It is 0600, October 9th. The majority of the campus is asleep. The air is crisp. The sky is dark, lit by just a small sliver of a moon. Suddenly, the lights of the MIT football field explode into life. The Joint Service Field Meet has begun.
Amongst the silent campus, the three ROTC battalions are awake. Thoughts are running through the heads of the cadets and midshipmen. For the Army and Air Force, the trophy is an unknown treasure, seen only once a year. They know they must perform today, or else it will be locked back up in the hands of the Navy. But the Navy recognizes the bounty on the trophy, for if they win today, it will be a decade since the trophy did not call the Navy wardroom its home.
There are three events, but all the competitors know the one that will be filled with the most heated debates, the most arduous struggle, and the most legendary fights: ultimate football. The teams split up, and the gladiators of the football teams stay on the field. Among the group, there are members of the football team, and each team possessed their own intimidating size factor.
The first game was Air Force against Navy. Perhaps the Army, who was running the meet, wanted a chance to observe the competition before playing. This was, without a doubt, a strategic schedule for them.
The game was Navy dominance, from start to finish. Between Staff Sergeant Evans, MIDN Forsey, MIDN Bradley, and MIDN Gracia, the game was clinched. But, the team was not a four person job. From the pinpoint throws of MIDN Kindfuller to the key catches of MIDN Shifflet, every member contributed. The game ended 11-0.
The second game was Air Force against Army, and started off with a rule change. The game was now different, and the first few minutes of that game made it clear that Army knew this rule was coming. Their strategy was already planned around the rule, and by that, Army took a victory over Air Force. Perhaps they excluded that rule from the Navy solely to limit their points, as if that made a difference.
The third game started, and it was clear that two unstoppable forces were against each other. The game was close from the start. The struggle escalated, with more contact. The Army refs, overlooked the Army actions, but kept a strict look upon the Naval fighting forces. The Navy grimaced and all thought, “They’ll do anything to win, won’t they?” But sadly, thoughts do not win fights. The Navy pursued, fighting tooth and nail. With just three minutes remaining, one Army player suggested simply holding the ball, since they then possessed the lead. However, the Navy, knowing how close the game was, quickly convicted that player. Another Army player, possessing more sportsmanlike qualities, made clear to their team that this was not how the competition was meant to be run, and made it clear that they would play.
The last few minutes ticked down, until the final whistle was sounded, leaving the Navy down by only one point. The Army had done it. By a mix of rule changes and lopsided refereeing, they managed to beat the global force for good by a mere point. The Navy walked off, proud of their efforts, but they all felt cheated. They knew that the trophy was a close competition. They would need to see the other events scores.
The three ROTC battalions converged once more on the football field for the presentation of the trophy. It was too close to call. Each team had taken their own place in the fight for the trophy; the trophy soon would end the streak of the Navy, or continue residing with the midshipmen.
“We have a tie. We need to count total points.” The Cadet OIC declared. The competition had been close, everyone knew that, but no one knew how close.
“By five points,” The battalions held their breath, “The Navy has won the trophy back.”
The Old Ironsides Battalion exploded. Ten years. From the senior who looked upon his or her fourth win to the freshman who now understood the importance of the trophy, everyone was drunk on the feeling of victory.
We won by a mere five points. It really left us all with a lesson. Every kick of the soccer ball in gorilla ball, every throw made in dodgeball, every pass thrown in football, everything mattered. The fifth law of the Navy is as such:
On the strength of one link in the cable,
Dependeth the might of the chain.
Who knows when thou may’st be tested?
So live that thou bearest the strain!
But the Navy left that day bearing the strain. The chain had not been broken. The streak had not been broken. But most importantly, the Army Battalion, the Navy Battalion, and the Air Force Wing had joined for a competition that would unite the forces: a Joint-Service Field Meet.
Written by: MIDN 2/c Stephen Johnson