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Navy midshipmens' traditions ahead of Army-Navy game

Friday - 12/13/2013, 5:50pm  ET

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A midshipman poses for a photo with his family in front of the Chief Tecumseh statue on the Naval Academy campus, decorated for the Army-Navy game. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)
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WASHINGTON - Before the 31st annual Army-Navy game is played in Philadelphia, there are a week of traditions that take place at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

"This is probably the biggest day for the 13th Company. It's our tradition that goes hand-in-hand with the Army-Navy game," says senior Kally Schulz.

Schulz holds the ball that she and her company ran up to Philadelphia on Friday ahead of the game Saturday. This group is quite proud of the idea that on Dec. 13, or Friday the 13th, the 13th Company is running the ball to the 2013 Army-Navy game.

"We're trying to make 13 lucky," Schulz says as she lays out the company's running route.

"There are 13 legs, 10 miles each," she says.

Running of the ball

The group left at 12:20 p.m. Friday from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and expects to arrive in Philadelphia at 9 a.m. Saturday. The plebes are assigned the overnight running shifts, but all the runners stay at a firehouse in Oxford, Pa.

On the other side of the ball, Schulz says, they take the trip differently.

"The Army marathon team does the same thing. They run the ball from West Point to Philly, but I heard a rumor that they're staying in a hotel. So we've got one up on them," she says.

Mascot stealing and student exchange

The running of the ball is one of many traditions leading up to the rivalry game. Others include stealing each others' mascots and participating in a student exchange.

It's a program senior Ben Radford, from Roanoake, Va., was a part of this year.

"Three of us were there. I was one of them. It was an interesting experience being in enemy territory," Radford jokes.

As an upperclassman, Radford gets to run the ball onto the field and hand it to the referees.

Tecumseh statue and pranks

"One year they dressed him up as Batman."

Near the shadow of the Chief Tecumseh statue, which is decorated in an Army theme, sophomore Francesca Emanule of Rockville, Md., explains some of the pranks pulled during what's called Army week.

She starts with the surprise of the morning, waking up to find sailboats filling Stribling Walk, a brick pathway that leads up to the square.

"There's stuff being thrown in the rooms, chocolate on the floors. There is what's called carrier landing, where you cover the floor in soap and slide down the hall on a mattress," she says.

Army certainly has it's own traditions before the big rivalry game, but the 11 time champions of the series, the midshipmen are confident they'll take home the W on Saturday.

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