Inside Communcations: What Makes Up a Road Trip

On the third Monday of every month, a member of the Georgia State Sports Communications staff will give InsideGSUSports a look at what is going on in their department. Yes, we realize we are a day-late this week…too much great stuff going on in athletics so this needed to be pushed back a day. Over the course of every month, each department will be featured at least once. Coming next Monday: Video.

I am often asked what it is like to be on a football road trip. For this month’s blog post, I decided to give our fans a behind-the-scenes look at a road trip, specifically the team’s recent trip to Morgantown, W.Va., to face the Mountaineers.

After much debate (about 10 seconds worth), I decided it would be too boring to tell you what the sports communications staff does on most road trips (we look at a lot of numbers and talk to the media, shoot some photos and get some quotes). So instead, here is a look at what our student-athletes see from the time leaving the practice facility to getting back to Atlanta (For fun, I did sprinkle in some sports communications stuff..I know our fans are dying to know).

Friday, Sept. 13

2:00 p.m. – The buses leave the GSU Football Practice Facility and head to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. It takes three buses to transport the team: Offense on Bus 1, Defense on Bus 2, Staff on Bus 3.

3:00 p.m. – After going through security at Landmark Aviation, our charter headquarters, the team is fully on-board and ready for take-off aboard our AirTran plane, with snacks and drinks ready for all. The day before a game is the most important time to get hydrated, so it is Powerade and water for everyone. The service is always top-notch when the Panthers on on-board.

Boarding the Plane4:20 p.m. – The plane lands in Pittsburgh, Pa. right on time. Three buses are waiting for the team and we quickly load up for a 45-minute ride to the hotel.

5:10 p.m. – Upon arrival at the hotel, everything is already set-out for the team. Student-athletes and staff grab their room keys and head off to get some rest to be fully prepared for Saturday’s game.

6:00 p.m. – The team gets together for a dinner. Tonight’s menu is prime rib, salad, veggies and lasagna. As you can image, it takes a lot of food to feed an entire football team and tonight is no different. Staff members go out on their own and do some exploring. For example, the radio team and several others enjoy a nice meal walking distance from the hotel. My personal rule on the road: “Never eat in the hotel and always try and find a non-chain restaurant.” I have nothing against chain-restaurants, but I always like to find something I can’t back in Atlanta.

6:30 p.m. – A new tradition has started this year as coach Miles likes to take the team to a movie the night before games. He uses it as a time to allow the student-athletes to rest their minds a little and sometimes to teach a lesson or use it as motivation. Tonight’s movie is The Family.

10:15 p.m. – The team has one final meeting, a quick snack and then in bed for bed check, tonight promptly at 11 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 14 (Gameday)

Gameday varies week-to-week, based on what time the game. This week is an early start, noon ET, so meetings and pregame meal are earlier than they would normally be.

8:30 a.m. – Both the offense and defense hold their final meetings before the game, going over any last minute details or things to look for from the opposition.

9:00 a.m. – The team gets together for pregame meal. This morning it is chicken, veggies and pasta, all fully loaded with carbs to have the team performing at its best once the game begins.

9:15 a.m. – The buses pull out headed for Milan Puskar Stadium. Since the team actually stayed in Pennsylvania (Morgantown is just over the boarder), the police-escort will meet us at a rest area once we cross the state line. Having a police-escort is a must when trying to get to a stadium packed with fans. This one keeps us moving rather well.

10:15 a.m. – Arrival at Milan Puskar Stadium. The team is escort to their locker room where the equipment team (which arrived at 7 a.m.) already has everything set-up and running. They do a great job making everything is ready well before anyone ever sees it.

11:08 a.m. – The first group is out on the field warming up as the stands start to fill-up. You can definitely feel an excitement in the air. From the communications side of things, we have gone over pronunciations with the announcers, answered any last-minute questions and finished setting our plan for the day. For road trips, we take two people from the Sports Communications office, one to stay in the press box and the other to work the field. Today, Allison George will reside in the press box while Mike Holmes handles photography and sideline media/injuries. Mike will also fill in as the sideline reporter, working with Dave Cohen and Brandon Leak.

View from the field12:08 p.m. – Kick-off! The team is feeding off the excitement in the stadium and it can be seen on the sideline.

Halftime – The Panthers trail 17-0 at the half, but know that they are still in the game and just need to stop the self-inflicted wounds that coach Miles mentions walking off the field.

Late in the Third Quarter – After senior Travis Evans rushes for a 65-yard touchdown run, the Panthers trail just 17-7 late in the third. Of the 57,000 fans in attendance, almost all are sitting on their hands while the Panther fans go nuts in the one corner of the stadium.

0:00 on The Clock – The Mountaineers finish off a 41-7 win over the Panthers with Evans rushing for a career-high 115 yards.

4:45 p.m. – The team has loaded the three buses once again for a police-escort to North Central West Virginia Airport where the plane is waiting to take the Panthers home.

6:00 p.m. – After going through security, the plane takes off to head back to Atlanta. Despite the loss, the view out the windows is one of a gorgeous part of the country. The rolling hills and mountains are breath-taking as the plane climbs to 35,000-feet.

7:15 p.m. – Back in Atlanta. Three buses pull up to take Georgia State back to campus.

It is amazing to me how much goes into a 30-hour trip away from campus. Unfortunately this trip did not end with a win, but still it was a learning experience for all of those involved. Time to get some rest and start all over again on Sunday morning to start preparing for Jacksonville State (and that includes the sports communications staff).

–Mike Holmes

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