June 11, 2014
Boys of Summer Send-Off | Omaha Arrival Photos | Send-Off Photos | GoPro Photos
And it begins.
For the last three days, Vanderbilt's players have envisioned what Omaha and the College World Series would be like. They had heard stories from former teammates and friends, seen photos and watched games on television.
Finally on Wednesday, the Commodores got their first dose of what the mecca of college baseball is all about.
The team departed campus at 4 p.m. before an energetic crowd that lined up near Parmer Field House to pose for photos, get autographs and wish the team luck as it embarked on its second-ever trip to the College World Series.
It's only been three years since Vanderbilt's last trip to Omaha, but the cast of characters is almost entirely new. Coach Tim Corbin remains, but all of his assistants are new and only two players on the 2014 roster were a part of the 2011 team. However, neither member - T.J. Pecoraro or Steven Rice - traveled with the team to Omaha.
On Wednesday, the anticipation of what lies ahead was at an all-time high. Players wore grins from ear to ear and filmed nearly every moment of their trip, posing for photos with teammates along the way. As the Commodores' charter flight made its final descent, cheers of "Omaha" could be heard throughout the cabin.
After approximately a 1 1/2-hour flight, the Commodores touched down at Eppley Airfield where they were greeted by members of the welcoming committee. After boarding the bus, the team made the short trek from the airport to TD Ameritrade Park. The drive from the airport is only a few miles away and actually dips briefly into Iowa before returning across state lines, giving players the opportunity to say they visited two states during their trip to the CWS.
Just as the Commodores did in 2011, the team's first stop in Omaha was where they plan to spend a lot of their time over the next few weeks: the ballpark. Entering through the team entrance, the Commodores were given a brief tour of the stadium from the dugout to the locker room and finishing with the press box.
At the conclusion of the tour, the players headed to the Road to Omaha sculpture - the iconic symbol of the College World Series. Players snapped photos in front of the sculpture and a handful, led by Tyler Beede, even recreated the formation, which drew a good laugh from teammates.
By the time the tour concluded, the clock was nearing 9 p.m. and the sun was just beginning to set. It is typical this time of year in Nebraska, as well as other areas of the Midwest, for it to stay light past 9 p.m., allowing for nearly one extra hour of sunlight compared to Nashville.
As the sun was setting, the team was back on the bus headed to the Double Tree, which will serve as their home for the duration of their stay in Omaha.
Upon arrival, the players were greeted by the sound of Dynamite and staffers with gold shakers, welcoming the team to the hotel. An extra bonus was the distribution of cookies upon check-in, a Double Tree staple that is certain to be taken advantage of to its fullest.
Thursday will be a light day for the Commodores before everything ramps up on Friday. The team will practice at Creighton University in the afternoon as it continues to get acclimated to the city.