Notre Dame will pack nearly 20,000 pounds of equipment on its charter flight to Dublin Wednesday afternoon to go along with a little more than 20,000 pounds worth of football players. One thing that won’t be weighing them down on the trip across the Atlantic is food.
Notre Dame will do its best to bring the team's regular training table menu to Ireland this week.
The Irish packed almost all of their own meals for the four-day trip, but customs check points won’t allow the team to carry their food with them, according to team nutritionist Erika Whitman. Whitman instead is hoping that the large packages of food are waiting for the team at their hotel when they arrive for breakfast early Thursday morning.
“That’s the one thing that we can’t put on our plane and fly over there. We’ve had pretty much everything that we can shipped there,” she said. “Hopefully it’s all there waiting for me.”
Whitman said she has done as much as possible to try to keep the team on its regular pregame diet despite the long travel distance. There will be no corned beef and cabbage on the menu for Notre Dame this weekend. Whitman says the team will keep it simple with pasta and red sauce the day before the game and follow that on Saturday with all of the other comforts of home like trail mix and American-made Gatorade leading up to Saturday’s kickoff.
“I think there’s a huge mental component to it,” Whitman said about making sure the coaches and players feel as much in their regular routine as possible with food this weekend.
That includes even the nittiest and grittiest of details.
“We’ve gotten very specific over the years with little things. If we put trail mix on our menu for a nighttime snack we realized we have to clarify what we want in that trail mix,” said Whitman, who is starting her sixth season with the football team. “They want the same things each night before and believe they’ll let me know if something is missing, if it’s not what they expect.”
Whitman said the team will leave South Bend loaded with electrolyte-packed solutions to keep them hydrated during the long, transatlantic trip. Skipping across time zones and spending long hours in the air typically causes big changes in hydration levels, she said. Other than that the only big challenge for feeding time is making sure the team meals help sync the team with Dublin time. Eating at the right time can go along way to help adjust to a new time zone.
“I think we’re just trying to keep them on a schedule and feeding them at certain times as we leave,” she said. “We’re keep the dinner normal [Wednesday evening] and then when we get on the plane we’ll feed them again. We’ll try to get them to sleep and then we’ll wake them up and have breakfast. It’s kind of like we’re trying to transition to get them more on that routine as well.”