"Croquet is great. It is an awesome sport that is generally fun," Blake Myers of Santa Fe, NM, said. He is imperial wicket, or team captain, for the St. John's team.
The match is scheduled for Saturday, April 30, on the front lawn of St. John's College. The ceremonial first ball is struck at 1 p.m., and the match usually lasts for two hours, with festivities continuing through the afternoon, according to Patricia Dempsey, spokeswoman for St. John's.
In case of rain, the competition will be held on Sunday, May 1, at 1 p.m.
The winner of the competition will be awarded the Annapolis Cup and students from St. John's, called Johnnies, have won it 23 out of 28 times, Dempsey said.
"The croquet match continues to attract more than 2,000 spectators to a free event marked by elegant and outrageous costumes, music by groups from the academy and St. John's, and a general community outpouring of spring fever," Dempsey wrote in a media release.
In addition to croquet, the event will feature champagne picnics, but grills and kegs are not permitted. Spectators are encouraged to don elaborate clothing akin to what was worn in books like The Great Gatsby, Dempsey said.
"The spectators have become more of a spectacle than the game," said Leo Pickens, director of athletics at St. John's.
Featured music will include serenades by the St. John's Freshman Chorus and swing tunes by the Naval Academy's Trident Brass Band, Dempsey said.
The uniforms of the Johnnies will remain secret until the competition.
"The Johnnies play in uniforms—ranging from camouflage khakis and helmeted Vikings to kilts and bare feet—that change each year," she said. "The Mids adhere to the United States Croquet Association's code, wearing spotless white shirts, pants, sweaters and shoes—and change only their ties from year to year."
Tom Blackmore, a student and history major at the U.S. Naval Academy from Danville, VT, said he competed against players from St. John's last year, and looks forward to the opportunity to play again. He said most of the time, playing croquet is relaxing.
"It's kind of a mix between golf and pool," he said.
Midshipman 1st Class Dan Abney of the U.S. Naval Academy is imperial wicket for his team. He said the game can be challenging.
"I was drawn to it because it's really fun. It's a combination of skill that you have to teach yourself," he said.
For more information about parking and other issues regarding the competition, visit St. John's College's website.