The Ohio Wesleyan football team was packed and ready for their flights to Italy on Tuesday for exhibition games. But they ended up spending about 24 hours stranded near the airport instead.
Half of the team flew out, but the second flight was cancelled ahead of a round of international football games.
"I’m not by far the hardest working guy on his team. They probably paid for it every nickel and dime by themselves. I had help,” said offensive lineman Chris Badenhop
He is talking about the $3,600 each Wesleyan football player had to raise to fund their trip to Italy for American Football Worldwide.
He says the team raised money for the trip through summer jobs, graduation presents and even their life savings. “We also collected donations from friends (and) family members. A lot of people worked really hard to make this trip happen for all these guys.”
Wednesday should have marked a big day on the football field in Italy, with the goal of raising interest in American football. Instead, the team is tied up in Columbus, blitzing flight schedules and trying to push their way onto any flight overseas.
Half of the team flew out yesterday, but Delta cancelled the second flight for the remaining 30-some players and coaches. Ohio Wesleyan staff began throwing together a Hail Mary plan that leaves groups of 5 to 10 players on several different flights that end up in Italy with numerous connections.
"From here, to JFK,” says Badenhop. “Some will be going to Boston, then most of them will be going to London. Some will then be going to Frankfurt, Germany.” Chris says he will be traveling from London to Amsterdam, where he’ll suffer through a 9 to 10-hour layover. Then it’s on to Milan.
There was some hope on Wednesday as players and coaches loaded up luggage once again, with fingers crossed, that their second run at a flight will have less turbulence
For Chris Badenhop, that means travel time of no less than 30 hours. "It may not be as smooth as we wanted it to go, but it's better than nothing,” he says.
If all of those connector flights go well, the team should be reunited by late Thursday night or Friday morning. They'll miss some games, but say they'll at least be able to play the most important match up scheduled for Friday afternoon.