Jan. 8, 2012
The Northern Illinois University football team enjoyed their final team activity of bowl week, however, this time the Huskies were not alone. Many of the NIU faithful that made the trek down to Mobile arrived yesterday and accompanied them to the U.S.S. Alabama Memorial Park for a luncheon and a tour of the World War II battleship U.S.S. Alabama. In addition to the Alabama, the Huskies took a tour of the submarine U.S.S. Drum and posed in front of 24 assorted warplanes and helicopters including the A-12 Blackbird, F-18, F-14, F-15 and F-16.
Touring the "Mighty A" was an educational experience for the NIU football team. The Huskies got a real sense of what those sailors, many of whom were not that much older than they were, lived under during World War II. Commissioned on August 16, 1942, the U.S.S. Alabama served for three years in both the North Atlantic and Pacific theatres. It participated in six bombardments of Japanese held islands and shot down 22 planes. As the Huskies explored the ship one thing was pretty evident, the ship was not made with football players in mind. The stairs inside the ship were narrow and steep and many of the taller players had to watch their heads.
Following lunch and the tour, the Huskies headed to Ladd-Pebbles Stadium for team photos and a final walk through for tomorrow's game with Sun Belt champions Arkansas State. When the team returned to the hotel, there was definitely a different mood in the air. While the Huskies have enjoyed their week here in Mobile, ultimately they are here to play a football game. The team was on "lock down" confined to the hotel to begin to focus on Sunday's contest with the Red Wolves.
While the team had to stay at the hotel, those rules did not apply to the Huskie fans. Many boarded the fan buses and headed to downtown Mobile for the city's Mardi Gras celebration. New Orleans may be famous for Mardi Gras, the tradition Began in Mobile, Ala. NIU President Dr. John Peters and Associate Vice President/Director of Athletics Jeff Compher and his family took part in the parade, throwing beads to the crowd along the route. The Pride of the Midwest, the Northern Illinois University Marching Band and Victor E. Huskie also took part in the festivities. The evening ended at the Mobile Convention Center for a pep rally and fireworks.
Over the past four days, the Huskies have had the opportunity to experience everything Mobile has to offer. From outstanding food to entertaining and educational team activities, experiencing a different part of the country while bounding with teammates, NIU's trip to Mobile for the GoDaddy.com Bowl has been well worth the wait.