On the road again

SPU teams pack their bags for out-of-state play

Troy Vigil , Staff Writer

The Seattle Pacific University women’s soccer team poses for a group photo at one of their away games in California. (Courtesy of Makena Rietz)

With last year’s COVID restrictions, many collegiate teams were faced with travel restrictions, and their seasons were cut short or canceled. Fast-forward to the 2021 fall season, many teams are beginning to hit the road again to face their competitors.

Many student athletes and coaches rejoice as travel restrictions become less of an impact on where they play their games. Traveling allows the teams to create a bond by participating in team travel traditions and activities.

Head volleyball coach, Abbie Wright, is one of the coaches who is excited to be traveling again. 

“I really have missed it and feel grateful that we are able to compete more normally this year. I really feel that pushing cautiously to get back to normal is necessary just because sports are such a unifying thing for people,” Wright said. “I know our girls are excited about it, and I know students who have already come to games are thrilled to be back in person with their friends cheering on our sports teams.”

Although teams are allowed to travel, restrictions do not allow the entire team to go.

“It’s always hard to not travel with everyone, so that is the downside of being on the road. We really are at our best when we can train and be with everyone on our team, so it’s always nice in practice when we have our full crew together,” Coach Wright said. 

This last week, the volleyball team traveled to Alaska to play against Alaska Fairbanks and Alaska Anchorage. Wright said that this is her favorite trip on the calendar because of the change of scenery and visiting the North Pole as a team tradition. 

Currently, men’s soccer is in Hawaii for a three-game road trip. Last week, SPU played two of those games, winning them both, (3-2 against Hawaii Hilo and 4-0 against Chaminade University). 

Senior midfielder Jordan Greenshield shared his excitement about being able to travel with his team. 

A rainbow reflects over the soccer field as the men’s soccer team plays against Chaminade University of Honolulu in Honolulu, Hawai’i. (Courtesy of Jordan Greenshield)

“Traveling again is amazing! We were all pretty disappointed about COVID ruining our trip to Hawaii a few years ago, so we are all really pumped to finally make it here. Even the California trip was a good time, so getting out of the state and competing against some good teams is always fun,” Greenshield said.

Hawaii has been one of Greenshield’s favorite trips during his time at SPU for many reasons. 

“On our away trips like Hawaii, our coaches do a good job of finding time to let us explore the area and hang out. So far, we have hung out on the beach, gone surfing, walked around the strip in Waikiki, and have eaten some pretty good Hawaiian food,” Greenshield said. “For me, my favorite thing has just been relaxing on the beach with my teammates. However, although trips are a lot of fun, we are here to compete so there is a lot of time spent resting and staying mentally and physically fit for games. 

While new and returning student athletes are glad they can play in and travel to different states, they also acknowledge how missing class is inflicting stress. Classes resuming on campus have provided a great amount of discomfort for traveling athletes.

“A 10-week quarter flies by quickly, missing even one day can be tough to catch up. We are missing a whole week on this trip so that makes trips fun, but also a little stressful for us,” Greenshield said.

The women’s soccer team has spent the last three weeks in California, and senior Makena Rietz has also noticed that the time away is not always positive. It can cause tension in different aspects of one’s life. 

Traveling can be really taxing on your body and the preparation for the trip itself, along with the preparation once you get there can be sensitive. Components such as hydrating, making sure we’re taking care of school work, mental health and physical health, and getting everything we need in order to perform the best we can is a lot to juggle,” Rietz said. 

Despite the negative aspects, Reitz feels that the majority of the experience is exciting. It creates a perfect time for bonding and strengthens connections between teammates. 

“I think the best part of traveling for games is the memories we make as a team altogether. It’s really fun to travel with your best friends and do what you love,” Rietz said. “While we take our trips really seriously in terms of how we prepare and go about the game aspect, we have a lot of laughs throughout the trip and they are always memorable. We actually started a tradition of a game night, the night before our actual games just to bond and spend time with each other.”