With just 24 hours to go before Eastern Michigan and Old Dominion meet on the gridiron, the two teams met with the media at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium Thursday afternoon. The mood in the room was light as the players and coaches reflected on the last few days preparing for the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl.
“My favorite part of being here was going on all the water slides,” Old Dominion senior linebacker T.J. Rickes gushed. “(The) Leap of Faith (water slide) – I was kind of scared to go on at first. I just got on it and it was a piece of cake. I just want to thank Popeyes, the Bahamas and ESPN for inviting us here.”
He wasn’t the only player excited to speak of his experience. Eastern Michigan senior defensive lineman Mike Brown is not only making his first trip out of the country but also this is the first time he has seen the ocean.
“Just flying in, I’ve never seen an ocean before in person,” Brown said. “Just going over the ocean, and seeing the different colors of the ocean. I was like ‘wow. Arriving at the hotel, and seeing Atlantis.”
The players are not the only ones enjoying their time in the Caribbean. Both head coaches have taken time away from Popeyes Bahamas Bowl preparation to enjoy all that the Atlantis and Paradise Island has to offer.
“I laid on the beach and played in the sand with my kids,” Eastern Michigan head coach Chris Creighton boasted.
While Monarchs head coach Bobby Wilder has been challenging his players on the various waterslides.
“During the team meeting’s yesterday, Coach Wilder called out a few of players for being scared of going on the waterslides,” ODU senior quarterback David Washington said. “He got on them pretty good. (Coach Wilder) was on the lines to ride the slides himself. I heard he did pretty well.”
The most special part of the week has been the respect and interaction between the two teams. With two prior matchups in the books (teams met in the 2014 and 2015 seasons), the programs know each other very well. They both have had a great time off the field together.
“It’s clear that both teams want to be here,” Wilder said. “We’ve had some great interaction with the Easter Michigan players and staff. They’ve spent a lot of time together doing different events. It’s clear both teams are excited to be here.”
Not to be forgotten, the two teams left some incredibly cold weather to come to the Bahamas and they are thankful for not only the opportunity but the warmth.
“I’m just thankful for the opportunity to get sunburned because Michigan was really cold before we left,” Brown said. “I’d rather be sunburned than frozen.”