NORFOLK, VA (WTKR)- There is no shortage of excitement and anticipation surrounding the Myrtle Beach Bowl and after weeks of talking about it and preparing, Old Dominion finally hit the road to South Carolina on Thursday morning.
It was certainly a suitable send-off. The band, cheerleaders, administration and fans gathered outside the L.R. Hill Sports Complex on campus to wish the Monarchs well as they boarded the buses for Myrtle Beach.
"We've gotten tremendous support from the university and the fans all year, so this is just another example of it," head coach Ricky Rahne said.
"It's a nice, great turnout," added senior defensive back Joe Joe Headen. "Let's hope to see everybody down in Myrtle Beach and it'll be a good time."
"It's a great feeling that our supporters came out and showed us love before we got on the road," senior wide receiver Ali Jennings III said.
The atmosphere was a positive and enthusiastic one on Thursday morning. ODU hopes that's the kind of energy that follows it down to Myrtle Beach.
"Everybody's very enthusiastic and we're very excited to have some fans out there, especially since it's decently close," senior offensive lineman Nick Saldiveri noted.
"Obviously we want to have a great crowd down there, show everybody what Monarch Nation is all about and show people that we can have just as much fan support as anybody in this country," Rahne said.
After five straight wins and three weeks of bowl preparation, it's finally time for Old Dominion to hit the road.
"It's been a lot of preparing, a lot of hard work," said Jennings. "We just gave everything we had and it's great to finally be here."
"It's surreal," smiled Headen. "I'm just trying to embrace everything that's happened and just take it all in."
"We still have work to do when we get down there," Rahne noted. "That's what I've been trying to tell all of our guys is this is a business trip and we've got a lot of work left to do."
The fans and the school sent a strong message to the team on Thursday morning that it has plenty of support in Norfolk. The players and coaches have a message for Monarch Nation as well.
"Just come down, be loud and it's going to be a good time," said Headen.
"Tune in," added Jennings. "It's going to be a great show and can't wait to bring this bowl game back."
"Come down and join us," asked Rahne of the fans. "This is going to be an experience that's going to be a way to celebrate this great season. [We] would love to see everybody there."
Old Dominion and Tulsa kick off on Monday at 2:30 in the Myrtle Beach Bowl.