Dec. 20, 2011
ABOARD THE USS MIDWAY, SOMEWHERE IN SAN DIEGO BAY -
Louisiana Tech was all shipshape here Tuesday aboard 70,000 tons of floating American diplomacy.
Tuesday’s Landmark Aviation Team Luncheon on the USS Midway is the highlight event of the week leading to Wednesday night’s 7 p.m. CST kickoff of the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl featuring Tech and Texas Christian.
The event provided a perfect opportunity for the entire Bulldog Family to show off, and that’s just what they did.
Folding tables and chairs were set up in the ship’s massive hangar bay. Hundreds of fans and family, as well as tomorrow night’s opponents, quickly went through lunch lines for brisket, potatoes and salad. The program involved some welcomes, a quick word from school presidents and coaches, five-minute video highlights of each team, and a short address from a “Make-A-Wish Kid.”
Tech’s Band of Pride started things with the national anthem, quite an honor when it’s played aboard the longest-serving U.S. Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century.
Tech fans and team family members arrived in southern California in large numbers Monday evening and Tuesday morning, and the hundreds dressed in red and Tech Blue were very vocal in all things involving Tech aboard the Midway. Great showing.
Tech president Dr. Dan Reneau complimented his team and its fans, as well TCU and its chancellor. “But as far tomorrow,” he said, “I have to wish you moderate success.” Tech folk loved that.
Tech coach Sonny Dykes, following the Tech video done first with stills and captions and then with highlights and music, said two things happened at the bowl that he’ll especially remember, besides Wednesday’s game and the week of hospitality. “Our 3-year-old, Ally, at SeaWorld rode her first ride, ever. So I guess I’ll be going to Disney World a lot in the future. And our 7-month-old started saying ‘Daddy’ out here.”
The Poinsettia Bowl is the only bowl that has a non-profit partner woven throughout the game; Make-A-Wish, which grants wishes to critically ill children, is the beneficiary. One Make-A-Wish Kid will sing the national anthem Wednesday. One will pick up the tee on the field after the opening kickoff, and one will aid in the coin flip.
Each team has an honorary team captain who is a Make-A-Wish Kid; Tech’s honorary captain is a 17-year-old, Christian. Dykes gave him a hat and Tech game jersey with his name stitched on it. “Looks pretty good in that,” Dykes said to applause.
Players vote in secret for a member of their athletic department who best exhibits sportsmanship, scholarship and leadership. This year’s Wishes Come True Most Inspirational Award went to Ed Jackson, the program’s character education coordinator and assistant strength and conditioning coach. Jackson’s five daughters have been on the trip and were at the luncheon, where Jackson sat with former Tech great Willie Roaf.
“I’m the father of five girls; the guys know that that’s off base,” Jackson said with perfect timing. Much laughter followed. “They know because I constantly pound it into their heads.”
A couple more quick quotes:
- Chance Snow, assistant athletic director/tickets, was involved in a little fender bender Tuesday when he rear-ended a Mercedes with his rented car. All is well though: a master salesman, Chance sold the guy he hit four tickets to the Poinsettia Bowl and sold four more to the nice lady at the rental car place. It’s a bit of an extreme sales tactic, but they, that’s Chance!
- Qualcomm Stadium will officially be called “Snapdragon Stadium” for the next few days, including for Wednesday night’s game. The new name allows Qualcomm to advertise its new Snapdragon processor found in many cell phones. The Tech team left after the luncheon for team picture and walk-through at Snapdragon.
- Former Tech linebacker Tony Tademy, who played with Jackson in the early-80?s at Tech, is a coach for TCU and introduced his wife, daughter and son to some of his old teammates before Tuesday’s luncheon.
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