March 21, 2019
Many college teams are in the full swing of their spring trips, as they face teams from across the country before heading home to begin their conference schedules. While these trips provide plenty of opportunities for on-field development, it’s also the off-field experiences with the team that make them so memorable. Whether it’s learning from the pros or sightseeing with the team, our Headfirst Honor Roll team recalls their favorite spring trip experiences that helped strengthen their team culture and that they carried with them after graduation:
Al Morris, Duke University – We had a lot of great trips when I was in college, and our coach always had a way of making them exciting in a different way. When our team went to San Francisco to play Cal Berkley, our coaches organized a trip to see Alcatraz and AT&T Park (now Oracle Park). This always stuck with me because it was a great opportunity to enjoy a new spot with my best friends and come together.
Austin Sumners, Dickinson College – Off the field, my favorite part of our road trips was the unstructured team time at the hotel. It was great getting a chance to step away from the field and getting to know the guys I’m with everyday. Team bonding is huge and creates more chemistry and trust both on and off the field.
Cory Spera, Lafayette College – Joe Maddon is a Lafayette alum and was still the manager in Tampa Bay during my freshman year. We went down to Florida for our break and spent a day at their spring training complex. I had two very memorable experiences that day: First, I got to watch David Price throw a bullpen from behind the catcher. The combination of speed/length/movement/left-handedness was honestly overwhelming. Second – and more importantly – Joe told me that he really liked my shorts (“Nantucket Red” – can’t go wrong).
Jack Marooney, Kenyon College – Our college coach loved Golden Corral. He would never admit it, but he loved it. We would go to the Corral two or three times, and it was always a highlight – not because the food was good, but because of the hilarity of getting our coach in his favorite environment. Apart from that, we’d always bus down from Ohio to Florida, which made for some extremely long trips and fun memories. The first movie on the bus ride down is always The Warriors, so all the older guys reciting the memorable lines was always a good time. There were plenty of worthwhile memories on the field as well, but it’s the off-the-field stuff with your teammates that really sticks.
Jenna Orlando, Lafayette College – My senior year, over spring break, we had 6 games scheduled and every single one got cancelled. We got snowed in on campus and our coaches were searching for any alternative to being snowed in in Easton, PA. They quickly decided that we’d drive down to South Carolina and on the way down the hope was to seal the deal on getting at least one game scheduled over the two days we would be there. If we weren’t able to get anything scheduled, we were going to still make trip and find a facility to practice outdoors (considering the significant amount of snow we got in Pennsylvania).
We were able to get a double header scheduled at Charleston on the ride down for the following day. On the last day of our short trip, the assistant coaches had all of us meet down at the beach in the morning. We went for a beach run and played a big game of wiffle ball, which was a ton of fun. A trip that initially felt so unexpected, rushed and disorganized, ended up being one of my favorite memories. Not only did we get to play solid competition in warm weather after a long bus ride and string of bad luck, but we built a better team culture at the most unexpecting time.
Justin Woods, Shenandoah University– Road trips in general were a lot of fun, and it was the simple things that really stood out. Hanging out with your friends in the hotel rooms, playing cards and talking about the games going on the next day. We were all very close as a team during my 4 years, so I was lucky to be around such a fun group.
Max McKenna, Amherst College – Spring trips were always an interesting and magical thing for us in the NESCAC. Because of the NESCAC rules, we only started practice on February 15th of each year, which meant that most years when we went to Florida for our spring trip, it was our first time off a real mound, and our outfielders’ first time seeing a fly ball against a real sky.
To me, what was most special about the spring trip was about the time off the field – but on team-oriented activities. It was the workouts – swimming and beach running workouts for the pitching staff, team weight sessions at a Gold’s near our hotel – and it was team meals. My senior year, we did daily pregame breakfasts at a diner down the street from the hotel. It was far enough away that we took the team bus to the diner – which in itself was pretty ridiculous, to see a bus roll up and 36 college kids get out to file into a diner and sit in booths early enough that the diner hadn’t actually opened up yet.