My name is Jarrod Kilburn, and I’m a junior quarterback at John Carroll University. In January 2011, it was announced that we were selected to face St. Norbert College in Dublin, Ireland as part of the Global International Football Tournament (GIFT) 2012, which also includes five high school football games featuring both U.S. and Canadian teams over the course of three days. GIFT 2012 is meant to showcase the growing game of American football in Ireland and leads up to the annual Notre Dame-Naval Academy game, with this edition being played in Dublin under the name of the Emerald Isle Classic. Our coaches and administration worked tirelessly to allow us to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m ecstatic to cover it for avid Division III football fans across the country.
Here’s Jarrod’s first entry:
The trip started with a team breakfast at 8 a.m. (eastern), double-checking the equipment bags over at Shula Stadium, and to load the buses. Luckily they were there on time and we were loaded and off to Cleveland-Hopkins International before 10. Surprisingly, for bringing almost 80 large human beings with 2 to 3 bags each, we breezed through security in under an hour. I was at our gate before 11, leaving me plenty of time to panic before we took off at 1:35 p.m. for JFK International in New York. There are few things that I hate more than flying and I can almost guarantee that I will be the most uneasy rider on flight 3582, even worse than any first-time flyers.
I never realized how close New York and Cleveland were before that flight. Hard to believe it was only a little over an hour to get there. While it was short, it was definitely an uncomfortable flight – planes that small are not meant for a college football team. Too many people in a too small space, but it still beat driving. Once we got settled, we split off and grabbed lunch and hung around the airport until we boarded out flight for Dublin at 8:30 – five and a half hours after we arrived in New York. I was beyond thrilled to see recharge stations every few feet because my laptop and iPod were not going to make the whole flight overseas without dying on me. I gotta say, Tom Petty had it right – waiting really is the hardest part. I wish we could board right now, partly out of getting the flight over with, but mostly because this whole thing will finally seem real. It’s crazy to think that I was at the presser for this game in January ’11 as a freshman with it one and a half years away and now it’s only a few days from actually happening. It’s difficult to put excitement into words at this point!
I still am having trouble believing that I’m actually in Dublin. I keep waiting for someone to say that this whole thing is a joke and that we’re in Dublin, Ohio. It really is that surreal. The flight over was not bad considering we all pretty much slept the whole way over and was extremely smooth. After passing through customs and claiming our bags, we split up into offensive and defensive buses and were taken on a tour of the area. The highlights of the tour were seeing the castles formerly under the control of the Talbots and the Taylors and hearing a little bit about their histories, as well as having lunch in Dublin and seeing the city for ourselves. Once we finished there, we bused to our hotel a few miles outside the city. The hotel is unreal – beyond big and built on a golf course. It literally is picture perfect, and that isn’t even doing it full justice. After getting checked in, though, it was back to business as we boarded our buses again to a nearby field for practice. Following that, we showered up, grabbed a great Irish dinner, and then had a quick team meeting before breaking up for the night. I have to say though; the time change was a bit bizarre, as at some point during the flight over the Atlantic we all of a sudden lost five full hours. At first, it was a non-issue since we were all so excited to finally be in Dublin, but it definitely hit us pretty hard once we left the airport. I don’t think I’ve ever been more tired in my life, to be honest, as I’ve slept maybe three out of the past thirty-two hours. By far, one of the longest but best days I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings and continue our preparations for St. Norbert’s Friday night. Onward on!
More on the John Carroll-St. Norbert game in Dublin: