By Julie M. Lucas
NAS Jacksonville Public Affairs
For the first time ever on Nov. 5 Notre Dame will play football against the U.S. Naval Academy in Jacksonville.
While the most common rival may be the Army, it has been said that the Navy and Notre Dame rivalry is the longest intersectional rivalry in college football.
This game will mark the 90th time the Mids and the Irish have gone head-to-head on the football field.
Seven former academy football players are now working together as VP-30 pilots.
Lt. Craig Almond, Lt. Cmdr. Josh Smith, Lt. Jordan Young, Lt. Derrick Bruce, Lt. Mike Brammer, Lt. Reggie Campbell and Lt. Zach Weatherington have all been teammates before arriving at NAS Jacksonville.
"Playing football helps you learn a unit mindset before you even leave the academy. When we show up to the squadrons we are so used to working on a team, you are ready to go to work," said Young.
When attending the Naval Academy, playing a sport is mandatory.
Playing football and traveling to play in games can add extra pressure to the otherwise heavy load required of the midshipmen.
"Just going to the academy, you are already overwhelmed with everything but put football on top of that and you learn priorities and that correlates to the military life," said Smith.
Young agreed, saying "The things we go through on a football field . . . when everyone else is home on vacation, those are the moments that make you selfless and prepares you for the future."
The players credit the coaching staff for helping to make the team successful during their time at the academy.
"(Former head) Coach (Paul) Johnson really humbled the program and taught us what hard was to be a championship team," said Brammer.
"He took things to a higher level that we didn't realize we could give it until we started playing for him."
The former players shared their memorable moments playing against the Irish.
"There was a 43-yard field goal and I had three fingers on the ball. I got up celebrating, thinking there was no way it was going in and it went right over," Smith said.
The former player with the best story is Campbell, who helped score the final points in the third overtime to give the Mids their first victory over Notre Dame in 43 years.
That game in 2007 ended the longest streak for most consecutive wins by one team over another in college football.
Now that they are in their jobs, the reality of being a Navy pilot is ever present.
Some of the pilots are unable to attend the game in Jacksonville, due to work commitments.
The pilots said they like to attend the Navy/Army game when they can and when asked who they would rather beat between the Army or Notre Dame, the resounding answer was "Both!"