(AP) Navy AD, fans happy to attend Air Force-Navy game
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
On a beautiful fall day, the parking lot at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium was filled with fans and tailgate parties. A record crowd of 38,225 showed up Saturday for the football game between Navy and Air Force.
Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk looked at the activity around him and smiled. After tumultuous week, he was right where he was supposed to be Saturday.
The Air Force-Navy game was in serious jeopardy on Tuesday, when the Department of Defense suspended athletic competition at the nation’s service academies because of the U.S. government shutdown. At that point, Gladchuk took action to convince the DOD that the game should be played because it was funded by non-appropriated money.
His effort paid off. Late Wednesday night, the DOD relented.
The late morning kickoff meant some tailgaters featured bacon and eggs on the grill instead of burgers and hot dogs.
Mimosa in one hand, spatula in the other, retired Air Force officer Charlie Lang was delighted to be among friends following a stressful week.
Jerry Elliott drove from Fort Worth, Texas, to watch his first Navy football game. Elliott, 72, and 71-year-old Jeff Miles (Navy, Class of `63) served together on the U.S.S. Nimitz from 1978-80.
Miles was certain it would happen.
Gladchuk felt the same way.
Asked if he had any doubts that the game would go off as scheduled, Gladchuk replied, “Just about every day.”
That’s why he worked so hard to make it happen.
Pam Alderson, 53, was delighted to be at a tailgate, even one that began well before noon. Her plate was filled with egg casserole, French toast and cheese grits.
What would she have done if the Air Force game was postponed, or worse, canceled?
Chet Whitley, who drove up for North Carolina for the game, wondered whether Navy’s game at Duke next week would be impacted by the government shutdown. A home game is one thing, but traveling to Duke?
Gladchuk was ready to make it work.