TALES FROM THE ROAD

Georgetown Hoyas ride new customized MCI to postseason play


The Georgetown University men's basketball team may have lost in its first postseason NCAA Big East conference game in Madison Square Garden, but it was a great ride while it lasted. After all — the fightin' Hoyas were riding an MCI.

The 2008 MCI® J4500, owned and operated by First Priority Trailways and customized to Georgetown's specifications, went into service in October, says Marcia Milton, president and chief executive officer of First Priority, based in District Heights, Maryland.

Built to accommodate tall and broad athletes, and converted by Creative Mobile Interiors, the coach features 15 oversized, electrically-operated swivel captain's chairs that fully recline as well as a top-of-the-line entertainment system with six oversized video monitors, DirecTV, XM radio, and electrical outlets so the athletes can use their own portable devices. There's also a Corian-topped galley in the rear with a sink and a stainless-steel ice chest — a must for hungry, thirsty players post-game.

The outside is just as flashy, with a Georgetown-blue wrap featuring the school's mascot. "It gets a lot of attention," says Milton, whose company has been serving Georgetown for two years and the charter world for ten.

Georgetown had other options. Milton says the late Ray Charles left the school one of his vintage MCI tour buses, but Georgetown decided it was too old to be optimally useful. The school instead asked First Priority to create something to its exact specifications.

"The players really like it," says Milton. "It makes them feel like they're not on a bus." Not that anyone is talking. Milton says her drivers are far too discreet to tell any tales of victors whooping it up in victory or agonizing over defeat.

First Priority has been on a winning streak itself. Now in its tenth year, the company has a fleet of 20 coaches. In 2008, Milton received the 2007 Bus Ride Motorcoach Industry Award for Achievement, Excellence, Commitment and Accomplishment. The Maryland Tourism Council honored the company in 2008, and in 2006, the local Chamber of Commerce named Marcia Milton Entrepreneur of the Year.

"It's all about making customer service our focus," says Milton, who is considering adding a second coach with similar specifications to the Georgetown team bus.

Until the loss to St. John's, Georgetown was poised to go far. Still, the MCI coach has plenty of opportunity to go all the way. The school uses it for its other teams as well. Baseball season and track-and-field seasons are coming, and the lacrosse team is looking particularly good, says Milton.

And the Hoyas men's basketball team? As of March 15, they were still riding high — figuratively and literally. To arrive at their March 17 appearance in the National Invitational Tournament in Waco, Texas, which is farther than the MCI coach typically travels, they took the plane.

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