How to Wear Shorts in January
By volunteer assistant coach and former Virginia goalkeeper Ginger Miles
Our season has officially begun with three great matches in sunny Orlando, Fla. Seventy-five and sunny it was NOT unfortunately, but when the breeze stood still it was almost warm enough for shorts…almost (the choice to wear shorts Saturday night was a bad one as I spent much of the game just trying to keep warm).
As a former player, this road trip was everything I remember them to be from my old playing days: five-star dinners, posh hotels, first class flights and fending off fans vying for autographs. Ok, so our road trips are none of those things BUT they’re still loads of fun. It’s more like lots of lax, funny smelling buses, lost boarding passes/IDs, “quick turnarounds,” good meals and LOTS of laughs.
This weekend the competition was tough. Playing the US teams and Japan meant we really had to bring our “A” game. That meant every time we hit the field it was all business. We did however find time off the field to get in a lot of laughter and a few memorable moments.
A lot of groggy faces showed up at UHall at 4:15 a.m. for our Friday departure. That’s right, 4:15 AM, folks. The ride to Richmond airport seemed to fly by as almost everyone was trying to catch every last wink of sleep they could- everyone except for Colleen and Annie that is. Poor Annie Taylor (one of our first years) attempted to make the trip despite being on the brink of some sort of stomach flu. Colleen valiantly (and quite happily) distracted her all the way to Richmond but unfortunately as soon as she got off the bus she knew this trip was not in the cards. Annie didn’t make the trip.
The rest of us dragged into the airport, through check in and onto security. It was almost a smooth process until one of our first years couldn’t find her license. Unwilling to let us vouch for her (kudos airport security) it was almost a serious crisis. Luckily, she was able to find her ID amongst her things just in the nick of time and cheers erupted as she boarded the plane. Disaster averted!
Our landing in Florida was well welcomed as the weather in Virginia was pretty darn cold at take off. Unfortunately for us, it was raining in the sunshine state. Now most teams might worry about that for their upcoming practice (no one likes practicing the rain right?) but not Virginia lacrosse.
I’ll let you in on a little UVa lax secret. Our head coach, Julie Myers has some sort of magical control over the weather. Without fail, when practice time rolls around the clouds always seem to part, the rain trickles to a stop and the sun seems to emerge brighter than ever before. I don’t know how she does it, but in my four years as a player I can remember practicing in rain MAYBE 10 times. That’s INCREDIBLE odds (ask any alum and they’re sure to verify this claim).
Sure enough, this time was like all the others and the sun came out right on cue. The fields were muddy but not practicing in rain was a godsend and the Florida weather we were expecting had arrived! Time to break out the shorts!
From practice, we had one our famous “quick turnarounds” so we could make our way to downtown Disney for a scrumptious dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant. That’s right, THE Wolfgang Puck. YUM! The preset menu offered three great options and every single one of us left the restaurant pleasantly full. (We even had dessert and sang happy birthday to one of our athletic trainers, Susan. Happy birthday Susan!)
We’d need that meal to fuel us through two, tough, back-to-back matches against the US teams on Saturday. Both matches were fun to watch and be a part of. Good lacrosse is a beautiful display of athleticism, speed, precision passes and well-executed defense. Saturday was that and more. We were eager to play someone other than ourselves that’s for sure! For many of our players (and myself), it was also fun to see old friends and former teammates on the US squads.
Following the game, it was another “quick turnaround” for some Chicago deep dish pizza. We ate more pizza than I’d like to admit and even had a couple pies left over. More than anything, however, it was time for bed. Welcome to the typical road trip routine of lax, eat, sleep, repeat.
Morning came before we knew it and players huddled around TVs to watch the final games of the Federer/Nadal match before it was time to load the bus again.
A feisty Japan squad tested our endurance but eventually we pulled out a “W.” We ate lunch and then were off to HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS! With four hours of downtime before our flight we were stoked to have the opportunity to get on some rides and let loose before heading back to Charlottesville.
At the airport, we managed to only catch a dozen minutes of the Superbowl much to our chagrin (mine especially) but we were thankful to see even a few plays and a couple of funny commercials on TV. Once we boarded, our captain kept us updated with scores and play-by-play, thank goodness. I think he was a Steelers fan… Once we landed we found an airport employee by baggage claim with a small handheld TV and again huddled around to watch the exciting final moments of the game. (Congrats Steelers fans!)
Even though we missed much of the Superbowl, it was a great trip and now we know what we need to do as a team to be even better. We’re ready to “hit the ground running” so to speak, when we play our first game in a couple weeks AND I got to wear shorts in January! All in all, I couldn’t ask for a better start to the spring of ’09.