ANNAPOLIS – Leading up the Army-Navy rivalry game on Saturday, Annapolis Midshipmen and West Point cadets have shown that despite their stressful workloads they know how to creatively express themselves.
The proof is all over YouTube.
Rylan Tuohy is one of many U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen who directs spirit videos for Navy football games and uploads them to YouTube. The videos are often music video spin-offs of popular songs, though Tuohy’s channel also includes original rap songs written by his fellow Midshipmen.
“The spirit spots have been around for awhile, ever since the advent and popularity of YouTube,” said Tuohy, a 20-year-old sophomore from Greenville, Ky. “Their intention is to be playing in between play at games. It’s definitely evolved over the past few years … Now it’s such a tradition so everyone looks forward to them.”
Some spirit videos have nothing to do with music and instead include a funny skit. But they are all meant to pump up fans. And in the case of the Army-Navy game, spirit videos become extremely important.
Jasmine Morgan, the Morale, Wellness and Recreation officer on the brigade level at the U.S. Military Academy, says that at West Point, the entire week leading up to the big game is dedicated to spirit events.
Morgan is also referred to as the “Spirit Captain” and leads the Army cheer team, the Rabble Rousers, who perform and compete against Navy cheerleaders leading up to the game. She also manages the spirit videos and is excited about this year’s batch.
“My deputy, Lara Stouffer, she kind of spearheaded this idea for a ‘300’ video, which is one of the best, if not the best video we have this year,” said Morgan, a 23-year-old cadet from Coppell, Texas. “We took an exact dialogue [from the 2007 movie ‘300’] except we changed it to being about Army-Navy.”
The cadets even enlisted the acting skills of West Point Commandant, Brig. Gen. Richard Clarke, in the dramatic recreation, in which he pulls a sword on an interloping Midshipman and says: “You threaten my people with goats, and buffoonery?” As of Friday afternoon, the video had been viewed more than 44,000 times on YouTube.
Tuohy’s most viewed video for the 2013 Army-Navy game is a cinematic music video filmed in black and white, with new lyrics set to the song “Suit and Tie” by Justin Timberlake. Tuohy’s version includes the line: “12 wins in-a-row is what we like,” referencing the fact that Navy currently has an 11-game winning streak against Army. As of Friday afternoon, the “Suit and Tie” spin-off had more than 78,000 views.
Tuohy, who has always had a passion for being behind the camera, said putting the videos together is not as time consuming as it may seem.
“I like to think of my filming technique as more guerrilla style so we shoot it on the go,” Tuohy said. “It’s not necessarily time consuming…the ‘zoomie’ song [for the October football game against Air Force] took about 4 hours overall – two hours to shoot, two hours to edit.”
That music video, “What Does a Zoomie Say?,” a parody of the song “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)” by Ylvis, has gotten more than 129,000 hits on YouTube since it was posted in September. ‘Zoomie,’ is a nickname for members of the Air Force, and Tuohy’s lyrics mock the cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“I have a Midshipman helping me produce the song,” Tuohy said of his videos. “Everything you see on screen is completely original even though it may seem similar [to popular songs] … I have a lot of other Midshipmen who have a lot of other passions and abilities so we can collaborate together.” He also said that creating the videos has been a good outlet for him.
“The thing is that the Academy is a great place because I feel it has the right balance,” Tuohy said. “[The videos] are more of a relief from my schoolwork than the regimented lifestyle.”
“It’s crazy, it’s really fun,” Morgan said of Army-Navy week. “As far as class work goes, the teachers will show Army-Navy videos from years past, and tell stories of years past and what they did as cadets. … Really in class you’re not learning anything new anyway. So it being the end of the year plays into it too, I think.”
On the field, in addition to their 11-game winning streak in the matchup, Navy owns the all-time series with a record of 57-49-7. This year, the Midshipmen have already defeated Air Force, a team that beat Army. As a result, with a win on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, the Midshipmen will keep the Commander-in-Chief Trophy, awarded to the military academy that wins the season series in football between the three schools. If Army wins, then all three schools will be tied and all three will share the award, though the physical trophy will be retained by Navy since they won it last year.
But while the U.S. Military Academy cannot take the trophy home with them this year, they still have a lot to play for.
“This year, it’s like that relentless pursuit,” Morgan said. “It’s a new year, we’re not looking at years past. I know the Navy videos [mention] the fact that it’s been  years. But we’re just looking at this year.”