You may have walked by it before and not given it any heed. It’s right next to my statue, Bill the Goat, which draws visitors over for photos at the intersection of Cooper Road and King George Street. This humble piece of stone on the ground may have escaped your attention. Well, as the most spirited midshipgoat on the Yard, I can tell you that it’s one you’ll definitely want to visit the next time you’re in town.
A Sacred Competition
This small tablet tells the story of the N* (pronounced N Star by the midshipmen). It chronicles our Naval Academy’s ongoing fight for victory over their most fierce rivals, the cadets at West Point or Army, as you may know them by. The legendary N* is granted every time a varsity Naval Academy team posts a win over West Point and a pennant is added to the flagpole at the Yardarm. While the future leaders of the Army and Navy will work together as defenders of our country in a few short years, their four years at their respective institutions are full of competition and challenge, the kind of mutually respectful rivalry that makes us all better—and makes every single N* full of meaning.
The N* Story
The marker by my statue bears this inscription, and it also holds a flagpole where the N* flag is posted:
“The N* commemorates a Navy varsity athletic team victory over Army. The Army-Navy rivalry is the most revered competition in intercollegiate athletics.
* * *
As each team strives for excellence on the field of competition, may a higher degree of appreciation and mutual respect evolve between our nation's future leaders
(Photographed By Kevin W. Dedicated May 15, 2002)
This special marker was placed in 2002 as a reminder of the significance of the Army-Navy rivalry. However, the rivalry itself stretches back far longer, to November 29, 1890, when the two teams first faced off for a football game on “The Plain” at Westpoint. While Navy had fielded a team since 1879, the newly built Army team was no match, and the first game went to Navy 24-0.
A Break in the Action
The exciting football tradition of the Army-Navy Football Game (sometimes simply referred to as the “Army Navy Game”)has continued to this day, with just ten interruptions in games over the years, which were attributed to various events. The longest dry spell occurred early on from 1894-1898, due to a disagreement between a Navy admiral and Army general. The two men were so upset that they almost staged a duel after the 1893 game which incidentally, went to Navy. In 1909, West Point’s Eugene Byrne died from injuries he received in an October game against Harvard, and they canceled their remaining games. Then when World War I broke out, the War Department canceled the 1917 and 1918 games. In 1928 and 1929, the two academies did not play because they were not in agreement on player eligibility standards. Since then, the games have continued, and my mascot goat ancestors have played large roles in helping Navy secure many great wins.
For the most part, it’s been an impressive run of competitions, and the record over the years has favored Navy at 62 wins, with Army at 53 and 7 ties for a total of 122 football games. They’ve battled on a number of different fields over the years, although never playing on our own Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, but playing on a field inside the Yard during WWII. In 2020, teams battled it out on West Point’s home field, Michie Stadium, due to COVID-19. However, you will usually find this epic rivalry playing at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium and East Rutherford, NJ’s Metlife Stadium, among others. As one of the most intense and highly anticipated rivalries in the country, this event caps off their season and can draw a crowd of 100,000+, not including the television audience. It’s played on the second Saturday in December, and is usually a huge highlight as the last regular season game played in all of NCAA Division 1 football.
Navy's 2021-22 Star-Game Victories
While it started with football, the N* has grown to include all of Navy’s varsity sports. If you look at the overall sports record for Star games, the latest numbers also show Navy in the lead, with a 1,141-858-44 record (.569). The following sports brought home Star-game victories in the 2021-2022 season (in chronological order): Men's Golf, Sprint Football, Men's Soccer, Women's Cross Country, Men's Cross Country, Women's Swimming & Diving, Men's Swimming & Diving, Football, Rifle, Men's Indoor Track & Field, Gymnastics, Women's Indoor Track & Field, Men's Basketball, Wrestling, Women's Tennis, Men's Outdoor Track & Field, Women's Outdoor Track & Field, Men's Lacrosse and Men's Tennis.
After a win from one of these women’s teams, Navy flies the gold N* flag proudly at the Yardarm. For men’s wins, Navy flies the blue N* flag proudly at the Yardarm. Members of the varsity teams also wear a small gold “N” on the uniform they wear to classes, known as the working uniform. If their teams wins its annual competition against Army, that gold “N” becomes a gold “N*,” a coveted honor.
N* Gear and the NStar Rewards Program
Yet you don’t necessarily have to be on the varsity teams to get an N*! If you want some N* USNA gear to celebrate Navy wins and get into the spirit of this historic competition, you can find them here at Navyonline. From stickers, to vests, to hats, to earbuds, to jewelry, to flags, there is an N* for everyone (even us old goats). Navyonline also celebrates the N* pride with our NStar Rewards program, a free program that gives you exclusive discounts and deals, like 20% off your Navyonline purchase. Want to be a part of this tradition? Click here and start saving!
As you know, you can also support the N* winners as well as every single midshipman. When you shop with us and dine, tour and visit the Yard, you’re giving back to the Brigade of Midshipmen that give their all because all proceeds go directly back to the midshipmen. Go Navy Beat Army! I love to bleat this cheer from the top of my lungs. When you support the Naval Academy, you’re doing it too.