Here at UAA our athletes are no stranger to travel. Most Seawolf teams hit the road every other weekend once their season is in session.
This mean players and coaches alike must make the best of time spent together. After thousands of miles, week after week one can only imagine the stories these hard working members of our UAA family have accumulated.
Nikkie Viotto is approaching her third year with the UAA women’s volleyball team and has accumulated memories that one day she will look back on and laugh on.
“Recalling all of the stories and funny things that have happened on the road over the past few years I realized how much fun it is and how much I can’t wait to start the season.” Viotto said.
Every day on the trip is the same, the players wake up at the same time, eat at the same time, so the players find themselves forced to make each trip new and exciting. Once the teams hits the lower 48 they walk out of the planes and load up into mini vans where they will travel from town to town.
“From singing in the car and cramming as many people as we can into out mini vans to three hour drives from town to town where we make our coaches play our Spice Girl and Backstreet Boy jams as loud as possible so we can dance and sing at the top of our lungs, really make time pass quicker.” Viotto said.
Many times the women of the UAA volleyball team have turned the back of there mini vans into their own personal kitchens. “We will go to the grocery store and buy a huge variety of food.” From vegetable to hummus to lunch-able pizzas.”
“Sometimes I feel like some of the best memories we make are in the vans because we spend so much time in them.”
Her next story takes place in an airport terminal, another place UAA teams are forced to become accustomed to.
It was three am in the Seattle airport and the team had a couple hours to spare, so they decided to use a empty gate as a place to rest and all began to fall asleep.
“Apparently when we were sleeping they made an announcement over the intercom saying ‘Will the team occupying terminal (xxx) please wake up and move so people can sit down for their flight.’ Clearly we didn’t hear them because when we woke up we were surrounded by a lot of angry passengers.” Viotto said.
Another fond memory Viotta had at the airport was a game created from sever boredom and strong creativity.
The team found a neck pillow and used it to play a game similar to the television show “Who’s line is it anyway” They used as a prop trying to make a horse shoe, a toilet seat, a telephone, binoculars, a nose ring and much more.
The memories are simple though. Sometimes the girls dose off in a food court, sit in gum and even get stuck in closets or smelly mens locker rooms to prepare for game time, but the girls laugh it off and make the best of it.
Coaches travel just as much if not more than their athletes so they too have to find ways to entertain themselves. Head hockey coach Dave Shyiak can think of one memory that stands out above the rest, and that is a prank he plays on all of the freshman.
“When we go to Colorado schools we like to play a little prank of the freshman, because most of the freshman have never really played at such a high altitude. So we try to explain to them when your at a high elevation not only do your hands and feet swell but we try to sell to them that their heads swell as well.” Shyiak laughed. “So we tell them they have to give it some time for their heads to decompress but at the same time we get our trainers to tighten their helmets up so they get the feeling that their heads are really swelling.”
What comes next gives the rest of the team and coaches a good laugh. The coaches tell their new players to skate around as fast as they can to help decompress there heads. By the end of practice there heads are so sore from the helmets, the coaches take pity and loosen them up.
“A lot of them buy in to it.” Shyiak said with a grin. “You just have to be there.”