Monday, December 17, 2012

High School Sports Travel

Awhile back I blogged about traveling to Barrow and other bush communities for high school sports, but this past week I was initiated to the experience of travel to a basketball tournament in Anchorage--'just' Anchorage!

Aurora is now on the basketball team and Douglas is filling in as the JV coach until one gets hired.  Last week Lumen Christi High School in Anchorage held the first basketball tournament of the year.  Both the JV girls and boys teams were registered to go.  Here is how it all plays out:

Two weeks before the tournament my husband volunteered me to be in charge of food for the girls team at the tournament (my penalty for not attending the parent meeting!).  That involved connecting with an experienced parent about the food they normally provide (all meals plus snacks) and what supplies the team already had, come up with a menu, ask for parent donations of home-cooked meals, shop for the food, find coolers for hauling all the items and get everything to the school in time for leaving.  It also included talking to the Athletic Director (When is the first game?), the bookkeeper who made the hotel reservations (Where are they staying?  Is breakfast provided?  Are there microwaves available?), the bus scheduler (What time does the bus leave?  How many meals need to be provided?) and the school secretary who is a basketball mom who helps coordinate everything.

Douglas was in Anchorage the week before the tournament so I sent him to Costco with a grocery list for the team.  I rounded up 5 coolers (!!) for all the items, 3 parents who donated meals, and coordinated the drop-off at school.  As it would happen, the weather reports were nasty:  freezing rain the whole Kenai Peninsula and Anchorage the day the kids were leaving.  They were supposed to leave at 4 p.m. after a short practice, but the weather reports were grim so in the interest of safety, the morning of the leave time was switched to noon to be in Anchorage before it got cold and the freezing rain was truly frozen on the roads and before it got dark (by 5 p.m. so close to solstice).  Kids, coaches, chaperones and me as food supplier were scrambling to adjust, but it all came together and all got up to Anchorage safely.  Whew!

Since my husband was coach, I got an insider's view of how things are run.  The kids had study halls and team meetings that structured their time.  The first day the girls played at 11:30 or so and the boys shortly after, so there wasn't a lot of spare time.  Friday, however, the boys played at 6:30 and the girls at 8:15 since both were in the winner's bracket.  That left a looooong day to fill, and team meetings and study halls weren't going to fill it all.  The coaches decided to go to the Anchorage Museum so the kids could see the Body Worlds Vital exhibit.  Transportation and coordination of 25-30 people, meals, studying, etc. took up the rest of the time till the kids needed to be at the school.  

Day 2 saw another win for the boys and girls which put both teams in the championship game:  6:30 p.m. for the girls and 8:15 p.m. for the boys.  Yikes!  The girls ended up getting second in the tournament and the boys first.  By 10 p.m. they were on the bus.  A quick stop at Fred Meyers gave the kids time to grab food if they wanted any.  Another quick stop in an hour at the Girdwood gas station gave the bus driver a chance to get a drink and the kids to take a bathroom break.  They had to be on the Kenai Peninsula by midnight (school district rule).  No more stops meant they pulled into Homer High School at 3 a.m.  Parents were on hand to pick up their kids.  A friend brought Douglas and Aurora home.  

All that food they'd taken was dumped in a big pile in the office.  Next morning we headed over there, sorted out the girls' food from the boys' food and cleaned up as best we could.  Once home I sorted out what food would be useable for this week's tournament (Yep!  We do it all over again!  Yet another tournament this week!), what would go bad before then and that the girls could eat during required study hall/dinner (On the days the girls have 6-8 p.m. practice they are required to go to study hall from 4-5.  Food is provided.).

Whew!  The kids and coaches missed 2 1/2 days of school, spent a lot of time in the bus, in hotels and 'killing time.'  The kids will be doing this probably 6 times this season for Anchorage area and Cordova tournaments and back-to-back game days.  Many of the sports teams have rigorous schedules like this.  Kids have to be so on top of things in order to maintain their grades in the face of long travel times (This is only the weekend tournaments!  They have games earlier in the week too, as far away as 2 1/2 hours on school nights!).  My daughter says the study halls are very helpful, as is having food provided.  These are not special traveling teams--these are just the normal high school sports in Homer.  I shake my head to think of how many times teams in the bush get on ferries and airplanes in a school year, particularly if kids are in multiple sports.

So this is my not-so-exciting but oh-so-Alaskan life in Homer at the moment:  coordinating food and travel!

And the only picture I have of the event:  the girls with their 2nd place trophy!

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