Academy Meet forms competition, camaraderie between sister academies

Story and photos by Michelle Eberhart Assistant Editor

April 20th, 2017 | News, News and Features
Sky Dabbing
A cadet on the West Point Parachute Team hits the target while parachuting on the Plain during the Inter Service Academy Meet, April 14.
Tom Falzone, head coach of the West Point Parachute Team, talks to team members before the Inter Service Academy Meet, April 14.
The symbol of the West Point Parachute Team is staked into the ground on the Plain during the competition.

The fourth annual Inter Service Academy Meet for the West Point Parachute team took place on the parade field April 14-16 at the U.S. Military Academy. Parachutists from the West Point Black Knights and the Air Force Academy’s Wings of Blue went head-to-head during the friendly, yet competitive contest.

The purpose of the dual meet between sister academies is to foster a fun rivalry while gaining skydiving experience.

“It’s a nice chance for all of us to get together and share our experiences,” Head Coach of the Black Knights, Tom Falzone, said. “And it’s just one way to motivate our members a little bit more throughout the year because we only have a few competitions so it kind of gets that blood boiling a little bit sooner.”

The weekend-long competition was comprised of the six-way speed formation, the four-way competition and sport accuracy.

And while these contests were the backbone of the weekend, the meet means more than that.

“It’s about getting together and having that camaraderie between two academies, I believe both academies’ cadets can relate to each other, coming from that background of a lot of hard work, and getting to be on a team that requires a lot of training and hard work,” Falzone added.

Air Force cadet Molly Ferguson agrees.

“It’s a really good competition between the service academies,” she said. “Everyone is really welcoming. We all spent time with each other at Collegiate’s this past December and we just hung out with each other when we weren’t jumping and we have a lot in common. We have the same kind of mentality, so we get along automatically.”

Ferguson added that jumping in Colorado and jumping in New York are very opposite endeavors.

“The view is completely different, we jump right next to the Rockies and so that’s what our typical view is, and here you can see New York and the trees, it’s a lot busier,” she started. “And the air is different because when we’re at altitude the air acts a lot differently than at sea level and by the water, so the air is a lot slower (in New York) so when we put an input, we don’t turn as fast. In Colorado, when you turn you can feel G’s on you because the air is so different, but here it’s nice and slow.”

USMA Class of 2019 Cadet Michael Colella believes the meet allowed his team to develop strong, competitive relationships with the Air Force Academy while representing West Point in competition.

“Although both teams are naturally competitive in spirit, we understand the strong bond between the sister academies and take any opportunity we can get to form a relationship with their cadets,” he said.

At the end of the weekend, Wings of Blue defeated the Black Knights winning both the six-way speed formation and the four-way competition.

Army defeated Air Force in the sport accuracy competition with Tristan Tarpey of West Point coming in first followed by Air Force’s Chandley Beachy and West Point’s Drew Cochran.