Kirkham's Korner: Travel in the RMAC - getting there and back

By Steve Kirkham published September 14, 2006

One of the amazing things about the athletes in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference is their ability to compete on a high level while making some of the toughest travel one could imagine.

I cannot discuss all that they overcome in one Korner, so I will break it up into four parts.

Getting there and back:

Imagine you are 6'10" and you are not a senior, that relegates you to one of the interior seats of a 15 passenger van. This is for a minimum of three hours at a time. Some of the trips might be for ten hours. Of course you also have to throw in the weather, blizzards that cause whiteouts or black ice now the trip is fourteen hours.

You might get lucky and be in a bus where there might be room to spread out. Naturally it goes much slower up the numerous mountain passes you must go over and the trip takes longer. There is a movie playing that helps pass the time but you probably have on head phones so you can study for the microbiology test you have when you return to school.

The stories are numerous about arriving ten minutes before tip-off, running out of gas when the nearest station is 60 miles away, getting lost trying to find a gym, dead alternators, chains that don't fit, even a flat tire on Red Mountain Pass - all personal experiences in sixteen years of travel in the RMAC.

You then play the game or compete in an event and get back on the transportation and head to the next place that night to do it again the next day. Then you leave Hays, Kansas, after the game at 10:30 at night which puts you back in Grand Junction just in time for breakfast at the cafeteria and your 8:00 AM class.

There is nothing that tests your love for something you do like watching the sun come up somewhere in the western United States still hours from home when you left there four days ago, especially when you played with all your heart and lost twice.

Next time you watch an athlete compete in the RMAC please appreciate all they do to put on a uniform and play hard while still getting a degree when they are through playing. They truly are the student-athletes one pictures in their mind at the collegiate level.

Next week: eating and sleeping on the road.

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