The first leg in the chase for the Commander-In-Chief’s Trophy is here. For the 50th time Navy meets Air Force.
“Always exciting. Got a ton of respect for Air Force,” said Navy head coach Ken Niumatalolo
“It’s obviously a big week this week,” said Navy quarterback Zach Abey. “You can just tell around the brigade.”
The Midshipmen (4-0) host the Falcons (1-3) on Saturday. Navy is out for revenge after getting swept by the service academies last season for the time in 14 years.
“We have a lot to prove. We’re hungry. We want that trophy back,” said Abey.
“It’s always a battle when we play these guys,” added Niumatalolo. “We want to beat these guys. (They’re a) really good team.”
Navy is playing for much more than beating Air Force, beating Army, winning trophies and championships this season. Part of their motivation is coming not from the football field but rather from a hospital room.
The Mids have rallied around offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper and his son Jarren. The 14-year-old has been at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington for the last couple months after being diagnosed with Supraventricular Tachycardia. His heart is beating too fast. He suffered complications from a procedure in early August and now needs a heart transplant.
“It’s tough. Being able to come to work to get away a little bit, come around football, around the coaches, around guys who I love, who love me, who love my family it definitely helps,” said Ivin Jasper. “But, obviously when the day is over I get back in the car, back to the hospital, reality sets in again. It’s been tough.”
Ivan drives to the hospital to be with Jarren every day after practice.
“It’s been hard but every single day I have to get up and push one more day,” said Ivin.
“I don’t know how he’s done it. I don’t know how he’s doing it,” said Niumatalolo “He’s putting in a full workload. It’s hard to be a division one football coach and I don’t know how he is… well, I know how he’s doing it. It’s the love of your son.”
Now Ivin’s doing some of his best coaching with his son. He’s borrowed a phrase from his team and he’s having Jarren live it.
“Our motto this year is ‘one more’. I told Jarren, he’s frustrated and wants to go home, I said ‘Son, take it one more day. Every single day you wake up just say ‘You know what, this is one more day I have to go through this. Maybe something good will happen today. If it doesn’t I’m going to go to bed, wake up the next day and do it one more day’. So, for our family right now, and this team, it’s one more.”