SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Coaches and players from the University of North Carolina Tar Heels and Michigan State University Spartans toured the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Nov. 9.
The teams arrived in preparation for the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic, a basketball game scheduled on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. The Classic will be the first division one college basketball game played on the flight deck of a U.S. aircraft carrier.
For many of those on the tour, it was their first time seeing an aircraft carrier firsthand.
"I've actually never seen one before," Senior North Carolina Center Tyler Zellar said. "I'm from Indiana, so we don't see a whole lot of them there. It's amazing how big they are and how small they make our court look."
Tour highlights included the navigation bridge, the mess decks, a berthing compartment, the hanger bay, the team locker rooms and the outdoor stadium.
"[This is the] first time I've seen a carrier, first time I've been on one, and it's just unbelievable. I mean, this is my senior year and I'm taking all this in," Senior Michigan State Center Anthony Ianni said. "I just can't get over it right now."
As well as the physical size of the ship, the magnitude of the Classic's undertaking left Ianni a little overwhelmed.
"My first thought was, 'How are we going to play outside, you know? How are we gonna do this?' And, just seeing how they built the arena and the court, it's like 'Wow', you know, everybody here did a heck of a job putting it all together," Ianni said. "I'm just so thankful and so blessed to be here, and it's going to be a great night on Friday. I'm really looking forward to it."
The idea for the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic was proposed by Michigan State University's Athletic Director Mark Hollis, during a trip he and Spartans Head Coach Tom Izzo took in support of deployed service members.
"I had a couple chances to spend time in Kuwait with the troops over there in a thing called 'Hoops with the Troops.' That's kind of where [Hollis] got all this going and, I tell you what, this is way better than I thought it was going to be," Izzo said. "I can't even tell you how much we appreciate this."
The Quicken Loans Carrier Classic, organized by the Morale Entertainment Foundation and to be broadcast on the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN), marks the 2011-2012 season opener for both the Tar Heels and Spartans.
For more news from USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn70/.