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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Road Trip

A sports road trip is usually graded by wins and losses by members of the media. If a team plays well through a tough schedule playing in hostile arenas or fields, that team is glorified in the newspaper, while mounting losses can make a return trip home difficult for a team looking to salvage a season. But as an athlete with an inside, extended look, I can tell you that there is much more to a road trip than the final score.

Our baseball squad trekked out to Arizona for 10 days to participate in the Russmatt Invitational, a baseball tournament featuring teams from all over the nation. It was a nice way to escape the bitter cold of Boston, as the temperatures hovered around 80 degrees all week. However, this trip was a big deal to many of the players, as most hadn’t even been as far as Phoenix in their lives, much less to play baseball.

Getting to Arizona was the easy part. All dressed in UMass baseball sweat suits, we boarded a flight to Phoenix by way of Atlanta. It was a full day of travel that began with childish pranks at Logan Airport and ended with weary faces impatiently awaiting the arrival of our rental vans.

Throughout the week, the team bonded throughout team meetings and team dinners, one of which was generously sponsored by Chancellor Motley and Vice Chancellor Titus, who was able to make it out to Arizona to see a few games. The Beacons enjoyed not only the Chancellor’s Dinner, as it has been named, but also the support of the athletic department on our trip, as we were accompanied by trainer Shannon Soares and sports information director Alan Wickstrom.

We stayed at the convenient Grace Inn of Phoenix. The place was decorated appropriately for the desert, with a pueblo-themed exterior and a cactus-dominated interior. To be honest, the wireless internet was shaky, and we needed a “special” key just to get the elevator up to six floors. But a free daily breakfast was included, and, after all, we weren’t here to surf the web or ride elevators. In the words of Coach Eygabroat, it was a business trip, and we were here to play baseball.

The Beacons enjoyed some of the finest baseball complexes in the state of Arizona, including Gene Autry Park (former spring training home of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) and Tempe High School. Despite the nice fields and warm weather, we got off to a slow start in our first 10 games, winning two and losing eight. However, every healthy player on the team saw game action, showing the coaches what each player could offer the team during conference play.

In the end, people can judge us by the slow start we had on the field. But the time we spent off the field connecting just by spending ten days together will help us in the long run. Our team is building its character not just by one pitch at a time, but in this case, one trip at a time.