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Home Away From Home - Baltimore Ravens - Superbowl XLVII

Apr 30, 2013

by Kevin Domboski, Assistant Athletic Trainer, Baltimore Ravens

Athletes are creatures of habit and even more so when it comes to the “Big Game”.  So as a team begins it preparations for what will be the culmination of a season that will be defined by whether it wins or loses this single game, the athletic training staff also works to do its part.  Even though this is done week in and week out throughout the season, when it comes to the Super Bowl one looks to make sure no stone is unturned in creating a “home away from home”.  

During the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, each team spends one week at their facility that has all supplies,  modalities, pools, tubs, and everything the football team is used to when preparing for a game.  The second week of game preparation is at a premiere hotel in the city of the game.  However, hotels, while they are luxurious and accommodating, are not necessarily set up to accommodate every need of a professional football team for an entire week.

During the two week preparation time for Super Bowl XLVII, our staff looked at the many needs of our players and what their regular routines were in our training facility. One that stood out to us was the player’s use of our hydrotherapy room.  In our state of the art facility we have an in-ground hot tub and cold tub that can hold approximately 20 to 25 players each.  These tubs are more like small swimming pools than the typical hot tub.  Our players will use the two tubs for varying reasons before and after practice, whether to warm up prior to practice or to ice down their legs afterwards.  Quite a few of our players will move between the hot and cold tubs to contrast their leg which helps to aid in their recovery.  So as a staff, we felt it necessary to find a way to provide our players with the ability utilize hot tubs and cold tubs down in New Orleans, at our team hotel. 

So our next mission as a staff was to figure out how we were going convert a traditional hotel ballroom, which was the assigned “athletic training room”, for the week and replicate as much as we could the facility we have in Baltimore.  In order to accomplish this mission, we decided to bring two of our traditional whirlpools, which are big enough to hold one player each, up from our stadium.  The players are use to using these at the stadium and so they would be familiar to the players in their new “home”. Each whirlpool was placed on a wooden pallet in order for us to be able to operate the drainage system for the tubs.  We then loaded them onto the moving trucks that were bound for New Orleans.  That was the easy part. 

The next challenge was for our advance setup team.  Shortly after the conference championship game, each team taking part in the Super Bowl sends an advance setup team to get ready for the team and its support staff to come into town.  The logistics of moving an entire NFL football team operation for a week is no small feat.   Our staff utilized the Ravens’ advance setup team to help prep the ballroom to become a waterproof hydrotherapy room.    One thing to keep in mind is that gallons upon gallons of water and expensive hotel carpets don’t mix well.  So extra time and care was taken to protect the carpeting in the hotel ballroom from any water that might be spilled.  Next, two layers of plastic were laid down followed by a piece of thin carpeting for a little bit of comfort and the ballroom was waterproofed and now ready for the whirlpools. 

The only two things left to secure to make us operational was a source of water to fill the tubs and a way to drain the tubs.  We were able to find both of these back in the service corridor of the hotel behind our ballroom.  So out came the 100 ft garden hoses to fill the tubs and another hose to drain them at the end of the day.  We also found out that one needed patience, as it didn’t take that long to fill them each morning, but draining them was another story.  We quickly realized it was best to just let them drain overnight.

When the players entered the training room in New Orleans they were pleased to see all the accommodations we had provided for them, including the tubs.  Many players look forward to this ritual as they planned out their week of mental and physical preparation in New Orleans.  Being able to keep routines is essential to many athletes success.

In the end, we were able to find a way to provide our players with an operational hydrotherapy room which provided a similar environment to what they had back home as best we could.  We really felt this allowed them to go through their regular weekly routine of preparation as best they could and prepare for what was the biggest game of their lives. There were many factors that led to the Baltimore Ravens winning Super Bowl XLVII, and our staff feels that we were able to contribute to that success by helping to make that hotel ballroom a “home away from home”.



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