By HEATHER MONGILIOCAPITAL GAZETTE |APR 17, 2021 AT 1:40 PM
The annual Annapolis Cup croquet game is on. Well, kind of.
This weekend, the Naval Academy’s 28th Company, also known as the croquet company, will take on the Ninth Wing, the nickname given to midshipmen who lived at St. John’s College during the fall semester.A
It is midshipmen versus midshipmen for bragging rights this year. The game will be closed to the public, as it will be held on the Yard, which is closed to visitors under COVID-19 protocols.
The croquet game will be played Sunday from noon until about 3 p.m. on Farragut Field. There will be a total of six matches, said Midshipman 1st Class Kyle Hicks, the imperial wicket for the 28th Company.
The game will be played this weekend in lieu of the annual croquet match between St. John’s College and the Naval Academy. The match was canceled in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, although St. John’s is hopeful that it will resume in 2022, spokesman Michael O’Connor said
The rivalry between the two schools allegedly started in 1982 after the commandant at the time told a freshman St. John’s student the midshipmen could beat the Johnnies at any sport. The St. John’s student challenged croquet and the Annapolis Cup was born.
With the midshipmen competing against each other, the chance of the Naval Academy being victorious in the croquet match is 100%, bucking the trend of the last five years. The Annapolis Cup has gone to the Johnnies in each of those years.
Overall, since the match-up began in 1983, the midshipmen have won seven times compared to the Johnnies’ 30 wins.
While it will be a midshipmen win on the books no matter what, the 28th Company expects to take home the win, Hicks said.
The Ninth Wing team started practicing in the fall after it received a formal emailed challenge from the 28th Company, that cc’d the entire brigade. The team picked up the techniques pretty well, but it would be a surprise if it won, said Midshipman 1st Class Cody Spedero, a member of the Ninth Wing.
The idea of the midshipmen versus midshipmen game was to carry on the tradition, even if the game with the Johnnies was canceled, Hicks said. Since Spedero’s battalion was living at St. Johns in the fall, those midshipmen could fill in for the St. John’s team.
The game was initially going to take place in late October, early November, Hicks said, while the midshipmen were still living at St. John’s. The academy housed around 380 midshipmen at the neighboring college in the fall in order to have quarantine and isolation space in Bancroft Hall.
To promote the game, the 28th Company created some build-up videos, including one released Friday featuring the croquet team putting on their uniforms and grabbing their clubs.
The 28th Company puts on their traditional uniform of summer whites and varsity sweaters.
“So tradition is always a big thing at the Academy, whether it’s sports, Army-Navy rivalries, St. John’s rivalry, just kind of builds like that’s the spirit of competition that’s pretty common at military academies, especially the Naval Academy,” Hicks said. “And this is just one extension of tha
In keeping with the tradition, the Ninth Wing is taking on the uniforms of the Johnnies, which change every year, Spedero said. The team will show off their uniforms on Sunday.
The game is a way to boost morale, Hicks said.
“It’s always a fun time,” he said. “The brigade always gets dressed up in derby attire, and it’s just a fun day. And I expect it to be that way on this Sunday when they’ll come out on Farragut.”Heather MongilioCONTACT
Heather Mongilio is the Report For America corps member with the Capital Gazette, where she covers military affairs. Mongilio previously reported at The Frederick News-Post and the Carroll County Times. She earned a master’s degree in science writing from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree from American University.