For the past several years, the U.S. Naval Academy Parachute Team has been in a building phase, and 2019 was a banner year. Skydiving activities have taken place at the academy—located in Annapolis, Maryland—for more than 55 years. However, the team received very little inside or outside support for its activities. In fact, it never even had a physical presence on the Yard (i.e., the academy’s campus). That has changed.
Like the other parachuting teams at U.S. military academies, the Navy team has participated in on-campus demos and competed at events such as the USPA National Collegiate Skydiving Championships and the Inter-Service Academy Meet. Unlike the other teams, the Naval Academy does not fund the team’s jumps or provide full-time coaching support. USNA Midshipmen pay for their skydives, purchase equipment independently of the academy and rely on volunteers for coaching.
Last year, through the fundraising efforts of a dedicated alumnus and some generous donors, the midshipmen have gotten more support. The push started in 2017, when Captain (now Rear Admiral) Robb Chadwick, at the time the academy’s commandant, reinstated skydiving as an extracurricular activity at the academy following a brief suspension and allowed the team to begin looking for space on the Yard. Concurrently, retired Captain Bill Boniface began a successful fundraising campaign to put together a first-class training facility. Now, the Navy skydivers have a well-equipped paraloft in Building 187 of the Yard, as well as five dedicated team rigs. At the entrance of the loft, a sign reads, “Navy’s Most Unique Leadership Laboratory.”
Boniface is continuing his fundraising efforts this year to raise enough for the team to hire a full-time coach and to put the Naval Academy skydiving program on a more equal footing with the other academies. The team also hopes to begin making jumps into football games at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, which receive rich publicity. A multitude of alumni, as well as the families of the USNAPT members and interested friends, are keen to improve the support of the team to allow it the highest possible success. Those interested in learning more about the team can find additional information at usnaskydiving.org and supportusnaskydiving.com.
Mike Schultz | D-1180
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