The wheels on the bus: the ins and outs of travel and accommodations for athletes

by Saba Nejad | 2/12/18 2:25am

by Saba Nejad / The Dartmouth

While travel is a major component of every Dartmouth team’s season, the time spent on the road and the accommodations athletes receive differs among teams.

Away Games

Aside from the Maribel Sanchez Souther Invitational that Dartmouth hosted, men’s and women’s cross country travel for the remaining regular season meets in 2017. Due to the fact that the men race 8-kilometer or 10-kilometer courses and the women run 5-kilometer or 6-kilometer courses, runners need time between meets to recover.

Depending on how far the meet is from Hanover, the cross-country teams leave campus the day of, the day before or multiple days in advance. Most of the 2017 meets were held on the East Coast, but both teams traveled to Kentucky for NCAA meets. This required a longer time for travel.

“It’s not always ideal to spend the entire day traveling to get somewhere far away and then if it’s really far away, we might budget two days for travel and either go half-way the first day and half-way the second day or all the way the first day and be a little bit rested and have like a day to recover before our competition the third day,” Ben Szuhaj ’19 said.

When the team travels early to away games, the Big Green spends the extra night or nights in hotels, according to Szuhaj. Sometimes, the night before a race, the team has dinner with alumni and coaches, sponsored by the school.

For swimming and diving, the frequency, length and amount of traveling depends on the season. This season, the Big Green traveled five times compared to the four times it traveled in the 2016-17 season.

“For the dual meets for the most part we go down either the day before or on that day,” Jack Cardwell ’18 said.

Some of the mid-season meets are spread out over three days because of the multitude of various swimming and diving events. Therefore, the team leaves a day before the meet starts and come back the day the meet ends. Arriving on site early before the meet helps the team transition smoothly into the meet.

“[We leave early to] see the pool, adjust and get settled in before the meet itself starts,” Cardwell said.

The team stays in hotels while away. Swimmers usually share hotel rooms when traveling away, though living arrangements depend on the meet and the number of swimmers traveling. Rooms are often shared between three or four teammates, Cardwell said.

“This last weekend, I was lucky and only had to share [my room] with one other guy, and that made it super nice,” Cardwell said. “Usually when we travel, we’re accommodated pretty nicely.”

Women’s squash has a more dynamic travel schedule that depends on whether it is the team’s turn to host each of their opponents.

“We switch off which schools we go to and which ones come to us,” co-captain Zainab Molani ’18 said. “This year is our travel-heavy year and over half of our matches are away. The furthest the team [traveled this season was to play George Washington University in Annapolis, Maryland] which is about nine hours driving,” Molani said. “If we play somewhere far away, we usually go the night before and then stay somewhere and play the next morning.”

For women’s rugby, the amount of travel required each season depends on the team’s past and current success.

“During our fall season, we probably travel maybe three or four times,” Milla Anderson ’19 said. “It really depends on how far we make it into our championship season. So, we traveled four times this last season.”

The away games were either during preseason, before classes started or toward the end of our season right before finals. Anderson noted playing ahead of finals period can add pressure, but the coaches help appease the stress.

“Our coaches have to proctor a lot of our exams,” Anderson said. “Sometimes we have to reschedule midterms.”

When the Big Green competed in the Collegiate Rugby Championship 7’s last season, the team’s matches coincided with finals.

“One of our coaches [reached] out to all our professors who gave her our finals schedule and she [helped] to proctor a lot of our exams at the hotels we stayed in during out championship game,” Anderson said.

Women’s rugby stays in smaller hotels to accommodate its team size.

“Normally [we stay in] a lot smaller hotels [because] we travel as a pretty big team,” Anderson said. “We carry a roster of 23, but when we compete sometimes we’ll take up to 30 people. So, we’ll be in smaller hotels and it’ll usually be like four to a room.”

The program provides players with food during away games, most of which are provided to players as a team, either at a restaurant or the hotel or from a grocery store.

Women’s basketball has three weekends where its players are away from campus from Thursday night to Sunday.

“We usually take off Thursday night, so we stay in a hotel Thursday night, Friday night and Saturday night,” co-captain Andi Norman ’18 said.

There are usually two teammates to a room, and the roommates are chosen randomly when the team gets to the hotel.

“You never know who you’re gonna be with until we’re in the hotel lobby about to head up,” Norman said.

The meals are taken care of by the program when they are away from campus for a game.

For Thursday nights before a game, the Big Green often has team dinners at a restaurant. On game day, the team eats at the hotel for their pre-game meals, often breakfast and lunch. They usually order food for the post-game meal, which will be waiting for the team on the bus for the journey back to Hanover.

Because of the nature of college basketball, men’s basketball travels many times throughout the season.

“We play 27 games in a season, and half or more of them are on the road,” Ian Sistare ’20 said.

This season the men play 15 away games, including seven against Ivy League opponents.

“We always go down the day before the game and spend the night in a hotel somewhere close to the venue where we are playing,” Sistare said.

The team leaves campus on game day when it plays the University of New Hampshire and Harvard University.

“We have some long bus rides, like Cornell [University], Columbia [University], [the University of Pennsylvania] and Princeton [University],” Sistare said.

They stay in hotels while on the road and have food covered by the College when away for a game.

Training Tips

Women’s squash goes on a domestic trip every year, which replaced an international trip it used to take every three years. During the domestic trip, it receives money for food, according to Molani.

“Depending on the funding for the trip, we get some money for food but usually not enough to fully cover all three meals,” Molani said. “The coaches pay for a few team dinners.”

The trip focuses more on team bonding whereas the team’s time on-campus over winter break is used to train in preparation for the regular season.

The swimming and diving teams stayed on campus over winter break to prepare for its regular season. In previous seasons, the team has gone on a training trip.

Athletes in the Class of 2018 traveled to Hawaii their freshman year, Puerto Rico their sophomore year and Hawaii again their junior year.

“We usually have one meet then come back for a training trip which is about a two week span towards the end of November into December,” Cardwell said. “It’s where we get our heaviest yardage in [and] build up our endurance before the main championship season.”

This year, because the team stayed on campus, most of the athletes’ meals were covered.

“We were given kind of a per diem from the athletic department when we got on campus,” Cardwell said.

The team also had access to the Class of 1953 Commons, which was covered by athletic department.

“There were only a few meals I had to pay for out of pocket for the [on-campus] training trip,” Cardwell said.

When the team stayed in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, coaches were in charge of handling the meals for the swimmers and divers.

While in Hawaii, his freshman year, Cardwell noted the team stayed in one of the visiting student residences at the University of Hawaii.

In Puerto Rico and the second Hawaii trip, the athletes stayed hotels. This year, there was no training trip which meant that the athletes stayed in dorms.

“It was kind of nice to have our own space,” Cardwell said.

The cross country team goes to the Second College Grant in Coos County, New Hampshire at the end of August. The trip usually lasts four or five days.

“That’s actually surprisingly low cost because the cabins are $50 to rent, and the food is all stuff that our coaches buy from Costco in bulk,” Szuhaj said. “So, very low-cost, low tech.”

Women’s basketball does not have a training trip, but similar to all other winter sports, players stay over on campus over winter break.

“We’re actually here the whole interim because we play games,” Norman said. “We start games in November and we’re playing games all the way through March.”

Similarly, men’s basketball does not have a training trip according to Sistare.

Women’s rugby had their last training trip to California two years ago.

“We flew out with the majority of the team and went from San Diego up to San Francisco where we played three games,” Anderson said.

During the training trip, the players received a stipend of $10 for lunch and $10 for dinner, Anderson said.

Last year, however, rugby decided not to go on a training trip. Instead, the team went on a weekend retreat to the Class of ’66 cabin before classes started.

Sabena Allen contributed reporting.

Szuhaj is member of The Dartmouth staff.