The Coast Guard Academy and the Merchant Marine Academy will face each other in a few different sports this season, the two Service Academies announced earlier this week.
Contests in women’s volleyball, men’s soccer and football have been scheduled between the two Division III rivals and those games will count for the annual Superintendents’ Trophy that Coast Guard and Merchant Marine vie for every year.
Coast Guard will host the volleyball match on Oct. 24, men’s soccer will be played at Coast Guard on Oct. 31, and the Bears will travel to the Mariners for football on Nov. 14.
“I am very excited to announce our intention to compete in single game competition with the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy this fall in the sports of volleyball, men’s soccer and football,” Coast Guard AD Dr. Dan Rose said in a statement. “This decision was arrived at following close examination of our current safety protocols and a commitment to follow NCAA guidance with regard to testing and other resocialization of sport standards.”
“This is extremely exciting news for our student-athletes, coaches, fans and the entire Academy community,” USMMA Athletic Director Kristofer Schnatz said in a statement. “The health and safety of our Midshipmen have always been of the utmost importance throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic, and our campus has been working hard to maintain a healthy ‘bubble’ for several months, isolating our community to the best of our ability. We recently introduced fall team practices following CDC recommendations and institutional safety protocols and they have been going well. We are excited to begin preparing for competition again and we are thrilled that we were able to find a way to keep this rivalry going, these are important games for both academies”
The academies of the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines have battled for the Superintendents’ Trophy since the 2002-03 school year. The trophy is presented by either the Secretary of Homeland Security (who oversees the Coast Guard Academy) or the Secretary of Transportation (who oversees the Merchant Marine Academy). The Bears have won the trophy 14 times.
“I’m just thankful that our seniors get to play at least one game this year and to have it be against the Merchant Marine Academy makes it all the more special,” Coast Guard football coach C.C. Grant said.
In volleyball, the Mariners haven’t beat the Bears since 2015. In men’s soccer, three of the meetings between the two academies since 2015 have been decided by a goal or less. The Mariners have a 26-13 all-time lead over Coast Guard in football and won the annual Secretaries’ Cup game 56-41 last year.
While many Division III schools are hoping to play in the spring, that won’t really work for the Mariners. As head football coach Mike Toop explained to “In the (D3FB) Huddle” students at the Merchant Marine Academy spend four months at sea (or away from the academy) as sophomores and eight months away as juniors.
“We’re very unique,” Toop said. “My guys are gone in the spring. It would be virtually impossible for us to try and just field a team with just seniors and plebes. There’s no chance we could play in the spring.”
Each of these games should be special and the two academies will provide video feeds of each contest.