The Navy football team has changed its team motto for the 2019 season after reporters at the Capital Gazette called into question a lack of sensitivity surrounding last year's deadly shooting in its Annapolis, Md., newsroom.
The Naval Academy's superintendent announced Friday that the motto "Load the Clip," chosen by football team captains, had been replaced by "Win the Day."
"It is always my priority, part of my mission statement, for the Navy to be a good neighbor," Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Admiral Sean S. Buck said in a statement released Friday. "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."
In June 2018, a man with a shotgun killed five employees of the Capital Gazette inside its newsroom - located just miles from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium - and wounded two others. In September of that year, three people were killed and three wounded at an Aberdeen Rite-Aid about 60 miles from Annapolis.
It has been a tradition for several years for Navy team captains to create a team motto. Last year's motto was "For the Culture." A Naval Academy spokeswoman said that the "Load the Clip" phrase was meant to be a metaphor for daily gameday preparation.
Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo also spoke about the motto about the motto during the American Athletic Conference's media days.
"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."
Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk agreed with the team's change of motto ahead of the Midshipmen's Fan Fest on Saturday.
"Our coaches and midshipmen realized that the direction they were headed created sensitivities that were not aligned with the original intent," Gladchuk said. "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 opens its season on Aug. 31 against FCS opponent Holy Cross.