activities all over the campus. Whether you are in the mood for morning coffee with the parents, or outdoor activities in Knight Alley, there is something exciting for everyone.
For morning coffee, parents and friends gather and socialize about campus happenings and the day's events. This is a great opportunity for parents to get the inside scoop about their students and the activities they are partaking in on campus. If you've had your fill of coffee, it might be time to wander over to the stadium and partake in the pregame hubbub that happens there.
Knight Alley is filled with booths, performers, food and special events. The West Point gymnastics team flipping for the crowd, a children's rock band performing a jaw dropping rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing", and enough West Point gear for sale to clothe a small nation can all be expected in the Alley before the game.
Across campus, families gather by the rugby facility for a pre-game ritual that is a tradition at campuses across the nation. Fans grill and tailgate in the designated field, while children play football emulating their favorite Black Knight. Team spirit is evident with West Point flags flying, and fans getting ready to watch the game.
Inside the stadium, the crowd buzzes with whispers of a great team with an unexpected leader in Plebe Quarterback Trent Steelman. With a new quarterback and a new head coach, this could be a very good year for the Black Knights.
The Army vs. Duke game was the Hall of Fame game, and new Hall of Famers were featured in Knight Alley for autographs before the game. The new Hall of Famers were Bill Carpenter, Ralph Chesnauskas, Tracy Hanlon, Mike Krzyzewski, Ray Murphy, Nicki Robbins, Jack Rust and Thomas Truxtun. These West Point alum were welcomed back with open arms by the whole Academy as yet another example of how deep the West Point waters of tradition run.
As the team rushes on the field and West Point cadets and cheerleaders station themselves for the showdown, it is obvious that this will be a very entertaining game. Usually the game ball is brought in by the Black Knights parachute team, but today because of the bleak and rainy weather it is brought to the umpires by an adorable little toddler dressed in camouflage.
The entertainment continues throughout the game as Plebes are required to do pushups for every point scored by the Black Knights. Because space is very limited in the cadet student section, it is common to see a Plebe overlap on a friend as they do their pushups on the field. Sometimes Soldiers and cadets alike must do pushups as a deterrent from bad behavior in a training situation, but these pushups are for a different cause. "Doing pushups is my favorite part of the game," said Plebe Vincent Bramble. "It means we scored."
"Traditions like doing pushups bring camaraderie to corp. It really brings cadets together, and of course it's fun too," the cadet said.
Not only do the cadets participate by attending the game and doing pushups in the stands, but on the field, a number of West Pointers partake as cheerleaders, student band, and rabble rousers. Dressed in unique West Point based outfits, rabble rousers hype the crowd, and start cheers in the stands.
It's easy to see why West Point has such a loyal band of enthusiasts. Through their rich history and unique set of football traditions on and off the field, it makes for an enjoyable experience for any football fanatic no matter how many games you've attended.
Whether you are an Army veteran or just a football devotee, a trip to West Point will definitely have you saying, "Beat Navy!"