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University IT Goes the Extra Mile(s) to Support Stanford Football

The Communication Services Installation & Maintenance team traveled to Australia to provide coach communications for Stanford
Monday, September 18, 2017

University IT (UIT) constantly strives to go the extra mile for our clients. In this case, we went 7,419 miles to be exact, when traveling to Sydney, Australia to support the Cardinal football team in their season opener against Rice University.

Throughout the nine-day trip, and in the months leading up to it, Communication Services Installation & Maintenance (I&M) team worked hard to ensure that Allianz Stadium in Sydney was properly equipped for coach communications during the August 26 matchup.

Months of preparation required

The trip to Sydney brought about many firsts for the seasoned I&M team, which required months of planning and preparation.

Starting in February, the team had weekly meetings with staff from TEG Live (the group responsible for IT communications at Allianz Stadium), as well as with Rice’s IT team in Houston, to coordinate equipment setup and other logistics.

Why so much coordination? For one, Allianz Stadium is built for rugby, meaning it’s not equipped for the degree of communications typical in American football stadiums. Engineers in Australia had to install new wiring in the stadium, running down both sides of the field and up to the press boxes.

Furthermore, many systems and radio frequencies used in the U.S. are not compatible with those used down under, which posed yet another challenge for the team.

“Half the radios and systems we use here are reserved for proprietary carriers only in Australia. The other half use a UHF band that won’t even work down there. So, we had to procure a lot of new equipment,” said Rocco Petrunti, I&M manager.

Rocco Petrunti and Dan Fraher of I&M, and Damian Pratt of TEG Live, together in Allianz Stadium, Sydney, Australia.

As you can see, not all the action was on the field. Fortunately, thanks to the close collaboration between the various stakeholders, they were able to overcome these challenges and make all the necessary preparations well in advance of the game.

“The game presented some huge logistical and IT challenges. I'm delighted to say that the TEG Live and the Stanford teams worked brilliantly together to find solutions in a prompt and efficient manner,” commented Murray Hodges, TEG Live head of sport in Australia.

I&M team members Giovanni Moraga, Dan Fraher, and Rocco Petrunti in Allianz Stadium.

International travel presents unique challenges

Acquiring the proper equipment was just one part of the equation in preparing for this trip. Another part was the process of actually getting it all to Australia.

Unlike normal away games where equipment is loaded onto a truck, traveling internationally requires many special preparations to ensure compliance with airline requirements, security, customs, and more.

The I&M team worked closely with Chris Dountas, equipment manager for Stanford Athletics, who was charged with the task of creating a customs manifest (an inventory of every single piece of equipment going to Australia).

This was no simple inventory. Coach communications equipment alone required five trunks. Added to that was football equipment, uniforms, exercise bikes, and other gear. Even a goal post was brought along on the trip. Every single thing was weighed, measured, and accounted for.

Coach communications equipment in the press box at Allianz Stadium.

Hard work reaps big wins

Needless to say, it was no easy task moving 220 people and an entire college football game across the world. But thanks to the many hours of preparation and careful coordination from the I&M team, Stanford football coaches, staff members, counterparts in Australia, and others, the trip went off without a hitch. Not only was equipment successfully set up in the days leading up to the game, but coach communications worked flawlessly throughout. And, most importantly, the Cardinal brought home a victory that tipped the season off on a high note.

“I am grateful that we have such a reliable IT team traveling with us on the road and making sure we have what we need,” Doyle said. “When it comes to the stresses associated with our travel operation, I know I can always count on the headset guys to do their jobs.”

The appreciation went both ways. The I&M team expressed gratitude for everyone involved, particularly Doyle, Callie Seidman (also of Stanford Football Operations), and Athletic Director Bernard Muir, for their diligent efforts and hard work to keep the trip organized and running smoothly.

Petrunti summarized his overall experience in Australia, saying, “Despite the fact that everything there is upside down, it was a fantastic experience. I am proud to be an ambassador of Stanford and able to promote college football internationally. This was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am so appreciative to have been a part of it.”

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