Kirkham's Korner: Eating and sleeping on the road

By Steve Kirkham published September 20, 2006

Eating and sleeping on the road in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference is not based on a one-to-five star system. The institutions struggle to provide transportation to and from each venue, so the rooms are not plush and the restaurants are not usually the best in town.

Of course that depends on the town. Where does a coach find a pre-game meal in Las Vegas N.M. or Chadron, Neb.? Remember a team, like an army, plays on its stomach. While some of the best Mexican food I've ever tasted was at Jalisco's in Silver City, green chili does not make for a balanced stomach at game time.

In Las Vegas, N.M., K-Bobs Steak House is the preferred meal for most coaches that have discovered its presence. In Chadron, the Country Kitchen, next door to the Best Western, where everybody stays is the best place.

On some trips you can go to legendary restaurants that served such luminaries as Doc Cotton, Bob Cortese, or even Lonnie Porter with his eclectic taste buds. In Alamosa, you go to True Grit where you are surrounded by John Wayne paraphernalia and only football players can clean their plate. Gunnison is Italian with Marios: The upside down salad is the best. In Durango take your pick to feed the team, but after they are bedded down the coaches hit Ariano's - magnifique!! I cannot tell you how excited all my players were when an Applebee's opened in Hays, Kan. No Rocky Mountain Oysters liked they used to have at the First Tee, but something you knew.

One must know the hotel circuit by heart. When the Eisenhower Tunnel and Hoosier Pass are both closed, if you're not ready with several numbers your team will sleep on the couches in the parlor of any hotel that will let you in. During a blizzard in eastern Colorado there are only two options between Burlington and Limon.

Do they have enough double queen beds with a roll-away so you can meet your budget? Three players to a room after eating average food and being cramped in the transportation available and still expected to compete, wow! Are there enough no smoking rooms left and do they have free breakfast? What time does the hot tub close? A hotel that hosts a group that has been on the road for three days better have the right amenities or there is no return trip.

I, for one, took my own pillow because the ones provided were often the too thick or too feathery - which equaled no sleep. Imagine a team of tired, cranky, kids worried about their studies and it is Saturday night on a three day road trip. The coach must get them ready to play….next week.

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