Navy Medicine on the Sideline at America’s Game


By Cmdr. John C. Biery, Jr., Team Primary Care Sports Physician, U.S. Naval Academy

The preparation for this weekend’s 2011 Army-Navy football game started long before the season’s first practice in August. Starting shortly after the Poinsettia Bowl last December, the monumental effort to rehabilitate the injuries sustained over the past season and to further develop the underclassmen into starters began. The Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine Department of Naval Health Clinic Annapolis, Navy Medicine’s front line at the U.S. Naval Academy, has been there the whole time. Cmdr. John-Paul Rue, M.D. (USNA Class of 1993), Team Orthopaedic Surgeon and I lead the sports medicine team in this effort.   

The hard work paid off and culminated in a healthy group of players all vying for a starting position on this year’s team. On Aug. 1, the new freshmen and the upperclassmen all reported for camp. A rigorous schedule of practices and position meetings kept the Midshipmen busy. The bumps, bruises and sometimes significant injuries kept the medical team busy as well. In addition to the expected musculoskeletal injuries, there were the usual coughs and colds associated with bringing a group of people together from all over the country and world, which added to the requirements of the medical team. As camp ended and the scrimmages were completed, the team’s starting lineup was assembled and it was time to get the season started. Cmdr Rue and I were joined by retired Navy Capt. John Wilckens, M.D., (USNA Class of 1976), Naval Academy Athletic Association Consulting Orthopaedic Surgeon, on the sideline. 

The season started off on a high note with two big victories. Then the team fell on the losing side of a series of close games including to service academy rival Air Force. The return to the win column came at the end of the season but the team fell just short of a 9th bowl bid in as many years with a loss at San Jose State.

Final preparations for the big game are being made, medical care is still being provided and the country is growing in its anticipation for America’s Game. Rest assured Navy Medicine will be well represented on the sideline. Go Navy!  Beat Army!