The Guts & Go of a Team – Navy Football

The Guts & Go of a Team — “Five Star Heart Trumps Five Star Talent.” By Buddy Wellborn, N* ’59, At the Annual Navy Football Banquet, February 19, 2010. Note Captain Wellborn teaches ATI’s course Submarines and Surface Ships and Their Combat Systems June 22-24, 2010 Beltsville, MD Outgoing Captain for Navy’s 2009 Football Team, […]

The Guts & Go of a Team
— “Five Star Heart Trumps Five Star Talent.”

By Buddy Wellborn, N* ’59,
At the Annual Navy Football Banquet,
February 19, 2010.

Note Captain Wellborn teaches ATI’s course
Submarines and Surface Ships and Their Combat Systems June 22-24, 2010 Beltsville, MD

Outgoing Captain for Navy’s 2009 Football Team, Osei Asante, N* ’10, concluded his remarks by reminding his teammates that they won together as a team because:
“Five Star Heart Trumps Five Star Talent.”

Sitting among my teammates of our ’57 team with the widow and family, including the grandson, of George Fritzinger, ’59, we listen intently to Navy’s football team Captain, in that he spoke about that which only those of us who have been there, done that, know:
“The Guts & Go of a Team”

As so related at an earlier gathering the end of last year while they were working out at Rice in Houston just before their game with Missouri in the Texas Bowl, I had seen them wearing some gold-colored undershirts with the following words inscribed in a bold navy-blue :
One Heartbeat
—No Regrets.

To them this wasn’t some catchy phrase, or jingoistic motto, this was their credo that bonded them—like “one for all, all for one.” They knew, and their coaches knew, as we knew, that they had played with great heart to even have a chance against bigger and faster, money-motivated talent. The military service academies still play like “the way it was” in college football back in the “get-one-for-the-Gipper” days.

Tom Lynch, N* ’64, as the football captain of the ’63 team was there with a contingent of his teammates that had beaten Notre Dame twice, beaten Army, but had lost to Texas in the Cotton Bowl. Greg Mather, N* ’62, was an All-American on the ’61 team that also had beaten Notre Dame twice, beaten Air Force (the inaugural game in 1960), beaten Army, but lost to Missouri in the Orange Bowl.

Harry Hurst, N* ’58, headed a contingent of his teammates on the ’57 team that included Bob Caldwell, N*’58, Don Chomicz, N*’59, Maxwell Trophy winner Bob Reifsnyder, N* ’59, yours truly Buddy Wellborn, N*’59, and Tom Solak, N*’60. The ’57 team also had beaten Notre Dame twice, beat Army (in that Air Force had not been scheduled yet), AND went on to beat Rice in the Cotton Bowl—as did the ’09 team in beating Missouri in the Texas Bowl.

In the 110-game (55-49-7) history of playing Army, three of the fifty-five winning Navy teams were there at the banquet.
In the 83-year history of playing Notre Dame, however, only SIX teams have had players that have beaten them twice—and THREE of those teams were represented at this banquet. The three others that were not at the banquet were the ’61 team with Greg Mather, N* ’62, the ’34 team with our distinguished graduate Slade Cutter, N* ’35, and the ’36 team with Rivers Morrell, N*’37.

Further, all three of these teams also had beaten Army, BUT pointedly, only TWO of those six went on to win their respective post-season bowl game—’57 and ’09. Only those two distinctly are so linked. There are no others– yet.

Before the festivities, we all mingled among these current footballers of the ’09 team and their oh-so proud families. We congratulated Ricky Dobbs, N* ’11, and Wyatt Middleton, N* ’11, for being elected by their teammates to be Navy football Captains for the 2010 season. Notably, the 2009-team captains were both from Texas, whereas the 2010-team captains are both from Georgia. Good Luck to Navy’s 2010 team, which could be the greatest—yet.

Harry Hurst, Navy #34 and I, Navy #33, even had our pictures taken with our numbered counterparts a half a century apart, to wit: Ram Vela #34 and Bobby Doyle #33. They asked about our season, and how we played then. We related that we played as they had—for one another. We did so for the same reason—that is, we didn’t want to let down a teammate by not doing our job. The old adage is:
“Let others do their job, while you focus on doing yours.”

Sometimes it seems that we all are just marching through life following the man in front of us, and trying not to trip and fall on his bayonet—or on our own. I often have wondered about into what one morphs while surviving the rigors at a military academy. Like, what affect does all those statues, memorials, sayings, quotes, mottos, long tales and short tales of days gone by those that have passed through those hallowed halls before you actually had on you?

One might conclude that the “theys” just expected you to “…carefully and diligently discharge the duties of the office to which appointed by doing and performing all manner of things thereunto belonging.” Notably, no where in that commission does it stipulate that you should be “an officer and a gentleman,” just for you to do that for which you were appointed.

Seemingly, it was sometime later that we came to realize that in those halls and in that yard—and, “On these fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds that on other fields on other days will reap the fruits of victory.” It was then, when you stood up exhausted, wiping the snot off your nose, spit the blood out of your mouth, and overlooked the dirt and hurt to yell, “Yeaaaaaa!” Then you knew on that field, on that day, you had won. You could see it, hear it, smell it, feel it– you even could taste it. Yes, you had won, but all knew that it was WE that had won that day as one—THE ONE!

Navy Football—A Proud Tradition.

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