By Leigh Dethman
I”ve always wondered just what athletes do when they go on a road trip. I thought it was just a big vacation, where all you have to do is work a few hours every now and then playing the game you love.
Boy, was I wrong.
I”ve always wanted to see what life on the road was all about. So I packed my bags, put on the old BYU sweats and went on a road trip to St. George with the BYU softball team.
MILLER PARK, PROVO, 8:59 a.m.
After a quick meeting going over the do”s and don”ts of the trip and a prayer to keep us safe, we boarded the bus for St. George. The road trip was the first of many for the Cougar softball team this season.
I woke up too early to actually eat any breakfast, but luckily the team is always well fed. Sitting right in the front seat of the bus was a smorgasbord of breakfast items. There were about four-dozen bagels and tubs on cream cheese, fruit, trail mix and a few commemorative tins of Mrs. Fields” cookies. Needless to say, I didn”t go hungry for long.
SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE OF UTAH, 11:03 a.m.
The bus ride was pretty quiet. Everyone seemed to be doing homework. I was pretty bored, but luckily, Arron Layns brought her laptop. I stole it and watched a ripped version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. A few other girls on the team got the same idea. Brooke Cadiente was up front watching Spiderman and three other players were watching Blue Crush. It made me think of how boring bus trips would be without portable DVD players.
After a short stop for fast food in Cedar City, it was back to the bus for another two hours of boredom. A few of the girls passed the time by making prank phone calls. I hear it is a team tradition.
DESTINATION: ST. GEORGE UTAH, DIXIE STATE COLLEGE 2:11 p.m.
As the bus approached the Dixie State field, R. Kelly”s “The World”s Greatest” boomed on the bus while players danced to the beat. I hear that the sophomore class has a deep connection to the song. They did a mean, choreographed dance to R. Kelly”s hot vocals.
Coach Eakin planned a “warm-up” game against Dixie to get the team ready for the Thunderbird Classic. Although the team was focused, they are always singing and whipping out random movie quotes.
We just beat Dixie, it”s 7:00 p.m. and I haven”t had any food since a roast beef sandwich back in Cedar City. Needless to say, I was starving. But – luckily – people really do cater to Cougar athletes. The restaurant we went to roped off a whole room just for BYU and its entourage. We downed our food pretty fast, as most of us were anxious to get back to the hotel.
HOTEL, 9:02 p.m.
FREE! Well, free for a little while. Coach gave us about 15 minutes to get settled after dinner before a mandatory, team-only meeting. Debbie Dodds and Belinda Osborn wasted no time in finding some entertainment. Debbie knows a handful of yo-yo tricks, and taught them to a few girls on the team.
At 9:15 I was banished to my hotel room while the team had a top-secret meeting. I guess they didn”t want a reporter to know their game plan.
Don”t trust those hotel room alarm clocks. The clock in my room didn”t go off, but luckily, I set my cell phone to buzz in time to catch the complimentary continental breakfast at the hotel.
SOFTBALL FIELDS, 11:23 a.m.
There is a crowd of little boys from the local elementary school ditching recess just so they could catch one of Oli Keohohu”s long balls. The rambunctious boys teased, “Hey hot chicks, hey hot chicks, you make my mouth water.” I guess flirting starts pretty early now.
COUGARS VS. OSU BEAVERS, 1:02 p.m.
The game started out with a bang, but the shot was in OSU”s favor. The No. 23 Beavers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning following Vanessa Iapala”s home run.
Freshman Ianetta Lei gave the “Hawaiian Punch,” hitting her first career home run to cut the Beaver lead to three runs. The Cougars dominated most of the game, but that first inning really killed them. Final score: Beavers win it 5-3.
COUGARS VS. SOUTHERN UTAH T-BIRDS, 2:59 p.m.
There wasn”t much down time after the loss to the Beavers. Luckily the trainers picked up sandwiches, which the team only had 10 minutes to digest before the first pitch against SUU.
BYU started out sluggish, falling behind 7-2. Debbie Dodds” first-career home run started a fiery BYU run to eventually tie the score. Deadlocked at 7-7, the game went into an international tiebreaker. The Cougars wasted no time putting the T-bird away, scoring five runs to seal the game.
PIZZA FACTORY 7:47 p.m.
I don”t know about you, but a little wedge of a sub sandwich does not keep me going throughout the day, let alone someone playing back-to-back softball games. I, for one, was anxious to get some good, greasy food into my stomach.
Eakin let the girls have some free time with their families after dinner. A good amount of parents travel with the team.
The minute we got to the hotel, I was ready for bed. After another “team-only” meeting, my roomies came back and we all crashed. It will be an early morning tomorrow, and another full day at the fields.
During the SUU game, Katie Barnes said just what I was thinking as I tried to sleep that night, “Isn”t it annoying when you”re trying to go to sleep and somebody keeps talking?” I know the feeling. “Sometimes you just have to deal with it,” Barnes advised.
HOTEL, 6:30 a.m.
I don”t wake up this early on school days, let alone on my “vacation.” It was another day of the wonderful hotel continental breakfast. Coach Eakin said we all had to be on the bus by 7:45 a.m so the team could have ample time to warm up.
COUGARS VS. CAL POLY, 10 a.m
I”ve never seen so much whining in my whole life. The Cal Poly coach protested each and every call the umpire made. A few innings after Oli knocked a homer over the outfield fence, the coach cried to the umpire that Oli used an illegal bat. I”m sorry, it”s not the metal, it”s the guns. I guess whining works, Cal Poly came back in the bottom of the seventh to beat BYU 7-6.
COUGARS VS. ST MARY”S, 1:23 p.m.
After dropping another morning game, BYU creamed St. Mary”s, 9-0. It seemed the team was anxious to get home, they creamed the Gaels with a mixture of big hits and solid pitching in only five innings.
Niki Anderson allowed only three hits in the shutout win. Debbie Dodds led the offensive effort, going 2-3 with a double, RBI and two runs scored.
CHARTERED BUS, 4:17
It was a quiet ride home. Lauren Watson and Katie Barnes left as fast as they could to get back to Salt Lake in time for the Toby Keith concert. Some of the other players went home with their parents.
I tried really hard to sleep, but the seats don”t recline too far and there is definitely not enough padding. Ariel Capra put in “For the Love of the Game,” a cheesy Kevin Costner Baseball movie. It really “cleared the mechanism” and put me straight to sleep.
NEWSROOM, BYU CAMPUS, 1:23 p.m.
I learned a lot on my outing with the BYU softball team. I learned that you can”t go more than two minutes without someone in the dugout singing songs like “You Fill Up My Senses,” “Ready to Run,” or M.C. Hammer”s line “We Got to Pray.”
I learned that the team can flat out hit the ball. On the way down to St. George, I complained that the team didn”t hit enough home runs during the fall season. I was wrong – they can hit the long ball. BYU hit six home runs in four games. The Cougars produced 30 runs in only four games.
But most of all, I learned that road trips aren”t all they are cracked up to be. Softball becomes a full-time job, and the only breaks are for lunch and dinner. Softball on the road isn”t a typical 9-5 job. Sleep is the only freedom you get.