With their pillows, backpacks and iPods in hand, the women on the BYU softball team settle into their seats on the team bus. They each pull out their favorite movies to share, and then stash some food for the long road trip to their next destination. Apart from playing the game they love, they say, traveling together and creating new experiences with each other are the best parts about being a college athlete.
For most college teams, team bonding and chemistry are vital to the success of the team. And with all of the time spent traveling, the bus is the best place to bond.
The BYU softball team will spend roughly 125 hours traveling over the course of the season.
Senior outfielder Tiffany Messerschmidt said the time spent during travel provides the best opportunity to get to know her teammates even better.
“Once we start traveling, it’s a great opportunity to learn more about a person that [I] wouldn’t normally go up to and have a casual conversation with,” Messerschmidt said. “That’s definitely where I’ve grown closer to every girl on the team.”
Sophomore infielder Katie Manuma said her favorite part of traveling with the team is when everyone is passing around the junk food and just laughing about the goofiest things with each other.
“We love eating on the bus,” Manuma said. “Once we get on the bus, everyone’s attacking the food and sharing laughs. We watch movies, do some study hall and then laugh [some more].”
Another fun experience for the team is getting to know a new hotel roommate every time they travel. Junior outfielder Alexandra Hudson said she enjoys being able to get to know each one of her new roommates.
“Each time we get a new roommate and get [the chance] to know that person a little bit better is always fun for me,” Hudson said. “Even though we sometimes shouldn’t stay up late talking, I like just being able to get to know them.”
Many of the players said some of their favorite memories of softball have come from traveling together.
Hudson remembers a distinct experience from last year in the airplane coming back from Hawaii.
“We took off to come home and then all the lights went out in the plane and they had the flight attendants running back and forth from the front to the back of the plane,” Hudson said. “Apparently, the engine had stopped and they were preparing for a crash landing, whether it was on water or on land. Some of us were crying, some people were asleep, and I was laughing. I don’t know why [I was laughing], but it was really early in the morning.”
Manuma also said she remembered a funny experience from the airport.
“Last year, we learned this Beyoncé dance, ‘Move your body,’ ” Manuma said. “Half the team learned it and we ended up performing it in the airport in Washington. We just started dancing for everyone, and [they all] started staring at us and smiling.”
Manuma said the team has kept the tradition going and continues to learn dances in each others’ apartments in their off time.
“We just learn new dances to keep the team chemistry going,” Manuma said. “It’s a good team bonding [activity] that we always do.”
Freshman catcher Megan Arnold said bonding as a college team means much more to her now than it did for her teams in high school.
“I feel like we’re more of a team,” Arnold said. “We’re grown up and [we’re] getting to know our teammates, not only on the field, but off the field as well.”
For these women on the softball team, just getting the chance to spend time with some of their best friends is a great opportunity. Messerschmidt said she will always remember the closeness she felt with her teammates, even when they weren’t having the best of experiences.
“Last year, we had a bus ride that went from San Diego to Vegas [and] back home,” Messerschmidt said. “It was a week long, huge bus trip and I just remember thinking that everyone was going to be on everyone’s nerves. But it turned out to be this really fun trip, where we were just stuck with each other forever and everyone was sleeping this way and that way on the bus. It was kind of miserable but we were all miserable together and we grew in that way.”