Archive for Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Athletes enjoy travel, competition

May 23, 2007


For youth athletes who spend their weekends as road warriors traveling with their teams there is at least one rule of the road that must be followed.

Caution. Beware of sleeping in a vehicle full of teammates who are wide awake. Wherever there's a sleeping teammate, inevitably there is another teammate ready to prank his or her napping associate.

"They'll wake up and freak out, so it's fun to do that," said Carly Davis, 12, of the KSA Enforcers.

She said when she's in prank mode she and a teammate will find a pillow or blanket and tickle the napper's nose.

"The person will wake up and hit their face and the two people who were doing it will fall back and pretend like they were asleep," Davis said.

Pranks are probably the only caution sign for athletes who spend their weekends in the fast lane. It is smooth terrain and fun and games after that.

"It's pretty fun," said Cooper Karlin, 10, who travels regularly with his Rebels baseball team. "We get to see a lot of places that we've never been to and we get to play teams that, sometimes, are better than us." Quality competition is a main attraction for most young athletes.

"We get better competition on the road," Karlin explained. "Playing better teams helps us get better."

Of course, staying overnight somewhere can be a perk as well.

"We stay in hotels and we go swimming, we go out to eat together," Karlin said. "We go to a lot of places besides the baseball games."

Andrew Keating, 10, plays with Karlin on the Rebels, but he has also traveled with basketball and football teams. Keating said most players enjoy the travel, but admitted that it's not for everyone.

"Some people have different opinions," Keating said of some sporting passengers.

"I think it's difficult, but fun once you get the hang of it," Keating said. He said logging highway miles every weekend is just a sacrifice that goes along with playing youth sports.

"I consider it a sacrifice because we have to get out of school sometimes," Karlin said of some extra-long weekend treks.

"That's a sacrifice you have to be willing to make when you play on a higher level team," Davis added.

For her, the hardest part is waking up early on a Saturday morning.

"You have to be able to get up early in the morning, get dressed and get all of your stuff ready to go," she said. "I like playing soccer and sometimes I don't like getting up early in the morning, but if it's a team I really want to play, it doesn't really matter."

Despite the wear and tear of constant travel, these young athletes have no horror stories of road rage. Keating could not remember a single bad experience.

"We've turned off the road too early," Karlin said, "but then we got back on."

However, Davis recalled one instance where a teammate was putting on shin guards and gear during a drive to a game and realized she only had one soccer cleat in her bag. Detour. They had to go to the mall and buy a new pair before the game.

In between pranks and detours, most well-traveled athletes find ways to kill time and fight off boredom.

"We listen to music a little bit and we relax," Keating said.

Technology is the quickest fix.

"I play my PSP and I watch DVDs," Karlin said. "We don't do anything else really, but we talk."

Davis said she and her teammates usually talk, read a book, or play a video game.

"It depends on who you're riding with," she said.

Whomever they are riding with and wherever they are going, Davis, Karlin and Keating said they would choose traveling over playing at home any day. Who needs a home game when you're a road warrior?


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