Following Flynt - Christmas Eve in OrlaNDo

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Dec. 23 was a great first day in OrlaNDo, but today, Christmas Eve is when the festivities truly began. If you follow any of the players on Twitter, you may have noticed a lot of talk this morning about airports. With a short break from practice and football responsibilities over the past few days, most of the team was traveling from back home. The "Our Team, Our Story" video above provides Mike Golic Jr.'s perspective of the trip as he departed from Connecticut earlier today.

Players arrived throughout the morning and everyone was in Orlando by mid-afternoon for a team meeting and practice. Practice will be followed by a team meal, before many of the players depart for an evening at Sea World.

Walking around during these first couple days, the size of our hotel is a bit overwhelming. I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say it might take me longer to walk from my room to our "office" here in Florida than it takes to drive from my house in South Bend to the Guglielmino Athletics Complex back on campus.

That being said, the hotel has three pools (plus a children's pool), jogging trails, a golf course, tennis, basketball and volleyball courts, and multiple cafes and restaurants. But don't be alarmed.

That's not to mention the banquet and conference rooms that have become dining areas, position meeting rooms and a players' lounge. The bowl trip is an opportunity for the players, coaches and their families to enjoy some time together, but Coach Kelly, his staff and team remain focused on their matchup with Florida State next Thursday. If the Shamrock Series was designed to take the university to a different city, Bowl Week takes the entire Gug on the road.

For me, it doesn't quite feel like Christmas Eve. Usually at this time, I'm getting out of 4 p.m. Mass and preparing for a nice dinner with my family. This is the first Christmas I've ever spent away from them and the winter weather of upstate New York. Going for a run this afternoon in a t-shirt and shorts, it felt more like spring break or summer vacation than the holiday season. The hotel is definitely not void of Christmas decorations, but something seems strange about walking outside and seeing palm trees and green grass rather than icicle lights and snow.

It's tough to miss the holidays at home with my parents and brothers, but I know there are some people who are away from their loved ones and may have no one to share their Christmas with. I feel truly blessed to be surrounded by the Notre Dame family here in OrlaNDo. It's a different kind of Christmas for me, but one I will definitely enjoy and certainly not forget.

I hope everyone has a happy, safe and joyous Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas, Irish fans.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

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