By: Elizabeth Hollander ’17
We’ve had three away trips so far this season, and have had a great time on every one of them! From bus rides to rooming with teammates to playing great teams, we always enjoy our time together as a team. I’ll take you through the process of an away trip and the ins and outs of being a Generals volleyball player on the road.
The first-years have duties to finish before we depart for each tournament. We get the cooler, food bin, foam rollers, stretch bands, the stat bag, the tripod, and more. Between the six of us the duties go by pretty quickly, and the team is patient with us loading and unloading the bus because everyone was once a first-year who had to do the same tasks, so they understand. Even though first-year duties aren’t the highlight of the away-trip process, they aren’t too bad and they get us working together even before we get out on the court.
The bus ride always is a highlight of playing away. Whether you need to get ahead on your homework for the weekend, study for a test you have next week, catch up on your favorite Netflix show, or just catch up on sleep, you can always get something productive done of the bus. This past weekend, we took a trip to Marietta College in Ohio and we got to take a sleeper bus… that was awesome! Since it was rainy and dark out on our way back to Virginia, having room to stretch out and sleep comfortably on the bus was prime. The bus also acts as a nice place to catch up with teammates on things other than volleyball. While we spend some of the trip mentally preparing for the game and focusing on our team goals for the matches ahead, we also get to spend a lot of the trip bonding as a team. The hardest part is trying to focus on homework when you’re surrounded by so many of your friends, but I guess that’s a pretty good problem to have.
When we first arrive at the other team’s athletic facility we go through the same motions we would at a home tournament: change, heat and tape, and warm-up… although we don’t get lost looking for the locker room and trainer in our own Warner Center. We try to make the experience as smooth and familiar as possible. Heating, taping, and observing the court and gym are some of the steps to get us ready. We orient ourselves with the court to familiarize ourselves and make our transition to a foreign gym more seamless. Even though we are used to the low-beamed ceilings of our own gym, we want to be aware of what these other facilities have in store for us. Game time comes quickly and we make the best of being the away team with few fans (although we do have some dedicated parents who make it to almost every game!). Students from other schools cheer loudly in the stands chanting school pride songs, but none rival our cheer, “The Swing.” One of the hardest things to learn is how to ignore the other fans, but we embrace the challenge and keep our calm demeanor throughout the game, which ultimately prevails against the highs-and-lows of a loud crowd.
When we get to the hotel at our away destination, the most fun part is finding out whom on the team you’re staying with. Our team’s ability to keep relationships strong between girls of all years makes this an easy process to enjoy. Whether you’re staying with a senior or another freshman, or anyone in between, you are assured to have a good time with your teammates! Just like the bus rides, it’s a fun time to get to know each other in a different setting than the gym.
Overall, away trips are a blast. We work hard, laugh hard, recover hard, and ultimately do our best to represent W&L well both on and off the court!