Next time you start complaining about your long, grueling walk from Hubbard Hall to Brody Hall, just be happy you’re not traveling near as much as the MSU volleyball team.
The Spartans have 16 road games this season, putting them on lengthy bus and plane trips almost every week. The team, however, is in the middle of a four-game road stretch that has them traveling more than 1,700 miles before they play another game at Jenison Field House.
While traveling across the Midwest and playing in hostile atmospheres could seem like a drag, the Spartans use the road trips as an opportunity to grow stronger. The team takes advantage of the long hours on the road to get to know each other and build solid team chemistry.
“I think road trips build team chemistry, because you spend all your time with each other, and I think that makes it more enjoyable to not only play volleyball, but to also spend hours at a time with each other,” sophomore middle blocker Jazmine White said.
For White, however, it is easy for her to say she enjoys road trips, as a few teammates said she is the person that keeps the atmosphere alive on lengthy plane rides.
Whether it is playing games, making people jump out of their skin or giving her team a concert performance, White makes the hours in the air fly by quicker with her attitude.
“I’ll sit in the back of the plan and sing and dance for everyone,” said White, noting that Justin Bieber usually is the artist of choice. “I scare (sophomore outside hitter Taylor Galloway) a lot, because she is really easy to scare, so I’ll hide in their rooms and scare them in the dark.”
White, for the record, knows that Galloway probably doesn’t like her occasional surprise.
Junior outside hitter Lauren Wicinski, who transferred from Northern Illinois this season, also has benefited from going on the road with her teammates.
“Especially for me, coming in new, it’s fun because you’re around everyone all the time,” Wicinski said.
Head coach Cathy George agreed that road trips are vital to building team chemistry, and that the coaching staff helps out with the bonding experience in a number of ways. One of them is having the players switch roommates in the team hotel every game.
“Every time you room with someone different, so someone you wouldn’t really know, you get to know them better,” Wicinski said, adding that it helps greatly getting to know her teammates.
Aside from napping during downtime and listening to White belt songs on the team plane, the Spartans still have to deal with playing in enemy territory.
“You need to prepare yourself mentally because you know you’re going into a hostile environment,” senior outside hitter Amy Dentlinger said. Dentlinger also said that despite the unwelcome presence some crowds may have, her favorite part of road trips still is playing in front of spectators with high energy.
The Spartans end their four-game road trip this weekend, playing Wisconsin at 8 p.m. Friday and then head to Minnesota Saturday.