This past weekend, the Muhlenberg football team experienced a rare trip. Our first regular season game was scheduled for Saturday, September 1, against an unfamiliar team, the Apprentice School Builders, located in Newport News, Virginia.
After grabbing a quick breakfast and a boxed lunch at 7 a.m. on Friday morning, we packed up the buses and were on our way to Newport News. The bus ride was a long one lasting about seven hours, which meant ample time for movies. The defensive bus had plenty of laughs as we watched Fast Five, Animal House, and Dumb and Dumber, while the offensive bus watched Fast Five and Remember the Titans.
When we arrived at The Apprentice School’s football field, we were immediately greeted by longtime Newport News Shipyard employees. Since we had some time to burn, they agreed to give us a grand tour of the shipyard. As per shipyard policy, they began by passing a box around the bus and collecting all devices capable of taking photos, including cell phones, iPods and, of course, Chris Galletta’s iPad.
After the security measures were taken care of, we took a three-minute ride escorted by Newport News police to the main gate of the shipyard. Then our tour guides began telling us anything and everything there was to know about the shipyard and answering all of our questions along the way. The 45-minute bus tour was both relaxing and particularly interesting.
The shipyard has over 19,000 employees ranging in hundreds of specialties and fields. They specialize in the building of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines used by the U.S. Navy. During the tour, we saw the USS Theodore Roosevelt, which was launched in 1984, saw her first action in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and is now being refueled and overhauled in the shipyard. The tour guides then pointed out the recently completed submarine building facilities due to rising demand of subs by the U.S. Navy.
We also saw the shipyard’s major project, the USS Gerald R. Ford. Construction on the 10 billion dollar, 1,100-foot aircraft carrier began in 2005, and the schedule calls for the ship to join the U.S. Navy’s fleet in 2015. The rest of the tour included an overview of the day-to-day progressions that occur in the massive shipyard.
It was fascinating to see how much work and effort goes into providing the U.S. Navy the necessary ships and subs to protect America.
On Saturday morning, the team checked out of the hotel and began our pregame routine. The weather was hot and humid but we came ready to play. Like any other football game we had our ups and downs, but the Mules came out on top with a 27-7 victory. We packed the bus returned to Allentown just before midnight.
The weekend was an overall great experience, a good time for team bonding, and a strong win to open up the 2012 season.