Long trips have benefits for players

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Bishop Carroll Catholic and State College will both be making trips longer than three hours to play a high school football game today.

It’s an issue both school districts would probably prefer to avoid between the travel expenses, the missed classes for students and the hardship for many fans and family to make the trip.

After all, State College will be playing at Saint Augustine, N.J. with an early kickoff time of 6 p.m. No parents with a typical 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job will be making that four-hour trip without using time off work. Carroll’s opponent, East Canton, Ohio, is a little closer but still a three-hour trek.

But for the kids on the teams, it’s probably something they’ve been looking forward to for quite some time.

Some of my best high school memories involved bus rides to and from sporting events. It’s basically a chance to hang out with some of your best friends for hours and experience something different.

When the Huntingdon baseball team won the Curve Classic in Altoona last year, and Bellwood-Antis captured the PIAA Class 2A girls basketball state championship, one of the first things being discussed by both teams after the games was wanting to get to Texas Roadhouse to celebrate.

Chestnut Ridge football coach Max Shoemaker has had to endure plenty of long bus rides throughout the Lions’ decade as an independent program prior to Ridge re-joining the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference this season. He said he always made certain he took his kids to a college campus along the way or to a special place to eat.

Shoemaker actually referenced the travels all of those teams made as something he contributed to last Friday’s win at Forest Hills. It taught players coming through Chestnut Ridge that they could compete, and win, anywhere.

Long bus rides and hectic travel schedules are something that you often hear minor league baseball players complain about. Some veteran professional athletes cite travel as wearing their bodies down. But for high school kids, it’s all about the experience.

Part of the reason AAU has become so popular is the fun involved with hoping into a van with a bunch of your teammates and friends and traveling to a town you’ve never been to and playing the game you all love for most of the day.

BC was originally scheduled to play at Saint Joseph’s last week. When that program folded, Carroll went all the way to West Virginia and pulled off an overtime win.

The memories they made on that bus will be something that sticks with them a lot longer than any final score of their high school careers.

Michael Boytim can be reached at mboytim@altoonamirror.com or 946-7521.

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