Outback Bowl Hosts Teams at Busch Gardens
Dec. 27, 2013
TAMPA, Fla. -- After spending the previous two days practicing and getting acclimated to new surroundings, the University of Iowa football team spent an afternoon at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay theme park.
Friday's event was the second official activity for Louisiana State University and the Hawkeyes hosted by the Outback Bowl. Players from both teams went on rides, fed animals, relaxed, and had fun with teammates.
"We're thankful for the Outback Bowl for hosting us," said UI senior cornerback B.J. Lowery. "This was another chance for us to be together as a family."
Senior linebacker Anthony Hitchens enjoyed the assortment of entertainment at Busch Gardens.
"This was like a mixture of an amusement park and a zoo," said Hitchens. "In addition to going on some rides, we fed a couple orangutans. This brings our team closer when we do activities like this."
Lowey said feeding orangutans was a cool experience.
"I've never done anything like that before," Lowery said. "I didn't know much about them before today; they're a smart bunch and well-trained."
Senior linebacker Christian Kirksey said after a couple practices, the theme park outing was a nice reward.
"We have been banging heads in practice for a while now, so this was a good time," said Kirksey. "I haven't been on a roller coaster since I started school so getting on the first one today was a highlight. It was good to do that again."
Senior linebacker James Morris explained that one of the advantages of coming to Tampa on Christmas Eve was to be able enjoy an afternoon of down time.
"It's nice to go somewhere that's foreign or exotic," said Morris. "This is an opportunity to relax, have fun and experience that. We put in two days of work and we get to have a good time here today.
"When we're on the field or when we're meeting, it's time to work. When we're at Busch Gardens, it's time to have fun in a reasonable way."
After an afternoon of free time, senior lineman Brett Van Sloten is looking forward to getting back to practice Saturday at Jesuit High School.
"This was nice to take a step back from football for a day," Van Sloten said. "Starting tomorrow, we begin narrowing our focus to the task at hand and that's to play football on Jan. 1. But today was a great opportunity for us to come out and experience Busch Gardens as a team."
On Saturday, the Hawkeyes will practice at 1 p.m. (ET) before select players visit a local Children's Hospital.
LSU and Iowa will meet New Year's Day in the Outback Bowl. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:03 p.m. (CT) at Raymond James Stadium.