To be a good team a team has to look good on the field and needs the tools of the trade to be able to accomplish that task . For NC State baseball that task falls on the shoulders of Equipment Manager Jodie Cahoon. A veteran for many years Jodie has been working in that role since being the Equipment manager for the Triple A Richmond Braves.He has spent nearly the last dozen years serving in that capacity for the NC State Wolfpack baseball and as well to the State tennis team which has its facilities across from the baseball stadium.
Driving the baseball team for the last 8 years has afforded me the opportunity to work close with Jodie and see what it takes to get a baseball team ready to play on a daily basis at home and on the road . Some of the many tasks Jodie has to handle is the washing and drying of the players and coaches uniforms . At home at Doak Stadium Jodie has a set of industrial size washers and dryers to help speed up the process. He handles repairs to uniforms and equipment like gloves , catchers equipment, handing out essentials like batting gloves, cold weather items such as hats and gloves. During home games he has the responsibility of providing a locker room for the umpires with items like food and drink. Whatever needs they may have falls onto Jodie's shoulders as well as taking care of the needs of his team. For road trips he has to pack several bags for the equipment to travel in ,be sure there is enough things loaded like Gatorade , snacks, sunflower seeds for the weekend trip. Many times when I arrive at the stadium for an away game there is a flurry of activity in Jodie's room as he is usually multi tasking getting the team ready to leave. We usually travel with about 10 cases of Gatorades many boxes of various snacks , batting practice baseballs, bat bags , helmet bags and his own travel bag with various tools, tapes ect that may be used to repair equipment . The players are responsible for packing and loading on the bus their own personal travel bags. On the road Jodie works with the home team equipment manager to have the team's uniforms washed and readied for the next game as well as their loops . Most of the time a different uniform is worn for every game and Jodie sees that a memo goes out notifying as to the day to day uniforms to be worn on what day.
If you have ever been to game you know teams can go through a lot of baseballs due to wet grounds, foul balls and balls out of play. So during the off season Jodie sees to it that his supply of baseballs are ordered for the upcoming season . During a normal game teams can go through about 4 dozens of balls and during the off season Jodie says he ll order around 400 dozen baseballs. It's the home team's responsibility to provide proper approved baseballs for the game. The University puts in the bids and signs the contracts for equipment from various brands and then the task falls upon Jodie a NC State graduate as well to see the ordering and sizing and lettering is done as required. Players usually go thru two sets of bats during a season and during the off season months the big part of getting the team ready for the spring is done.
So as the ole saying goes "to play well you gotta look well" and that's a job that Director of Equipment for NC State baseball takes very seriously and the players rely very much on his ability to keep them that way.
This is a actual screen of the new electronic log devices being used in buses . The top bar graph is 10 hours driving status the second is the 15 hours on duty status graph and the last one is the 70 hrs in a 8 day period graph .
Today we continue our weekly blog on a story that will be dominating the motorcoach industry as December 18,2017 approaches. More than ever every second and every minute counts when drivers are out driving charters and tours. A plan in the works for years from the Federal Motorcoach Safety Administration got passed into law. A mandate that every motorcoach company must follow in the United States by December 18,2017. They must be in compliance with electronic log devices for their buses and drivers.
I think a review for our customers is in order in order so that they may understand more fully the impact this will have on their individual trips and motorcoach drivers. Still in tact as it always has been the 3 hours of service rules every driver must comply with but until now all drivers did their drivers log on paper and of course it could be adjusted misrepresented or simply fudged to continue to drive the exceeding amount of hours. The current Hours of service (HOS) for drivers is 8 hrs, 10 hrs, 15 hrs and 70 hrs. To break it down in the daily work day no driver may drive more than 10 hrs to go along with that no driver maybe on duty for more than 15 hours which means driving and or being still assigned to work duty such as touring , going out to dinner or doing other assigned duties but not driving, and during a 8 day period no driver may work more than a total of 70 hrs driving and being off duty not driving. Lastly a driver after completing his daily work must be off for 8 hours before resuming to work behind the wheel. All this was done to prevent bus companies from overworking their drivers , groups from overworking their drivers and lastly from drivers overworking themselves and causing the significant problem of fatigued driving. Over the years drivers while doing paper logs were mistaking their hours of service like driving to many hours in a day , not having the proper 8 hrs off between work assignments and it was hard for law enforcement officials to always detect fraudulent logs. These laws were always meant to protect the passengers who trust their lives with their drivers on buses. Going a step forward tour and travel companies were always trying to cram as much activities into a school trip in day D.C. Or New York City thereby creating a hazardous situation for the driver. Now with electronic logs it's going to require all bus companies and travel and tour companies to adjust their itineraries to reflect that their drivers are being compliant and everybody now is operating on a fair and equal playing field.
Now how will this all affect our schools and our customers as we go forward through this year. First of all many companies are now becoming compliant immediately and not waiting for the December 18th date. If these companies are operating the Electronic Log Device
(ELD) they will be utilizing the New on board computer system. So for our clients such as teachers and schools the important thing to remember is your driver more than likely cannot operate your tour the way it has been done in years past if you always had a packed full jammed itinerary. In the past most drivers being customer service orientated probably went over the 10 hrs driving status or maybe worked more than 15 hours on duty or maybe got up to accommodate a earlier departure in the morning meaning he was off duty less than 8 hours. Those situations can no longer occur. It is not because your driver or tour company wants to cut your day short or not leave earlier than anticipated he or she is by law required and the on board computer will not allow them to do so and if attempted or done it will put them into a violation status and could involve disciplinary action by various bus companies plus when the driver and or company has a DOT annual review those violations will show up and could result in high fines for he driver company or both.
So how does this work. Every time your driver starts his or her bus the computer is activated and the driver must log in. You will see a large computer screen somewhere on the dash which is visible for the driver to review where he is during the day related to HOS. When your driver goes in drive mode the computer begins the actual second by second driving time. When your driver stops it records how long he is still on duty until he changes his status to off duty at a location like a theme park or restaurant where no driver duties are required of him or her. At the end of the day your driver will log off duty and a complete daily recap appears as to hours driving, hours on duty, and he or she signs it just as if he is doing his paper logs but now it's on a computer data base. If a driver wants to start the next day without having the proper 8 hours off the computer will not allow him or her to drive without being put into a violation status and again forcing himself into a disciplinary situation at his or her company.
So companies like Blue Ridge Tours have Been trying to educate our teachers and school groups as well as our tour directors who work hand in hand with their drivers as to what the HOS rules are and how the driver is conducting his daily driving activities under the watchful eye of the the onboard computer . We cannot predict every minute of the activities and traffic congestion etc so this coming year as we transition into the ELD's it's going to take team work and understanding between school groups, group leaders, tour directors and drivers.
As an example as a driver toward the end of the day he can monitor how much exact time he has remaining. So say your on a DC monument tour or in NYC your driver as he is getting near the hour mark of time left allowed to be on duty he will advise the tour director and or group leader and advise them that at that point the day's activities must end and begin heading to the hotel in order to arrive at the hotel under the mandatory allowed hours on duty . By the way normal heavy traffic like in NYC or D.C. Or Atlanta is not allowed for a driver to say he had adverse conditions because DOT states we as drivers know as stated fact those places have heavy traffic on a daily basis. So when your driver advises he has to begin wrapping up the day day a teacher will think well gosh in other years we have been able to do more. Well your driver in supplying customer service probably went above and beyond in order to facilitate the request. Now no matter how much he or she would want to accommodate a group they will not be able to.
There has been stories of what will happen to the bus if the driver reaches the magic 10 hours of drive time or 15 hours on duty time. First it won't just creep up and surprise him as you approach within 2 hours of being in violation a prompt is given to warn the driver and continues every hour and half hour till you stop for he day or go into violation status. The bus will not shut down or strand the passengers but drivers are being trained to monitor their status and alert tour directors, teachers, group leaders that they will be approaching that period of time. What happens if you are on your way home from say D.C. Or NYC and your driver does start reaching his maximum allowed hours. The driver then is required to let his company know this and his dispatch will then begin to arrange a relay driver meaning another driver with fresh hours of service will meet your bus at a predetermined location and continue he trip home. Now,I'm sure there will be trips that a group wants to drive long distance to save a hotel or time and drive say from Greenville SC to say New York City or to D.C. Overnight and wants to tour all day. This can be done but it is done at quite bit more expense because it will require two drivers to complete the trip in a driver relay manner and still care as to the exact itinerary the schedule must be scrutinized to avoid violation of HOS. It's important for tour companies and bus companies to review and scrutinize more thoroughly as to the feasibility of completing the day's activities without the driver pushing to maximum allowed hours on duty. Blue Ridge Tours is doing just that as we begin to book and quote on 2018 trips. Keep in mind also there will be some trips that group leaders, tour directors and drivers will not ever notice anything different because of the more relaxed daily schedules but for those schools and tour companies that in the past have tried to squeeze every minute into everyday ,those days are now in the past. These new procedures are all for good and safety of the traveling public and the vehicles that share the road with the motorcoaches. So every second does count now 10 hours is legal 10 hours and 1 second is now a violation. Let's all work together to make this significant step in bus driver safety a successful one.
Since we last talked a week ago, NC State has been at home for a home stand which means I had the opportunity to be out with various sports teams like going to Daytona Beach with South Carolina State Tennis team for a few days in the Florida sun , always a drivers delight. Then it was back to Raleigh Durham for a long weekend of transporting our baseball team to the airport for a weekend trip to Notre Dame and while the Pack battled the Irish of Notre Dame I spent the time with the University of Michigan track team as they competed in a match at Duke University. Sometimes in The bus business situations occur where modes of transportation break down whether it be motor coaches or like in his case an airplane maintenance issue. After I dropped off the NC State baseball team after their flight home to RDU I'm hammering down for home in Greenville SC and a few days off! Well that's short lived because as I'm passing the Raleigh airport I get a text saying I need to return to airport pick up the Syracuse women's lacrosse team who is stranded at the airport after their flight to New York is delayed then cancelled due to mechanical issues. So now my days off turn into a stay in Durham and then the following day a drive to take the lacrosse team to Baltimore where they will practice and play Loyola University. So sometimes we never know where we'll wind up at the end of day when trying to get home. Luckily I did not have to go all the way to Syracuse because the team got their bus from New York to drive down to Baltimore. So once their bus arrived the next day after we had a neat visit to the US lacrosse Hall of Fame. I turned South and headed home to Greenville from Baltimore. With one day off Blue Ridge Tours is going full tilt with a very busy week of school trips and I have my opportunity to handle a middle school trip to New Orleans with a teacher who I have been working with for many years. Luckily I get a break from driving and got to go as a tour director and sit back and leave the driving to someone else. We had a great time in the Crescent City seeing sites like the Mardi Gras museum , the French Quarter, lunch cruise on the Steamer The Natchez on the Mississippi River and a very fun boat ride out into the bayou to see alligators and other wildlife. Not a highlight for me was getting to hold a small alligator but I caved in and held it. The French Quarter Jazz Festival was going on so my daughter Becky who is a school resource officer in Mauldin High School got to travel with me and we got to enjoy the great music and entertainment . After getting home I finally get a few days off before traveling back to Raleigh and a weekend on the road with the Wolfpack as they'll travel to Chapel Hill and play UNC Chapel Hill. Of course you know we have to just squeeze on more trip in between New Orleans and Raleigh and that was going with the University of South Carolina women's Softball team to the Myrtle Beach area to play Coastal Carolina- a quick 1 day trip. Our next blog we ll return to baseball and NC State and continue our feature on team staff members who help the team look good on and off the field- the team Equipment manager!
Well it's been a busy few weeks since we did our last blog, the NCAA college basketball tournament went into full swing as did the 2017 college baseball ACC Conference schedule so players and buses were plenty in motion . NC States first conference road trip was at Wake Forest University and the month prior to baseball season we were experiencing 80 degree days. Don't you know as soon as we get playing old man winter returns with a vengeance it was very cold and snow is forecasted for the weekend. Requiring us to play a doubleheader on Saturday and not play on Sunday since snow is forecasted. It was very cold too, with wind blowing and the temperature in the 30's it made for a chilly weekend of baseball in Winston Salem.
Part of my blog was intended to bring you the people who are behind the scenes of the college and pro teams who help to put the best team out on the field for you the fans to see. Today we are going to focus on the Director of Team Operations at NC State baseball Michael Salamino who is in his 3 rd year of that job and it's his hard work and constant changes like arranging team travel that takes allot of his time on a daily basis. Mike wears many hats for the baseball program. Most teams have an Operations person who arranges team travel, makes food arrangements and assists the players with their various needs, communicating with the opposing teams as to their needs when they play NC State in Raleigh. Mike and I work very close during road trips making sure the bus is at the stadium on time to pick up the players, when the team bus arrives at the opponents stadium as well as getting the post game meal for players. Mike also handles ticket needs for the players and coaches for each home and away game and serves as the home team game site administrator for home games. I often see. Mike hustling hard arranging pre game meals for the players before we board the bus for our road trip and upon arrival he works with the hotel to arrange the players and coaches and staff hotel rooms. His job becomes a real nightmare when bad weather plays a factor like in Boston two years ago when bitter cold and snow forced a cancellation of the Boston College NC State game on Sunday and Mike was forced to be up all night working with the airlines trying to get an early morning flight back to Raleigh and then getting with me to arrange the bus so it would be ready to depart a cold frozen Boston at 4:00 am, but he makes it happens and that is what Head Coach Elliott Avent counts on every day. During the year on non game days Mike wears many other hats like overseeing players that are attending class and meeting with tutors. He also sits in on various baseball related meetings and works closely with Director of Player Development John Lambert to see that players are meeting the strict player eligibility requirements of the NCAA and NC State like Grade Point averages . During the off season Mike still has many jobs to do like arranging prospective athletic tours of the campus and assisting various school departments for things like player media information, photo shoots for various media outlets. Usually around fall Mike begins the daunting work of preparing the hotels, airline travel and bus transportation for the upcoming season . The craziness of his job really sets in at the end of the season when the road to Omaha begins and our team is selected to host a NCAA Regional tournament or is selected to go on the road. Airline flights ,hotel arrangements , bus transportation all gets done in a matter of a days but to be in the NCAA baseball tournament it's work we all look forward to every June.
No sports team could survive with the Operations person handling all the large amount of behind the scenes daily activities that allows the players and coaches to just focus putting a winning team on the field. It has its difficult moments but at the end of the day when all the pieces fit it's a moment that make's Mike Salamino breathe a sigh of relief and get ready for the next home or away game.
#troopbus #pack9 #ncstatebaseball #whatsnewatblue #blueridgetours
This week's blog brings a new segment of team sports travel as I have been assigned to be in Atlanta for the weekend and transport Atlanta's first professional soccer team , the Atlanta United Football Club . Being it's a first for me I had no idea what to expect in this movement nor the size of the crowds that would be at Georgia Tech Football Stadium on Sunday but that soon would come into sharp focus! Upon arriving for pickup I noticed the players are from all over the world . Having been to Argentina a few times and knowing their official drink is called Matte , seeing one of the playing drinking this as he got on the bus I knew he was from Argentina. The team arranged a police escort from the pickup location in the northern suburbs in order for use to wind our way thru the maze of Atlanta traffic going to the game and just normal everyday Atlanta traffic and boy the police escort really does help out because no telling how long it would take for us to navigate to the game on our own. All NFL football and most college football teams provide a escort for us thankfully from the airport to team hotel on game day and return to the airport for departure.
As we arrived at Bobby Dodd Stadium I immediately saw a huge crowd of fans waiting to greet their new soccer team and the police escort and security formed a wedge of opening so I could get to the drop off point. The fans were definitely excited and pumped for the pre game activities. For baseball football and basketball you never see this kind of crowd size to greet a team. I did learn at the game attendance was listed at exceeding 55,000 fans. We as drivers usually have passes or are allowed into the games we drive to and being an Atlanta first I definitely wanted to see this inaugural game. Quickly I realized how in Europe crowds can get out of control because these fans were not your American football or baseball fans , they were fans within an edge and I'm sure the alcohol helps that. I did get to see the first goal in the history of the Atlanta United but it wasn't enough as they fell to defeat to the New York Inferno 2-1. A quite ride back to their hotel late Sunday and before I begin the 2 1/2 hour ride back home I took a quick ride by to see the new Atlanta Braves new stadium that is set to open in a month in North Atlanta . We do a lot of work with the Braves as well as many other Major League teams across the country.
It's a short layover after getting home at 4:00 am. Tuesday it's back to Raleigh to begin a week's worth of traveling with NC State baseball to Wilmington vs Wake Forest University to open up the 2017 ACC Conference schedule. A unique thing that stood out was going to Athens Georgia for an airport transfer of the school's Equestrian team. I was given a tour of their barns and facility and learned some new things about a this collegiate sport. Something you may not know is that the SEC Conference has 4 Equestrian teams that compete- University of Georgia , University of South Carolina , Texas A&M, and Auburn .
Our next blog will begin with a segment on the various off field sports personnel and their roles in helping to put the student athletes onto the athletic field. Until then Troopbus be rolling down the highway!
#atlantaunited #troopbus #Pack9 #NCStateBaseball #whatsnewatblue
Today the owner of Blue Ridge Tours is setting out on a new adventure into the world of blogging. Thru the gentle nudging of his wife Donna, Steve is going to take us behind the scenes of the sports world as well as the school educational field trip world from the front seat of the motorcoach- yes the driver's seat !. He has a unique job that as well as being the owner of Blue Ridge Tours for the past 29 years, Steve is also a motorcoach tour driver for Champion Coach in Greenville Sc whose speciality is providing bus service for college and professional sports teams. Steve has been with the company since its inception 19 years ago and drives many sports teams on their road trips. He's done this for many years driving teams such as the Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Falcons, New York Yankees, New York Mets, University of South Carolina sports,Duke basketball ,and the list could go on. But the team that is the closest to his heart and is his true sports family is the North Carolina State University baseball team. He has been blessed to be starting his 8th season with the team under Head Coach Elliott Avent . A large portion of the blog will touch on the 2017 road schedule of the NC State baseball team and the weekly events that go on behind the scenes of what it takes to put a sports team on the field. Most fans only see what happens on the field but there is so much that happens off the field that is equally important to delivering the players to perform on the field . Through this blog you will see what it takes for a team to travel on the road for multiple days, what game day is like before the game begins, when weather hampers play, get away days and more.
One piece of advisement from Steve is not to be looking for that juicy bit of gossip or personal information about the teams, coaches or staff. He believes in the sanctity of "what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse" and being a team driver for teams we do see and hear personal events or situations that can be negative but He feels that those things should stay off these kinds of pages and stay on the bus . There is enough good positive information that will be shared through the next several weeks. The 2017 baseball season road trip schedule begins today for NC State as we are at the University of North Carolina Greensboro for a mid week game .
Finally Steve has for many years worked with journalism and writing various magazine articles for the South Carolina Trooper Magazine. Steve is a retired South Carolina Trooper and for a few years served as a writer and magazine coordinator for the magazine. Along with his 32 years of driving tour buses along side his career of being a state trooper he has "seen and heard it all out here on the road" as they say . Through this blog we hope to put some of the memories down on paper and to be able to share the up close and personal nature of being a sports team bus driver and bring to you the behind the scenes details about what it takes to bring a sports team to your living room or to you the fans in the stands.
I will plan to bring this blog every week around the beginning of the week and highlight what has transpired the previous week on the road with the various teams he is traveling with. College basketball will be in the picture for the first few weeks as the college season heads to the finish line and college baseball heats up to being in full swing and as April comes so will Major League Baseball from around the country as we prepare to get the major leaguers to their respective ball parks. So enjoy the ride and play ball!
#letbluewowyou # teambrt
#brtfieldtrips # #brtschooltours
Well this past the week the wheels on the bus began to turn fast and furious as tour drivers everywhere begin to get busy with the spring workload. For those of us doing sports it's equally busy as college basketball seasons winds to a close with their various conference championships going on and college baseball kicking off their seasons. So for me that means the start of a hectic springtime. In the early part of the week I bounced around Burlington ,NC transporting Northeastern University basketball playing Elon University and then we travelled down to the NC coast to play UNC Wilmington. After dropping Northeastern off at the Wilmington airport I needed to hustle back to Raleigh and meet the Duke University men's basketball team flying in on a charter flight from Miami and transport them back to the campus. Prior to unloading the team their head coach Mike Krzyzewski gave his team a pep talk and it was interesting to listen to a future hall of fame coach and how he talks to them in a locker room type environment on the bus. You know he knows how to win and motivate. Then in the morning I went back to Duke to transport the Duke women's basketball,team to Chapel Hill to play UNC Chapel Hill at Carmichael Arena. Interesting halftime show got to watch the various minor league baseball team mascots and NASCAR mascots play a shot game in their outfits. Pretty hilarious we never know what we'll see out here. Getting back to campus we see the famous Krzyzewskiville inhabitants camped out waiting to get in line for the men's basketball game Tuesday against Florida State. The fans are rabid at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Finally my favorite time of the spring is here traveling with the NC State baseball team and a short trip to UNC Greensboro which we won that afternoon. Always great to see last years players who were eager to give the fist bump and high fives since this year I can walk with no pain since having two knee replacements in the off season. It was a terribly painful year last year but the coaches and team helped get me thru it. Big hugs from my favorite coach Head Coach Elliott Avent who I highly respect and admire along with his coaching staff. It's just great to be back with He team and now to begin learning the new players names. I make it a point to know every player on the team by their first name as quickly as a can but this year we have quite a few new players on the team so I have quite task ahead. Heading back to Raleigh the bus is usually quite even after a win and Coach Avent always wants to know if I'm going back to Greenville SC after dropping them off at their stadium and wants to be sure I'm feeling good and rested to do it. It's a rather long boring 4 hour 250 mile journey I make quite often during baseball season and after helping get equipment off the bus and farewells till the next road game I head off down that dark lonely Interstate 85 towards home and a day off.
#Pack9 #NCState Baseball
#letbluewowyou # teambrt
#brtfieldtrips # #brtschooltours
My name is Steve Sulligan, I started my law enforcement career in 1979 retiring in