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The Philadelphia Inquirer
There are plenty of difficult jobs in America, but perhaps the most challenging and complicated one - at least for the next 10 days - is the task assigned to Penn State football staffers Jay Takach, Michael Hazel, and Kevin Threlkel.
The three men are responsible for documenting everything - from office supplies to cleats to face masks to pom-poms - that the Nittany Lions will take with them next week to Ireland in preparation for the Aug. 30 season opener against Central Florida in Dublin.
All those items, which usually fill a 53-foot tractor-trailer for road games on this side of the pond, must go through customs in Ireland. They are expected to fit on Penn State's charter flight from Harrisburg to Dublin Tuesday night.
The flight will carry a traveling party of about 310, including 118 football players, coaches, and their families, plus university and athletic department administrators, band members, cheerleaders, and the dance team.
"There have been an enormous amount of challenges that we've had to face over the past couple of months just trying to get everything planned in terms of the equipment and the cargo," Takach said Wednesday during a conference call. "Right now we're still kind of finalizing the plans for that.
"We're working through United. We've got some hurdles that we have to overcome with the customs authorities in Ireland, said Takach, who officially has been on the job as equipment manager for two weeks. "Once we get that done, we'll have a better plan in place in terms of getting it set up in the locker room."
Hazel is director of football operations, and Threlkel is director of football administration. With Takach, they estimate that it will take as long as two hours to get through customs in Ireland. Then, they must make sure the equipment gets to the proper locations.
Customs prohibits batteries and the air horns that coaches use to signal players to the next drill. Takach said they will be "looking for other options that we can find that type of product in Dublin."
Hazel and Threlkel accompanied Penn State officials on a site visit in April to check out the team hotel, practice facilities, and Croke Park, where the game wil be played. The hotel is a half-hour outside the city and from the practice facility and the stadium, Hazel said.
"We were able to really narrow our focus on what we needed and what we didn't need," he said.
The team will hit the ground running when the charter lands Wednesday morning. The Lions will practice at University College Dublin on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. There will be a team dinner Thursday at Dublin landmark Guinness Storehouse, and players and coaches will tour the city after Friday's workout.