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January 3, 2009

SCS.comMonday, December 22nd (7 days until the bowl game)

Monday was reserved for luggage drop off and was the day we finished packing both the semi-truck and the other Ryder truck we rented to help haul luggage down to San Antonio.

The day started at 6 am and we had our last practice in Columbia before leaving for our week in the Alamo City. After practice we loaded luggage for nearly two hours. For bowl trips, anyone who is anyone in the athletic department travels to the game so we always take an additional truck that is reserved just for luggage. The luggage drop off was from 10 am to 12 pm and we loaded somewhere around 200 suitcases, strollers, children’s toys, Christmas gifts, printers, TV’s and anything else imaginable for our week long journey. The semi-truck left just after 3 pm and the Ryder truck left three hours later as they set off on their 15 hour drive down to SA.

When we left work it was still unclear as to what time we would be leaving Tuesday morning. Due to severe weather there was a chance that the plane would not be landing in Columbia, which meant we would have to leave early Tuesday morning and bus to St. Louis. If the plane did land we were scheduled to leave Columbia at 7:30 am; however, we got a call Monday evening saying to meet at the airport Tuesday morning at 4:30 to bus to St. Louis. Needless to say, it made for a rough day!

Tuesday, December 23rd (6 days until the bowl game)

After our trip to St. Louis we boarded the plane and landed in San Antonio just after 10 am. We took charter busses to our downtown hotel where we unloaded the luggage and took it up to the rooms so that when the players, coaches and other administrative staff arrived their bags would be in their rooms.

After unloading the bags we headed to the practice facility to unload all of our practice gear and set up for the next week of practice. For bowl week we bring everything. Every practice pad, every Gatorade cooler, an extra practice jersey for every player, etc. We have to prepare for anything to go wrong and have to take everything we need; it is essentially like moving the equipment room for a whole week.

After we set up at the facility we headed back to the hotel and walked around the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio for the rest of evening before heading to sleep to get up for practice the next day.

Wednesday, December 24th (5 days until the bowl game)

Wednesday morning we got up and headed to practice. Practice started at 10:30 so we left the hotel just after 8:30. After practice I went to spend some time with my family. Being born and raised in San Antonio, I got to spend some time with my family during the bowl week, which was nice. The rest of the guys headed out to a ranch where they had a Christmas Eve dinner and enjoyed activities such as horse back riding and game playing with players and families. One of the fun things about bowl week is the different activities and events that happen around town. Since most of the players and student workers were away from their family on Christmas it was a good evening out and chance to forget about being away from home.

Thursday, December 25th (4 days until the bowl game)

They say there are no holidays in the sports world, and Christmas is no different. Christmas morning we all got up and headed to practice. Since the coaches tried to make the bowl week as similar to a regular week as possible, Thursday’s practice was a usual Tuesday practice in full pads and with lots of hitting.

After practice we loaded up the laundry. During bowl week the bowl hires a local person to do the laundry, which is nice because it is one less thing the equipment staff has to worry about. After we loaded up the laundry we went back to the hotel, showered, and then the entire equipment staff headed to my house for Christmas dinner. My parents had a BBQ and it gave everyone a chance to feel like they were around family for the evening. With events such as karaoke and eating, who couldn’t be happy?

Friday, December 26th (3 days until the bowl game)

Friday was one of the most exciting days of the bowl week. After practice the players competed in what is called the “Future Bowl.” During the Future Bowl, the underclassmen, freshman and sophomores who will make up the future of the football program, play in a controlled scrimmage. It is a time for good laughs and for the younger players to showcase their skills; all in all it’s a reminder to everyone that bowl week is about relaxing and having fun, in addition to winning the football game.

After practice the players headed to Sea World, for a chance to relax and see one of San Antonio’s premier attractions. During the Sea World trip, a select number of offensive players and the offensive coaching staff attended a press conference, one of many media requirements during bowl week. Many of the players who went to Sea World enjoyed the roller coaster rides and some left with large stuffed animals as memorabilia from their trip to San Antonio.

Saturday, December 27th (2 days until the bowl game)

Saturday was the longest day of the week. It was our last practice which meant we had to pack everything up and move it to the Alamo Dome, where we would be playing the game on Monday. We packed up all of the equipment, headed over to the dome and then unpacked it all. We also set up the locker room for game day and handed out jerseys for the team photo which would be happening Sunday morning.

After setting up the locker room we went back to the hotel and watched some bowl games. That evening there was pep-rally held in which the teams traveled down the river in barges and the bands and cheerleaders got the city ready for the game.

Sunday, December 28th (1 day until the bowl game)

Sunday was the most relaxing day of bowl week. We headed to the stadium early in the morning and set up for the team picture, changed some decals on the helmets and then headed back to the hotel. The official part, including the Chancellor, President of the university and other high ranking members of the university and alumni association arrived that day so we delivered their luggage to their rooms before having the rest of the evening off to check out downtown San Antonio for one last evening.

Monday, December 29th (Game Day)

Monday started with loading up the Ryder truck with luggage that we would be taking back to Columbia. Some players travel from the bowl game by themselves and others don’t pack anything so the load was significantly lighter on the way back to Columbia than it was on the way down.

After that we headed to the Alamodome which was only about a mile from our hotel. We made our pre-game adjustments as we had done all season, replacing more decals, replacing some visors and cleaning shoes before the players arrived. Once the players arrived I took my customary spot in the radio booth and waited for the game to begin.

At the start of the game the Tigers were flat. Northwestern was pumped up and ready to play and it showed as a dog fight ensued and the pesky Wildcats from Northwestern forced the game into overtime. The game was a great one for fans to watch; however, for most around the program it was a little too close for comfort. Nevertheless, the Tigers pulled out a 30-23 overtime victory giving Mizzou their second straight bowl victory.

After the game, we interviewed players amidst the balloons, fireworks and trophies. We did the interview with Coach Pinkel in the locker room and then I returned to the radio booth to shake hands with everyone and thank them for a great year. After I had said my goodbyes I went down to the locker room and helped the equipment staff load bags for one last time.

After the bags were on the truck we met in the parking lot and said goodbye. The rest of the staff headed back to the hotel where they would spend the night and fly out early Tuesday afternoon. I headed home with my mom and dad and put a close on what has been a remarkable season.

The Alamo Bowl victory gave Mizzou a 10-4 season and capped their second straight bowl win. It also capped the career of many great players including Jeff Wolfert, Chase Coffman, William Moore and Chase Daniel. The Tigers' success should pave the way for another great year and should give the Tiger fans something to look forward to.

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