Naval Academy football team changes motto for the season after deeming original insensitive.

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Navy football changes season motto after deeming it insensitive to shooting victims

August 05, 2019 - 12:59 pm
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By Ben Krimmel

The football team for the United States Naval Academy has dropped their motto for the 2019 season after complaints it was insensitive to victims of gun violence and mass shootings.

After The Capital Gazette, the Annapolis, Md, newspaper where a gunman shot and killed five staff members in June 2018, asked Naval Academy officials about the captain's motto for the 2019 season, "Load the Clip," the team decided to make a change in deference to victims of gun violence. The football stadium is less than three miles from The Gazette's newsroom where the shooting took place.

Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo told reporters at media day Saturday the decision took "about one minute" for captains Ford Higgins, Malcolm Perry, Paul Carothers, and Nizaire Cromartie to change the motto to "Win the Day."

“It was a one-minute meeting. I explained that some people had deemed the motto to be insensitive. Our captains didn’t need to hear another word. They immediately said ‘Coach, let’s just change it,'” Niumatalolo said, per The Capital Gazette.

In a statement, Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Sean S. Buck called the original motto “inappropriate and insensitive."

“The bottom line is, we missed the mark here. The initial internal football team motto selected, ‘Load the Clip,’ was inappropriate and insensitive to the community we call home, and for that, I take responsibility for, and apologize to not only the Capital Gazette, but the entire Annapolis community," Vice Admiral Buck said. 

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“It is always my priority, part of my mission statement, for the Navy to be a good neighbor,” the statement said.

It has been a tradition for the last several years for team captains to select the motto, with last year's being "For the Culture."

"We’re excited about the new motto ‘Win the Day,’" said Higgins, a senior center. "It captures the same purpose and meaning. We’re going to put this behind and move on.”

The Gazette reported Carothers, one of the team's captain, was a plebe when his father was killed while making an arrest with the U.S. Marshals Service in 2016.

“I completely empathize with anyone who has lost a family member or close friend to any type of gun violence. I personally know exactly how they feel,” Carothers told reporters. “Because of my experience, I know firsthand how badly it hurts to lose someone you love in that way.”

The Navy head coach told The Gazette he was originally "leery" of the slogan last month, but understood the player's relationship with firearms as members of the military. “Clearly it’s a metaphor that speaks to the fact we’re going to battle every weekend and when you go to battle you need to have enough ammunition,” Niumatalolo said. "It means you have to be prepared for the fight and that is a process that happens every day.”

Niumatalolo’s comments on the motto's change came hours before a pair of mass shootings would take the lives of 30 people in Texas and Ohio.

“We sincerely apologize if it upset anyone, but it was not meant to be taken the way it may have been by some, " he added. "We understand that it probably wasn’t appropriate considering the current climate and certain things that are happening in our society.”

"In the end, it’s just words on the back of a T-shirt,” Carothers said. “What we’ve done during the offseason to get ready and what we do on the field every day — our actions — are what truly portray how we approach this season.”

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