NMU, Tech ROTC cadets run game ball 100 miles

Brice Burge

The Michigan Tech-Northern Michigan rivalry is one of the biggest rivalries in the state, but the Miner’s Cup is only a recent addition to the battle for Upper Peninsula athletic supremacy. As the Huskies and Wildcats have fought over the trophy, a little-known story of the schools coming together to celebrate the rivalry has developed over the years.

The Miner’s Cup ball run is a 100-mile trip by NMU and MTU ROTC members to run a ceremonial game ball from the visiting team’s field to the home team’s field for the game. Just like any home game for the Wildcats, the game ball started at the top of the Superior Dome to be rappelled down from the rafters over midfield. It then makes it way out of Marquette, two to three miles at a time down U.S. 41/M 28 with the help of the NMU ROTC cadets. At the Baraga roadside park at 6 a.m., a ceremonial exchange between the commanding officers sends the ball up U.S. 41 to Sherman Field by Tech’s program.

“It’s crazy. It’s a lot of fun,” said senior cadet Ben Crockett. “When you walk into a room full of NMU cadets … who come in and (they) want to run in the middle of the night — in the winter  of the U.P. — and have so many people volunteer, it’s awesome.”

The tradition started with the conception of the Miner’s Cup, as the trophy was originally founded by former Michigan Tech junior commander and current NMU senior commander Kyle Rambo. The run was a way to generate interest in the game and the rivalry, but now has become just as important to the participants as the game itself.

“To hold the ball in my hands as I run, it’s like scoring the game-winning touchdown,” Crockett said.