Big 10

Rome Travel Log: From Michigan to Italy

April 23, 2017

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April 23, 2017

The Michigan football program is on a one-week special educational and football experience for its student-athletes with a week of learning and practice in Rome, Italy. Follow the Wolverines on social media (#HailRoma) and with a daily travel log on

Saturday, April 22

2:27 p.m. — Three buses with 91 passengers depart from Al Glick Field House for Detroit Metro Airport. A group of 37 players and staff traveled earlier today on a flight from Detroit to Atlanta and on to Rome.

2:58 p.m. — The Indian Trails buses arrive at the international terminal for Delta Airlines at Detroit to begin the check-in process.

3:27 p.m. — The group heads through security individually after checking bags and getting boarding pass.

On Bus

DTW Airport

3:46 p.m. — Players and staff head for food and/or snacks at the numerous locations inside the terminal.

5:21 p.m. — Sitting at gate A40, the team is called for a group boarding by Delta.


5:42 p.m. — Coach Jim Harbaugh and his family board the aircraft and get settled into their seats for the eight-plus hour flight to Rome.


On Plane

6:04 p.m. — The Airbus 330-300 plane pulls away from the gate with a full plane of passengers, including members of the Wolverine football team.

6:14 p.m. — Takeoff! Delta Flight 236 takes off from Detroit for the 4,007-mile flight to Rome, Italy.

Sunday, April 23

8:45 a.m. — Touchdown! The Wolverines land in the holy city, Rome, for their week of educational enrichment and football.

9:10 a.m. — The travel party begins to move through customs, and many players walk over to exchange currency.

9:55 a.m. — The group gathers in a waiting area after collecting their bags at belt 7.

Michigan Players

Michigan Players

10:23 a.m. — The players and staff load two buses for the trip to Borghese Gardens, where they will interact with refugees from the JNS Refugee Center.

11:12 a.m. — Michigan reaches the first destination on its trip as ambassadors in Rome, visiting with 30-plus refugees while having a picnic.

11:35 a.m. — After eating lunch around a fountain, players and families filter around the area to kick soccer balls, throw footballs and sit on blankets.

12:41 p.m. — The second wave of players arrives at Borghese Garden along with the refugees. Coach Harbaugh and the players pass out backpacks for the refugees that include a Michigan blanket, shirt, sweatshirts, socks and hats.

12:56 p.m. — U-M players, staff and families take a one-hour tour of the Museum de Borghese Gardens.

Michigan Players

1:50 p.m. — Quarterback Wilton Speight teaches a group of about 15 refugees how to throw a football, going into the intricacies of using the laces and flicking or rolling the wrist. With each throw the refugees get better and better, and Speight applauds the effort.

2:38 p.m. — Speight does a live walk-and-talk interview with Marty Smith during the Sunday morning ESPN SportsCenter back in the U.S. (8:38 a.m. EDT).


Speight and Marty Smith

3:14 p.m. — Quarterback John O’Korn stops in the street and hands a homeless person a bag lunch, making sure the Italian was properly nourished.

3:30 p.m. — The team takes a long walk through Borghese Gardens to meet the buses for transport to the team hotel.

4:14 p.m. — Michigan arrives at the team residence for the week in Rome and proceeds to check into rooms with everyone getting a couple of hours of downtime after a busy stretch since arriving in Rome.

7 p.m. — The Wolverines travel party reconvenes for a meal at the hotel that includes assorted cruditee, suckling pig, toasted country bread, rigatoni, chicken and an ice cream dessert.

8:40 p.m. — Coach Harbaugh addresses the team and introduces FIDAF (Federazione Italiana di American Football) president Fabrizio Cupellini to share the story of two refugees that play for their team, Kana Jallow and Saikou Sanneh, who are featured in a moving 15-minute documentary produced by the organization.

Fabrizio Cupellini

9 p.m. — At the conclusion of the documentary, Coach Harbaugh talks about the resilience of both Kana and Saikou in overcoming many obstacles to play the game of football. He tells them that U-M defensive coordinator Don Brown has a saying for Michigan’s defense, “Solve your problems with aggression,” and Harbaugh tells them to carry that statement with them in their future football pursuits.

9:04 p.m. — After a standing ovation, many players and coaches from the Michigan team come up and meet and take pictures with Kana and Saikou.

9:15 p.m. — The final piece of the evening is the showing of “Gladiator,” the film starring Russell Crowe as Maximus, a powerful Roman general loved by the people, and the aging emperor, Marcus Aurilius.

Follow the social media accounts below to keep up with us during our trip to Rome, and make sure to use the hashtag #HAILROMA! 〽️

— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) April 22, 2017

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