The travel is just a bit longer here

Back when I was coaching at the University of Exeter in England we griped a bit about some of the longer conference trips. We’re talking mainly about having to go to Bath and Bournemouth. In England if you’re going north/south you’re usually going to be able to do it on a major motorway. Going east/west isn’t quite the same. The roads are much smaller, making for much slower going.

Bournemouth isn’t actually that far from Exeter as the crow flies, but it was entirely east/west travel. That means 2.5 hours of 2-lane roads with frequent roundabouts. Not fun, though with some nice scenery. Bath does at least have part of the trip on the motorway, but the rest is on smaller roads with lots of speed changes (one year the players complained of being nauseous on the mini-bus trip there because of that). By comparison, Cardiff was an easy ride because it was all motorway, despite being further in distance.

When we got promoted from Western Division 1 to Southern Premier League for my third year at Exeter, the travel got extended – adding places like Sussex, Cambridge, and Warwick. The trips got up to maybe 5 or 6 hours. In terms of non-league play, we had to go to Edinburgh for 2014 Final 8s, which was about 10 hours (teams had to go there for playoff matches in 2015 and 2016 as well).

When I was at Svedala in Sweden most of the trips were less than 3 hours. All the ones into the Copenhagen area to play Danish teams were about an hour. The travel to the northern group of teams (only played once in the regular season) were 4-6 hours. We had about a 10 hour trip to Uppsala for Gran Prix, but weather made that longer than it would have otherwise been.

Now, here’s the map of where Midwestern State will play in 2016.

MSU-Travel-Map

Texas A&M Kingsville is the most southern point (near Corpus Christi). Google tells me that’s about 8 hours drive from Wichita Falls (red X). That’s a conference match.

Topeka is our most northerly destination (Washburn University). It’s where we play a tournament the first weekend of the season. That’s like 6.5 hours. In terms of conference destinations, West Texas A&M in Canyon (near Amarillo) is the furthest north, but it’s more west in terms of distance.

The long trip is a new edition to our league – Western New Mexico in Silver City. That’s about 11 hours away. They are 6+ hours away from Eastern New Mexico, where we play on the same trip. That’s going to be no fun at all. So happy to have them!

Fortunately, at MSU we have charter buses. No player or parent – or coach – driving as was the case in my last two coaching stops. I’m going to have lots of time to listen to podcasts and read!

John Forman
About the Author: John Forman

John currently coaches for an NCAA Division II women’s team. This follows a stint as head coach for a women’s professional team in Sweden. Prior to that he was the head coach for the University of Exeter Volleyball Club BUCS teams (roughly the UK version of the NCAA) while working toward a PhD. He previously coached in Division I of NCAA Women’s Volleyball in the US, with additional experience at the Juniors club level, both coaching and managing, among numerous other volleyball adventures. Learn more on his bio page.

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