A Week in the Life of a College Football Bowl Participant
The Chick-fil-A Bowl, like other bowls, isn’t just a one-day affair. Creating the best possible experience for all involved, from players, to coaches, to families, to fans, is the desire of both Chick-fil-A and the Atlanta Sports Çouncil.**
“Our goal during Bowl Week is to create opportunities for players to live, laugh and learn,” said Gary Stokan, president and CEO of the Chick-fil-A Bowl. “Whether it’s sharing a laugh with a child at one of the local children’s hospitals or learning a piece of history at The King Center, we want to provide a memorable, first-class reward for these student-athletes."
My Chick-fil-A Bowl Journal: *
Dec. 25, 2008
Morning – I’m celebrating the holidays with my family before leaving for Atlanta and the Chick-fil-A Bowl. I received an early present this year, as my bowl gift package was sent prior to leaving for the game.
It was a pretty sweet package, featuring two Russell hats, a Russell travel bag, a $300 Visa gift card, a Chick-fil-A gift card, and a Fossil watch. I also heard a rumor that we may have other separate packages coming.
Afternoon – We leave soon. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. It’s going to be great to play in a big game, and on a big stage. I’m ecstatic to have the game in Atlanta, because I have friends and family nearby attending, which in turn makes me more of a nervous wreck.
Yet, I’m confident in myself, and my teammates. We can get it done. I have to cut this short…“Hotlanta,” here we come baby!
Evening – My teammates, coaches, and I have arrived. Our hotel really rolled out the red carpet for us. Or should I say gold, considering the team colors and logos that flood the place. This place is our house ‘til game time, no doubt about that. I need to roll, grab a bite, and meet up with my teammates. Until later…
Dec. 26, 2008
Morning – We have buses getting us everywhere we need to go, which is convenient instead of dealing with the Atlanta’s mass transit. First things first today: practice. We put in two and a half hours at the Georgia Dome, and got our first work in while being down here.
Afternoon – After getting cleaned up, the team headed down to the ESPN Zone, where a welcome party was prepared for us. Not only did we manage to get some good eats in, buffet style, but also some competitive games. I didn’t fare so well in Wave Runner, but I’m proud to say that I came out undefeated in air hockey. None of these guys could even touch my skills.
Evening – Just getting back from the welcome party, where good times were had by all. Dude, these Chick-fil-A cows are everywhere. I feel like they’re following me. Honestly, I’m OK with it, as long as it’s the one wearing my team’s jersey.
Dec. 27, 2008
Morning – The boys and I are off to get another good workout on the practice field this morning: two and a half hours. Running short on time, so I better get my stuff and go.
Afternoon – I heard the coaches’ wives were having a spa day while we were on the field practicing this morning. A massage sounds great right about now.
We just returned from a trip to the King Center. What an amazing experience! It was great to learn more about the legacy and life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Evening – Earlier, some teammates and I participated in the GA Power Football Feud, which was basically a rendition of “Family Feud,” with both teams battling against each other.
Offense vs. defense, all kinds of crazy football-related questions, plus there was a solid fan turnout. Oh yeah, I and other graduating seniors were honored during the show, which was great.
Dec. 28, 2008
Morning – Practice started a little earlier today: a solid two-hour session. The team is feeling more and more confident each day. A few of us (plus Coach) headed on down to the Sheraton Atlanta for the press conference.
I’ve been involved in these before, but today just felt much bigger...big stage, more media, more of everything. I even thought one of the Chick-fil-A cows was going to drop a question on me before it was all said and done.
Afternoon – Both teams got a chance to attend the Atlanta Falcons game at the Georgia Dome. Great game. The Falcons held on for a 31-27 victory over the Rams, and with minutes to go, they still had a shot of earning a first-round bye in the NFL Playoffs (until Carolina beat New Orleans).
Either way, the place was electric because of that possibility. Coach said the wives of the staff were on a shopping trip today, and his wallet was feeling lighter by the minute. Poor guy.
Dec. 29, 2008
Morning – Today, we attended the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Breakfast. There may have been 500 people there… at least 300.
It was impressive, plus there were a few famous faces present, including TBS’s Ernie Johnson as the emcee. Today is a busy day. We have practice soon.
Afternoon – Another two-hour practice is in the books. A few of the guys (plus the coordinators) also participated in a press conference earlier. After everyone returned, the team paid a visit to the Children’s Hospital at Scottish Rite.
It was great to see the way these kids’ eyes lit up when we visited them. We got to spend some quality time with them, an hour and a half as a team plus a half hour combined visit with our opponents to the Hughes Spalding Children’s Hospital. It really meant a lot to us.
Evening – The team was treated to a meal at Fire of Brazil, an authentic Brazilian steakhouse in downtown Atlanta. Funny, I never saw the cows there…just kidding.
Anyway, the place had an ambience for sure, the filet mignon was fantastic, and the salad buffet was impressive. After dinner, the team visited the Georgia Aquarium, which happens to be the largest in the world.
Dec. 30, 2008
Morning – Coming up just after noon we have the Texaco Scholarship Luncheon and “Chalk Talk” (presented by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution). Have to run… I’m starving.
Afternoon – The “Chalk Talk” was cool, as it had a lot of fan interaction, with the coaches discussing prepping for a game like this, X’s and O’s, and what not.
Evening – We had our team walk-through at the Georgia Dome earlier tonight. It made us realize that the game is just around the corner. We’re all getting fired up. I can’t wait to run out onto the field tomorrow night.
Dec. 31, 2008
Afternoon – We had to walk through FanFest on the way to the Georgia Dome. The town is electric, you can tell that game time is only hours away.
Otherwise, it’s a low-key day for us...finally. It allows me personally to sit back and reflect on the year, and get mentally ready for tonight’s big matchup.
Evening – This is it, baby! Game time is finally here and my final entry before kickoff. We are ready... we had a great week of practice, and some great food, fun, and experiences. The game is here. “EAT MOR CHIKIN”, PLAY MOR FOOTBAWL. Let’s do this! Until later…
* Disclaimer: Not an actual journal, but a depiction by the author, using real Bowl Week events
** Special thanks to Bryan Harris of Jackson Spalding, who was gracious enough to help provide a lot of great information about the Chick-fil-A Bowl experiences, plus quotes and team information.
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