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Day 2 - FCA, First Practice, Disney World & You're My Boy, Blue!

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Not going to lie to y'all, it's been awhile since I've been awake before the sun.

But today it was for a good reason that we left our hotel at 6:30 a.m. as several members of the football team joined team chaplain Adrian Despres at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Breakfast at First Baptist Church here in Orlando.

Student-athletes from both schools shared their stories while we ate breakfast. Kaleb Broome (pictured below) represented the Gamecocks, sharing about his faith and how he overcame a difficult childhood of foster care to get to Carolina and Division I football. It takes a lot of courage to stand in front of a large group and speak, and even more so to share a personal story, and the junior transfer from Georgia Military College did a great job despite being nervous and did all of Gamecock Nation proud.

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Click here to check out more pictures from today, including the FCA Breakfast, the first practice and Disney World.

After breakfast the team held meetings back at the hotel and around 10:00 a.m. we loaded up the buses to head over to Celebration High School to hold our first bowl practice in Orlando. We enjoyed beautiful weather - sunny skies and 50-60 degree temperatures.

I can't even really explain how much work goes into setting up a mobile practice from scratch in a new location. College football is a large operation with a lot of people and a lot of moving parts. Several departments and functions have to be picked up from Columbia and established in temporary fashion in Orlando for a week. Athletic training/sports medicine, equipment, ticketing, video, media relations, the football staff and office... everything. You're picking it all up and moving it. The equipment and athletic training staffs got to the high school early to have shoulder pads and gear, practice equipment (such as tackling dummies), coolers, Gatorade, and more totally set up before the team arrived. Scissor lifts were rented and in place for the video crew to film practice for the coaches.  We even had a mobile weight room as the strength and conditioning staff brought equipment from Columbia to set up 24 weight stations with bars and plates on an outdoor basketball court. The team would hit the weight stations for a lifting session after practice, after which the staff broke it all back down and loaded everything back in the truck until tomorrow.

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Stretching before practice begins

Select coaches and players spoke with the media after practice like we normally do in Columbia followed by lunch. After a good practice the team got some free time to head over to Disney World. Many of them had never been to Disney World before (myself included) so everyone was pretty excited. Now, Disney World after Christmas is apparently a pretty popular attraction even more so than other times of the year. It was PACKED but still a very cool trip. Several football players were stopped for pictures or just friendly conversations with fans on the monorail. Fun to hear some folks in the Sunshine State have decided to root for the Gamecocks on Monday!

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Exploring Magic Kindom


All that being said, perhaps the most surprising part of the day was talking with Josh Blue, a walk-on from Tatum, South Carolina (don't be alarmed if you haven't heard of it, Josh said there are only 63 people in the small town in Marlboro County). Blue caught everyone's attention in the lobby as we waited for our buses as he sat down at the piano to play. Blue taught himself how to play the piano simply by ear less than two years ago and is now playing songs he hears on the radio and even creating songs of his own. He's never had formal instruction; he knows the keys but hasn't even learned how to read sheet music yet. It was unbelievable and inspired several shouts of, "You're my boy, Blue!"

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Blue playing the piano much to his teammates' amazement

All in all a long but great day today and past time for this kid to head to bed! You can check out more pictures from today here on our Facebook page. Stay tuned with us tomorrow for Day 3. The team will practice and lift again and have some time at Universal Studios in the afternoon.

Also be sure to tune in to a special bowl edition of "Carolina Calls" radio call-in show with Coach Spurrier from 7:00-8:00 p.m. on the Gamecock IMG Sports Network. We'll be airing live from right here in the atrium at the Renaissance Orlando! 


There's still time to get tickets for Monday's Capital One Bowl match-up with Nebraska on Monday. Go to GamecocksOnline.com to order.

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