The Way of the Road

What do you get when you squeeze a lacrosse team on a bus for several hours?

Depending on the team’s age and the coach’s rules of the road, you might get a sleepy bus watching The Dark Knight Rises for the third time or a circus on wheels.

Putting forty something 18 to 22 year olds on a bus with only a handful of coaches, a trainer, and the bus driver to control them almost sounds like a social experiment.

The innocent Freshmen sit at the front of the bus near the coaches unsure of where to sit and worrying if they brought everything. Sophomores and Juniors do homework, tell stories, or sleep against the window with a pillow just trying to make the hours pass by. The Seniors in the back of the bus inhabit an area where there are seemingly no rules out of the sight of their coaches. The cards and sunflower seeds come out and no one on the team is safe from a ruthless prank or joke.

The Freshmen stretching their necks looking back to try and catch a glimpse of the card game going on or hoping to hear the punchline to the joke that sends the back into a frenzy. Any Freshman brave enough to venture toward the bathroom will approach with a nervous smile hoping they will be accepted by their upperclassmen. Even the coaches try to avoid having to make their way back to go to the bathroom.

Trading stories of high school lacrosse glory and arguing over professional sports dynasties. Messing with a sleeping teammate or throwing goldfish at your friend a few seats in front of you. On one trip my teammates managed to set up a hammock in the middle of the bus and our tallest player somehow squeezed all the way into an overhead storage compartment. Sometimes everyone seems to get cabin fever as the hours go by.

When every player’s career comes to an end, they will miss the practices, gamedays, and being with the team every day, but many will take for granted how much they will miss the road trips where they really became close with their teammates as they sat cramped on buses driving across the country.

Sitting in silence for hours after a heartbreaking loss.

Blasting music and going crazy after an upset win as the bus ride home seems to last forever.

You hope it never ends.

The memories I cherish the most from years of road trips are the hushed conversations with a teammate at 2 am while everyone else is asleep, playing cards for hours and never getting bored, and the collective happiness of the team watching a funny movie after a win.

I will never forget the moment before every away game when the bus would pull up to the field and you just knew that everyone was ready to do anything to get back on the bus in a few hours as winners. You felt unstoppable.

As the college season gets underway hundreds of teams will go on bus trips with each one having their own traditions and rules of the road. These teams may come back as winners or losers, but every team learns to come together on these long and special trips.

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