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Staging an Imperial Comeback

Posted by Brady Lee on January 16, 2015

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ANNAPOLIS—Not willing to wait for his first semester at St. John’s College to arrive, Sam Collins (A15) took one last visit to the campus before his freshman year.

“I wanted to see it again so I went down here with my dad for croquet,” said Collins, who is from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He attended the Annapolis Cup, the annual croquet match between St. John’s and the U.S. Naval Academy.

“I was like, ‘That’d be cool to do’. And now I’m doing it.”

Now a senior at St. John’s College and imperial wicket leading the croquet team, Collins is looking to rebound after the Johnnies’ two straight losses to the Midshipmen, after going 25-5 in the first 30 Annapolis Cup matches.

When reminded of the recent losses, Collins and other members of the team remained positive and talked about their preparation for the coming match. “We talk about strategy or new things that we should try,” Collins said.

“Look at the tape. Film study,” added Matt Denci (A15), another senior on the team.

He was only half-joking; Denci received some DVDs on croquet for Christmas. “We’ve been looking at those recently,” Collins said. “They talk strategy and technique for your shot.”

The winter weather did not keep them from practicing.

“We actually went down to Pinehurst Country Club [in North Carolina] for four or five days to hang out with some of the national team for croquet and learn some stuff from them. If we can, we find warmer weather when Annapolis doesn’t comply.”

It did not comply last week; they stood on St. John’s College’s front lawn in a couple inches of snow.

“Sometimes we shoot balls up and down our hallway until people get mad at us,” Denci said. Carpet works, they said, but it is a very fast surface and in dormitory hallways space will always be an issue.

“As long as it’s flat, the balls will stop at some point,” Collins allowed. (“Thank you, sir Isaac!” Denci added.)

The main draw of croquet has always been the culture at St. John’s.

“It’s a fun game. It really works with what Johnnies are. It’s a lot of strategy, talking with your partner, conversation, discussion, the things we do,” Collins said.

“It’s a very laid-back thing. We’re always having the mindset of practicing and getting better, but also we just really enjoy playing croquet.”

Brady Lee (AGI14)

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