>’Cats In The Backyard
>Northwestern was humbled by yesterday’s practice at Great Lakes Naval Station in North Chicago. The base is quite a sprawling campus and is just north of Lake Bluff and just south of Waukegan. This is likely too much info, but I can walk to the Naval Station from my house (ran by there this morning). I hear the trumpets as a wake-up call in the morning and taps every night at sundown. So, when NU comes a callin it was if I’d won a sweepstakes and the team was literally playing in my backyard. Yet, I was at work and missed the once-in-70-year appearance.
Many of you may not know the history of Great Lakes a team that erroneously is used as a chuckle when scanning all-time results and opponents in a media guide. Names like Parseghian, Halas, and Paddy Driscoll played for the Bluejackets. I’m a sucker for history and thanks to Skip Myslenski of NUSports.com you can enjoy this cliff notes version of said history here. It’s required reading.
The theme of yesterday’s practice was “perspective”. Tina A. had a nice Sun-Times piece here on CJ Bryant’s discovery about his dad’s connections to Great Lakes. Fitz acknowledged a cousin went throught the base. You read in Skip’s piece about the deep impact the day had on LB Bryce McNaul whose brother is set to go overseas this fall while he gets to play football. And it’s a good dose of perspective for football-obsessed LTP.
I received an email from a soldier who was overseas thanking ME for all that I do to provide him access to his favorite diversion – Northwestern football. He clamors for daily updates and he says I’m his conduit. You can imagine the note of thanks I sent him for all he does for us and I told him that we thank HIM. What I do is a joke in comparison to what these folks do to defend our country.
There is no doubt this relationship is in part a marketing tactic. Nearly 40,000 soldiers pass through Great Lakes annually and grabbing even a small percentage as fans will no doubt help. They’ll be honored at the home opener on September 11 against Illinois State. It will be interesting to see how many attend the game and even moreso to see how many stick as fans. As with most things Fitz does, this is not some shallow ploy. He’s become friends with the folks in North Chicago and was invited to their graduation. You can tell it’s important to him and the emotion of the team’s reaction is very authentic. It’s just another example of doing things the right way.