Inside an away game: Travel with the Boise State Broncos

Bronco fans know the atmosphere of game days at Albertsons Stadium — the parking lots are buzzing with fans, blue and orange decor cover the streets, tailgates are down and the stadium is packed with fans eating overpriced, delicious-smelling venue food, all while our Broncos are inside Bleymaier Football Center awaiting to take the field. 

While the football facilities on campus remain quiet on away games, the business of Boise State football does not halt. 

So, what does Boise State’s travel routine look like for visiting games? 

“You would be shocked,” Keaton Davis, Boise State Football Operations Coordinator said. “People don’t understand what goes into preparing and hosting a college football team for two days.”

With a mountainous amount of staff contributing to the travel and organization for away games, the operational side of football often gets overlooked. 

“All staff contribute to the operation when we are on the road. That’s the awesome thing with our group. Everyone will step up and contribute if someone needs help at any point,” Davis said. “There is hardly a time where someone comes on a road trip as just a body and doesn’t contribute to the success when we are on the road. We are a family and we have each other’s backs.”

Here is an insight into what trips look like for our student-athletes and other staff involved. 

Typically, the team leaves the day before the game. For instance, if Boise State plays on a Saturday, the team will take off Friday after their fast-paced morning practice. 

The Broncos recently traveled to Memphis, Tennessee to play the University of Memphis Tigers at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium. 

With Memphis being nearly 2,000 miles away, this extensive trip looked slightly different from regular conference away games. 

On Thursday, Sept. 28, before their game on Saturday, Sept. 30, the Broncos bussed to the airport from campus and boarded their striking blue and orange plane. 

“There is a lot of preparation and planning that goes into away games. From making sure that the hotel, police escort and stadium faculty knows our weekend itinerary to planning the post-game meal arrives during the middle of the game,” Davis said. “My travel weekend begins by advancing the day before the team leaves to check off and make sure that everything is ready for their arrival. Meeting spaces are set with the right video equipment, the make-shift training room is ready, the meal room is prepped with the right place to sit and correctly colored tablecloths.”

The logistics and routine of travel days are important as they keep players and coaches focused on executing come game time. 

“It’s extremely important to have a set routine/schedule for the team,” Davis said. “We have so many coaches and players that operate the same way, each week. Their Mondays are the same, their Tuesdays are the same, their Fridays are the same.”

Once the plane lands, many jobs need to be done. Gear needs to be loaded, buses filled according to position and hotel rooms and conference spaces organized. 

“We’re fortunate and blessed to have the operations team that we do. Charlotte Siegel, our Director of Football Operations can plan travel with her eyes closed,” Davis said. “Making sure that the whole travel party has a seat on the plane as well designated to a certain bus based on their position or role within athletics. There are plenty of logistics that you have to plan for.”

For longer trips, like Memphis and bowl games, the Broncos will have a practice while on the road. 

“We have a motto when it comes to road trips. ‘It’s a business trip,’” Davis said. “The mentality is to go wherever we are going, get in, win the game, take care of our business on and off the field and get back home safely. We are there for one thing, and one thing only.”

The team will again take their buses to a field previously arranged for the Broncos. 

At practice, the behind-the-scenes efforts of the football program stretch even further than equipment staff and graduate assistants. 

Other important facets of the team include the athletic training staff and nutrition staff. 

These personnel are on a continuous grind during visiting games, setting up tables at the fields and hotels, to tape players and aid their rehab while on the road. 

The nutrition staff is responsible for having fueling stations ready to hydrate and charge the players immediately following practice and games. 

“Sam Wade, our head dietitian, is the lead making sure that food is good on the road,” Davis said. “From the Friday night meal at the hotel, to the half-time and energy snacks that are provided — she covers almost anything that deals with food. The good news is we will never run out of it.”

Notably, the team semi-truck that transports equipment leaves earlier than the plane and accompanying staff. This truck travels to every away game and carries essential items such as practice footballs, practice pads, cameras, physical training appliances and more. 

“We have two truck drivers that have been taking care of Boise State Football for almost 20 years,” Davis said. “Jayson Johnson and Rocky Vaughan are the incredible men that drive the equipment truck across the country for BSU football. They are a significant backbone to our program and we couldn’t function without them.”

The creative team puts in countless hours of work to craft videos for social media, jumbotrons and team hype videos. This staff also travels with the team to showcase the atmosphere of away games. 

“I like to show our fans and surrounding community different sides of football they don’t typically get to see,” football creative employee Jordynn Puckett said. “Video allows us to show things like emotions, locker rooms and players hyping each other up. It’s fun to bring all that together.” 

Within the media realm of Boise State Football, there are also the working hands of coaches film. 

“Film allows players and coaches the resources to see their positioning and mistakes and the ability to address them in meetings and practices throughout the week,” film staff employee Cooper Nocera said. “When traveling, my role primarily consists of importing film after practices and games. Once the game is over we put game cut ups onto coaches’ laptops specific to what side of the ball they coach.”

After the battle on the field where they are supported by Bronco fans, who are known for traveling well, the team heads to the locker room, grabs catered food and makes their way back to the airport for the journey home to the City of Trees.

The Broncos are slated for three more regular-season away games. These will come against  Colorado State University on Oct. 14, Fresno State University on Nov. 4 and Utah State University on Nov. 18.

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