LUBBOCK, Texas — The preparation for next season has already started for Three Rivers.
It hasn’t involved working on the court or breaking down film, though. It’s been bonding by spending a week together watching the best teams in the NJCAA compete on the court, and going out to do various activities for fun when they’re not watching games. The reaction to the news that they’d get to spend a whole week in Texas was positive throughout the team.
“We’ll have a break and get to do some team bonding,” redshirt freshman Deanay Watson said.
The break is something the team didn’t get to have while everyone else was on their spring break. The Lady Raiders spent their entire break prepping for a trip to Texas to compete in the national tournament. Since their break consisted of mostly practice, the coaches decided they would spend the entire week in Lubbock, Texas, whether they win or lose.
“That was the plan all the way through, stay the whole week whether we win or lose, and we knew there’d be enough stuff here to keep them occupied,” Three Rivers coach Jeff Walk said. “We got to go watch some good, high-quality basketball. It was just to show them that there was a lot more to this than just to come down here and play.
“But the playing is the most important part, so hopefully that’ll get us back here next year.”
Spending a whole week on a crowded bus and traveling over 800 miles with minimal alone time can be taxing on some. Even the players admitted that after a week had passed, they were ready to get back home and resume their normal routine. Still, they found several ways to enjoy themselves.
“A lot of team bonding stuff that we hope will help us become closer together as a group that we hope will carry us over until next year,” Walk said.
Between trips to the mall, laser tag, putt-putt and bowling, there was plenty of time for bonding and entertainment to make up for a lost spring break.
“We still got to compete against each other, but like, in a more fun way,” freshman Katelyn South said.
Sophomore Kim Shaw was the winner at bowling with a high score of 142. Sophomore Hailee Erickson bowled somewhere around a 40 for the lowest total.
For the team’s sophomores, the trip is a bittersweet one. With the season over, this road trip is likely the last they’ll get to have with their teammates. Knowing that, they’re trying to enjoy it with a group they’ve grown so close to throughout the year.
“We’re just getting like one big last trip together with everybody before it all comes to an end,” Erickson said.
While they don’t have the pressure of having to win a game, they could just focus on enjoying the moment with each other.
“There’s no pressure, so you can just have fun and relax,” Shaw said.
That’s the hard part of collegiate sports. Once you graduate or transfer, there’s no telling when you’ll see the people you’ve been surrounded by for the last few years.
The freshmen, meanwhile, got to spend some time having fun with the sophomores before they graduate and move on from this chapter of life.
“I think it just showed us what we’ll miss with them and the fun times and stuff. We were here for the last go-round,” freshman Hannah Thurmon said.
The hardest part of a week away from school and their normal routines is staying up-to-date on homework. As each day passed in Lubbock, the lessons kept moving along in the classroom back in Missouri. To keep up, the team held study tables throughout the week, meeting in the hotel lobby to complete homework and stay caught up on their work so their grades don’t slip.
Despite that, missing out on time in the classroom can make it more difficult to follow along with what is goin on.
“It was stressful,” Shaw said.
Added Thurmon, “Not being there to know what’s going on, you just have to play it by the notes they give you.”
With the trip winding down and the team returning to Missouri, the classwork should get easier, but they enjoyed the trip while it lasted.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic