Traveling with CWU football

Observer Staff

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Wildcat football recently spent seven weekends on the road traveling everywhere from Bothell to Texas to British Columbia. While the majority of the team’s energy is spent on the field, preparing for games and traveling is no small feat.

Typically, there are over 80 people traveling to each game including players, coaches and trainers. CWU usually brings about 60 players, the coaches responsible for each division of the team and a few trainers.  

When the Wildcats travel they wear  “travel suits” consisting of a team sweatshirt, sweatpants and matching shoes. Looking uniform helps put forth a respectable image for both the team and the university.

“We are taught by our coaches to respect and represent CWU when we travel and to respect the people we run into while traveling,” said offensive lineman Reggie Long.

In addition to people, the buses – and planes on rare occasions – are packed with gear, including Gatorade coolers, pads and medical supplies.

“It can get a little hectic loading up all the gear onto a bus and unloading it at the airport,” said head coach Ian Shoemaker. “We have a great staff that takes care of that for us and allows the players to get checked in.”

The location of the game usually determines whether the team will be traveling by plane or bus. Regardless, the team has to take a roughly two-hour bus ride to the airport in Seattle.

The actual process of getting the players to a game is a lot more complicated than just hopping on a bus or plane. The cost of flying the players and coaches is not cheap, so if possible the team tries to take a bus to the game. The only time the team flies is if the game is farther than California.

“We take a bus trip to Seattle, then move the team through security at the airport, fly to where we are playing, then get bags and get on a different bus to the hotel to check everyone in,” Shoemaker said.

CWU usually leaves a day in advance to get settled into their hotel and prepare for the next day. Once they check in, they leave the hotel to go eat dinner as a team at a nearby pizza or fast food restaurant.

On rare occasions, CWU will get catered meals at the hotel or go to a restaurant where the team can order personal meals.

After eating, the players return to the hotel and have position and team meetings to prepare for the game the next day which include walk-throughs of different plays as a team before going to bed.

In the morning, the players and coaches eat breakfast and hold a quick meeting before going to the field around two hours before kickoff.

After the game, win or lose, the Wildcats pack up and head for the buses. They make quick stops for food and to gather their things from the hotel before disembarking by bus or plane back to Ellensburg to prepare for the next week.

“Play the game, get pizza and get on the bus back to the hotel, travel to the airport to fly home, then do it all over again,” said senior running back Austin Pernell.

The final away game of the 2017 season saw the Wildcats traveling to Humboldt State University in Arcata, California on Nov. 11. They won 42-28, bringing their away record to 6-0.  

Despite the favorable outcome, coach Shoemaker doesn’t discount the amount of work it is for players to travel.

Traveling “can be an exhausting process and can definitely take a toll on their bodies,” Shoemaker said.

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Traveling with CWU football