May on The Yard: Here come the winds of change

As a kid, I loved May because it’s my birthday month. As a teen, it signaled the beginning of the serious part of the baseball and softball schedules, which as an umpire, meant increased income. In college, May marked the welcome end of a semester. As a Naval Academy parent, I learned a whole new appreciation for May.

May is a time of transition on The Yard and given the dark days of the past 12+ months, we are all looking forward to transitions. While things won’t be normal, we have the basic ingredients of a real Commissioning Week and for that we can all be thankful (even if some of us are just a wee bit jealous).

Of course, the Firsties (and their families) have the most to be excited about as these Mids close out the chapters on the Severn and begin their true Navy/Marine Corps jouney. The second class Mids prepare to take on the yoke of leadership and the Youngsters move into the on deck circle.

But the excitement for the Class of 2024 is hard to overlook. Even though this was a Plebe Year like no other, following a Plebe Summer like no other, it’s time to get ready to say “Plebes No More!” Hats off to USNA leadership for doing the best they could last year, but having the Supe and Dant put the cover atop Herndon didn’t have a lot of juice. While there will be no cheering parents and friends surrounding them, this year’s Plebes will resume one of the Academy’s most storied traditions. So like so many post-COVID events, it will be back and livestreamed, just not exactly the way we remember it. That’s OK. After everything we’ve lost the past year or so, we’ll take it.

As the Class of 2024 prepares for their Climb, I’ll be working on another Herndon Climb playlist (just for you, Class of 2024!), marking the fifth one. Because you can never get enough Herndon hype in May, join me for a trip down Memory Lane:

Class of 2020

This one was for my son’s class and, appropriately, his classmates suggested many of the songs. I created this because, quite frankly, I couldn’t keep a thought in my head as Plebe Year neared its end. We had ridden the Plebe Year roller coaster and the anxiety had us ready to get off and move forward.

Class of 2021

While the Naval Academy is the Mids’ journey, the parents, family, and friends come along for their own version of the trip. Since we now had the perspective of having endured the grind of Plebe Year and the rush of the Herndon Climb, our entire family pitched in to create this playlist.

Class of 2022

Now halfway through the journey with our Mid prepared to sign his 2 for 7s, I shared our entire Plebe Year journey, the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. This playlist is very personal – I constantly remind folks that “your experience is the right experience” – and this really captured our experience. I listen to this one often because it reminds me of just how emotional the Climb can be, plus I really love the music (if not the sound of my not-ready-for-radio voice).

Class of 2023

I have been accused of many things and one of the most frequent is being overly optimistic. Here is the audio proof. I had hoped and prayed that we’d have some normalcy amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, that we would magically turn the corner and Herndon would take place in a near-normal fashion, very selfishly leading to the Commissioning Week me and my fellow 2020 parents had been dreaming of for the past four years. I even managed to rope in some of my favorite USNA people into sharing their Herndon thoughts and favorite songs. Maybe the subtitle to this one should be “Ode To A Hopeless Optimist.”

I’m excited to put together this year’s version, knowing that we’ll be taking a huge step toward normal and with the hope and expectation that better days are indeed ahead.

To our Firstie parents, I am pushing aside my envy and wishing you a great Commissioning Week. Savor every moment. Plebe parents – this is such a great time. Enjoy the Herndon Climb and get ready for tales of your Mids’ summer training adventures (check out this video from our Mid’s Youngster training in Alaska!). May is indeed one of my favorite times of the year. It’s a time for optimism and that’s something we sure can use right now.

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