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‘We Also Have To Make Sure That We Get Home In A Reasonable Time For Christmas’

By BRENT STUBBS

Senior Sports Reporter

bstubbs@tribunemedia.net

BETWEEN the two teams, it took about three airplanes to get their entire contingent to the Bahamas this week for the second version of the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.

The Western Michigan Broncos used one plane - Atlas Airlines - to transport their 95 players, 75 staff and other members, who included family members and friends from the city of Kalamazoo. The Middle Tennessee came in from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, with about 300 people, including 106 players.

It’s the first time that both teams have ventured outside of the Bahamas and their sports information officers noted that it has been a challenge to get here, but it was worth the effort.

Rob Beverlin, the SIO for Middle Tennessee, said they left their stadium around 8am Sunday, flew out about 10am and arrived in the Bahamas around 1:14pm. By the time they got into the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island and settled down, it was about 4pm.

“We had to ship a lot of our stuff down here from December 11. That’s a lot different for us because we usually have a bus that leaves a couple days before carrying all the equipment, but we had to send our stuff three weeks before the game,” Beverlin said.

“It was a lot of inventory and preparation, trying to figure out how much everything would cost and determining what to send and what to leave at home. We wanted to send the majority of the stuff on the boat rather than bring them on the plane with us.”

Both teams are here with their presidents, a full slated of staff, coaches, players and support personnel.

“This is huge for us, especially with recruiting because everything we do, it’s for recruiting in terms of getting players to come to Western Michigan,” Beverlin said.

“We could tell them that if they come to Western Michigan, they could go to places like The Bahamas, the greatest vacation destination in the world and also we are trying to win our first Bowl game, so if we can do that, it will put another feather in our cap.”

Beverlin said the players were head over heels when they were told that they are coming to the Bahamas and now that they are here, they are relaxing in the sun when they are not engaged in any aspects of football. He noted that the stadium is awesome and they are looking forward to putting on a show for the public.

Mark Owens, the SIO for Western Michigan, said they had to charter two planes to get all of their players, coaches and their families, their staff and their families, their boosters and their administrators and their families to the Bahamas.

“We have a couple of guys in Kortne Gosha and Chris Matusek, along with a bunch of other folks who have worked tirelessly to make this all happen.

“This was not easy,” Owens said.

“When you have to deal with everybody’s passports, our equipment and the logistics of this huge hotel and the food for the players and the different practice sites, it’s been a lot of work. We have not just been trying to get everybody here, but we also have to deal with getting them out here and making sure that we get home in a reasonable time for Christmas.

“People think that we just come here and play football and we go home, but it’s not like that. It takes a lot of work and even more behind the scenes to make it all happen.”

But Owens said it has all come together and there would be no better feeling than to hoist the championship trophy in the air as the victor of Thursday’s game.

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