In American sports culture, football dominates the airwaves and most sports fans are aware of Navy’s disappointing 3-10 season that included a loss to both Air Force and Army. While men’s basketball receives the next highest coverage in NCAA athletics, 2018 wasn’t too kind to the Midshipmen there either. Yet, while two of the more well-known programs may look at 2018 as a year to forget, other Navy sports programs saw plenty of success. Volleyball won the Patriot League tournament and qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time in history. Rife and Squash currently sit at eighth in the country in their respective national polls. Baseball went 38-16, totaling the second-most wins in program history, sprint football defeated Army to win the CSFL Championship, and both men’s and women’s swimming and diving won another Patriot League title. And of course we can’t forget the women’s lacrosse team making it to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament before falling 17-15 to Maryland.
So, needless to say, 2018 had its up and its downs. Thankfully, the new year is nearly synonymous with “resolution” or “reset” and some Navy athletic programs will use 2019 as an opportunity to do just that. 2018 provided us the roller coaster that goes along with being a college sports fan and that is part of the fun. But to help make the most out of 2019, let’s identify three new year’s resolutions for the Navy athletics program.
1. Students and fans should attend more sporting events.
Yeah, I said it. But look, I used to be a student. I get it. Time is of the essence. Between all of the studying and mandatory events throughout the week it is hard to find time for yourself (although somehow my roommates and I completed five years of dynasty mode in NCAA ’06). But, one of my biggest regrets from my days as a Midshipmen was my low sporting event attendance. I wish I would have gone to more games. I miss the opportunity to watch D-1 basketball. I miss the sound of the bat to a ball on a warm spring day. While lacrosse is expanding across the country and has made its way to Florida, I still wish I was watching in the sport’s capital – the state of Maryland. I am not saying you need to attend an event each week, but as a fan base let’s commit to watching as often as we can. Students, you benefit from the success of sports teams. Midshipmen are often rewarded for not only big athletic wins but also through a showing of support. The beauty of all living together in Bancroft Hall is that there is no shortage of opportunity to show support not just for the teams themselves, but for your friends, classmates, and company mates.
2. Win the recruiting, social media, and creative design game.
Reading a Navy athletics themed new year’s resolution list wouldn’t be complete without a “Beat Army” in there somewhere but making that a resolution itself would be too vague and cliché. I am not claiming that Navy is losing the recruiting battle in any particular sport, in fact, season results would show that there is a lot of parity between all three service academies. While the end-results are “close,” Army has certainly upped their game in the above mentioned categories while Navy has taken staff hits in the same roles. Sean Magee served as the Director of Player Personnel for five years at Navy before Jim Harbaugh recognized his talent and scooped him away in 2017. Michael Conway used to serve as the Director of Football Creative Design for Navy and was one of the best in his craft. He left Navy in August to become the Director of Recruiting Content at Northwestern. One month later Navy lost their Digital Content Specialist, Michael Pristouris, to the Utah Jazz. Now, the Naval Academy Athletic Association recently hired Molly Marshall as its Creative Director just last month, but the void in that position throughout the season was evident. In order to “beat Army” on the field, Navy needs to pay special attention to the relationship between digital content, marketing, and player personnel (recruiting) in the growing era of social and digital media’s impact on millennial athletes.
3. Return to the basics.
The last resolution is football specific. Let’s return to the basics and see that triple option at work. I admit you don’t come to me for the X’s and O’s about offensive and defensive schemes, but there are plenty of people I trust and know that understand the triple option and say Navy has lost its way. That isn’t to say the wrinkles don’t serve a purpose, but to even the casual fan you would notice the 2018 season wasn’t what you were used to since the turn of the millennium. It wasn’t just the win-loss column that stuck out, it was the missed blocks, the “misreads”, and the overall lack of true triple option plays. A commitment to return to the triple option basics should bring back that fun and efficient offense Navy fans have grown to love.
Happy New Year Navy fans - here’s to a successful 2019