USS Abraham Lincoln Hosts 2022 Armed Forces Classic – Carrier Edition > United States Navy > News-Stories
The match took place on Abraham Lincoln while in port at Naval Air Station North Island for the 2022 Armed Forces Classic – Carrier Edition – the first time the event has been held on an active U.S. Navy vessel since 2011.
“It is truly an honor that on Veterans Day of the United States Navy Aircraft Carrier Centennial Year, we hosted the Armed Forces Classic Basketball Game on the flight deck of the Navy. ‘one of our most renowned aircraft carriers, the USS Abraham Lincoln,’ said Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, Commander, Naval Air Forces. “Those who serve, and those who have served, know that the military is the ultimate team sport, and I can think of no better way to salute our men and women in uniform than to celebrate this pastime together American on one of our nation’s capital warships.
Eleven years ago, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) held the first Armed Forces Classic – Carrier Edition. Wearing special camouflage-patterned uniforms, the University of North Carolina Tarheels defeated the Michigan State Spartans 67-55 in front of more than 8,000 fans, including former President Barack Obama and his family. The game stopped at sunset to remove colors.
After canceling the 2012 Carrier Classic scheduled aboard the USS Yorktown (CV 10), due to condensation on the ground, ESPN created an annual Armed Forces Classic as part of their week-long programming event America’s Heroes: Salute to Veterans, held annually. around Veterans Day. The first Armed Forces Classic was held in a C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft hangar at Ramstein Air Base. Since then, this annual NCAA Division I basketball game has been hosted at Camp Humphreys in the Republic of Korea, U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen in Puerto Rico, Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler in Japan, the Stan Sherriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, Fort Bliss in Texas, and the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage, Alaska.
“What an honor and privilege it has been to host Armed Forces Classic 2022 aboard Abraham Lincoln,” said Captain Amy Bauernschmidt, commanding officer of USS Abraham Lincoln. “There are a lot of similarities between the talented sailors I get to coach every day and what I’ve seen in the players on the pitch – they’re all hard-working, highly skilled young professionals who take pride in contributing to their team. It’s their hard work that makes the difference. This unique and premier basketball event is sure to be a memory Lincoln Nation will cherish for years to come.”
ESPN and Abraham Lincoln coordinated closely to organize the event, beginning with ESPN’s first visit to the ship after Lincoln returned from deployment in August. The collaboration culminated with sailors from the engineering department assembling the basketball court, spectator bleachers and lighting on the flight deck. The completed work allowed 3,500 fans to attend, in addition to space along the Vulture Row and observation decks on the island for Abraham Lincoln sailors to watch the game.
“For me and my team, it’s quite powerful to have this unique opportunity to bring a piece of civilian life to the military on their bases,” said Scott Pomeroy, associate director of events and business operations for ESPN Events. “The Navy has been wonderful, very hospitable and kind in helping us make this event a reality.”
With the competitors on board, fans lined up in the stands before the game started on a cool, partly cloudy afternoon on Naval Air Station North Island with a full view of the San Diego skyline. The unranked Michigan State Spartans were booked against the nation’s No. 2 Gonzaga University Bulldogs at 3:45. Play was halted during the match to retire the colors.
“This opportunity to play on an aircraft carrier in front of men and women who willfully put their lives on the line will be an experience that is going to mean something to young men who will play the game for a long, long time,” said the Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo “I said the time we played in North Carolina on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson – one of the most humbling experiences of my career, and I repeat, we are going to face one of the best teams in the country and we are going to be hosted by the No. 1 team in the world.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs defeated the Michigan State Spartans 64-63. Captain Amy Bauernschmidt presented a trophy to Gonzaga and an MVP award to Drew Timme.
The ESPN Armed Forces Classic is an annual series of college basketball games held near Veterans Day on military bases as a tribute to the United States military. The schedule for the future Armed Forces Classic remains tentative due to military operational commitments.