The Naval Academy Midshipmen will not take the football field this season under the motto selected by senior members of the team.
Navy announced that it will not use "Load the Clip" as the team's 2019-20 motto, citing sensitivity to the victims of gun violence — in particular the 2018 mass shooting that killed five employees of The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., as well as a separate shooting that year that killed three at a Rite Aid drug store 60 miles from Annapolis. The team's replacement motto is "Win the Day," selected by team members who met to discuss the "Load the Clip" criticism.
The announcement came Friday afternoon, on the eve of a weekend that saw mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, leave 31 dead total.
Reporters from The Capital Gazette had questioned the motto given the context of mass shootings nearby and throughout America prior to the Academy's decision.
“It is always my priority, part of my mission statement, for the Navy to be a good neighbor," Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean S. Buck told The Capital Gazette, as reported by NavyTimes. "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 and apologize to not only the Capital Gazette, but the entire Annapolis community.”
In an interview last month with The Capital Gazette during the American Athletic Conference Football Media Day, Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo said he was “leery” of the slogan but also understood the players’ 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."
“Corrective measures were taken immediately and on behalf of the team at large, our sincerest apologies to anyone who was offended,” Naval Academy director of athletics Chet Gladchuk told The Capital Gazette. "It was a lesson learned and it’s important that everything we do at the Naval Academy represents not only appropriate action, but assumed responsibility. We are hopeful we can now put this behind us and ‘Win the Day.’ ”
Navy hosts Holy Cross in its season opener Aug. 31.