News & Publications
The Imperial Wicket has a Big Job at the 28th Annual St. John's-Naval Academy Croquet Match
FOR RELEASE: April 1, 2010
CONTACT: Patricia Dempsey, 410-626-2539
At the 28th annual St. John’s College- Naval Academy croquet match on Saturday, April 17th at 1 p.m., both teams will be led by an Imperial Wicket – the “team captain” in croquet parlance. But there’s more to the role of head wicket than game strategy.
For more than 25 years, the St. John’s Imperial Wicket has been famously known for guarding the secret of the Johnnie croquet team’s uniforms, revealed minutes before the annual match against the Navy begins. Last year the Johnnies donned Viking garb and issued a challenge to the Navy as to who “rules the seas.” In years past, the Johnnie team’s attire has included everything from kilts, camouflage fatigues, and a Bruce Springsteen “Born in the U.S.A.” theme. The Navy team wears United States Croquet Association regulation whites, changing only their colorful ties each year.
Who is the mastermind behind the Johnnie team’s uniform this year? Leading the Johnnies as Imperial Wicket this year is Cameron Coates, a senior from Chicago, and heading up the Navy team is Midshipman First Class David Cole from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Though it sounds like something straight out of a Harry Potter book, the Imperial Wicket is a big job at St. John’s. “The Imperial Wicket handles details and people, such as getting money from the student government for equipment, supplies, gas, and costumes,” says Coates, who juggles a demanding senior academic schedule with securing funding to selecting his team roster and planning gatherings like the annual lunch with Midshipmen team the day before the match. The Imperial Wicket also deals with the wider croquet world –everything from representing St. John’s to the United States Croquet Association to leading the Johnnie team –to victory most years– at the intercollegiate national championships, and fielding interviews with the media.
Through it all, Coates remains unflappable, an efficient manager with a passion for the game. Why do Johnnies do so well at the sport? “We play all the time. There is no ‘team practice.’ Croquet is a lifestyle,” says Coates. “Johnnies like conversation, and most of the time you’re standing around talking to someone while another player is taking his or her turn. That’s why there are two players on every team.” (Players compete in matches in teams of two; there are typically eight or more players on the entire croquet team.)
What will the Johnnies wear this year? Coates has remained as tightlipped as his predecessors on what this year’s uniforms are: “I already know what the uniforms for this year’s match are, but I won’t tell anyone–not even my fellow players on the team, until it’s very close to the Match.”
Please note: The rain date is Sunday, April 18. No grills, kegs or dogs are permitted on the St. John's College campus. Alcohol containers on campus must be monitored by an adult 21 years of age or older at all times. Guest tents and tables may be set up only in the designated areas (in front of the Greenfield Library). No tents larger than 20-by-20 feet are permitted on campus. Guests will not be permitted to set up their spaces before 8 a.m. on the morning of the match. All tents and other personal items must be removed from the front campus by 8 p.m. on the day of the match, or they will become the property of St. John's College. Only lawn chairs and blankets are permitted in the vicinity of the croquet courts (north of the pathway to Prince George St.).