Packing for a five-day international trip isn’t easy. It’s even harder when you have more than 3,000 pounds of luggage.
For the football team’s trip to the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, FIU’s equipment staff had to bring everything but the stadium and the practice field. Football games are not common in the Bahamas.
“‘You better hope you packed everything you need. Because if you’re short by day one or day two, you’re out of luck. There’s no way you’re going to get what you need,” said Brady Gagnon, an equipment manager for the team.
Preparations began as soon as FIU accepted the bowl invitation. The equipment staff reached out to previous teams in the Bahamas Bowl for advice. They helped the team understand the specificity of the cargo manifest required by the U.S. Customs & Border Protection and the Customs Department of the Bahamas Government.
The manifest documents every item making the trip, including 40 shoelaces, a coffee maker and 24 styrofoam cups.
“We have to count every single thing that’s in any of our trunks — even the pack I have for practice. If I have a stick of gum in there, they have to know about it,” Gagnon said.
The team sent their large items—pallets of gatorade, backup shoulder pads, extra cleats, rain gear—in a 40-foot container to a port near Atlantis, Paradise Island on Dec. 10. The uniforms travelled with the team on Dec. 17; Gagnon learned that previous Bahamas Bowl participants had lost entire sets of uniforms to mold while they sat on cargo ships.
Gagnon’s equipment staff faces other challenges in Nassau, too. They must account for ground transportation.
“Once we get over there, it’s a lot of golf carts to get around versus cars. For us, it’s trying to transport 150 people from point A to point B. We have two different practice sites and then the stadium itself,” Gagnon said.
There is no margin for error. On Thursday, cargo workers will pick up the equipment from Paradise Island, bring it to Thomas Robinson Stadium and drop it off there. After the game on Friday, they load up a ship at a port near the stadium. The team is set to leave Nassau on Friday by 7:30 p.m.
The Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl is the only international bowl game in college football. It is an incredible experience, but a challenging logistics operation. Fortunately, the equipment staff is prepared.