Most of the time they are just regular students. They attend lectures, take notes and stress about tests, but they have another job to do as well. During their seasons, student-athletes lead double lives. Sometimes they are at Binghamton University, taking classes and managing practices and games, but for a considerable portion of their time, they are on the road. And the road is a whole different world from BU.
While many students are in class, teams travel as far as Vermont, Nevada, Texas, Alaska, Cancun and Toronto.
“It’s amazing where you can go and where basketball can take you just by playing a game,” said men’s basketball junior guard JC Show.
The men’s basketball team went to Cancun and Toronto during this past year’s season.
Women’s basketball freshman forward Kaylee Wasco loves away games because they give her an excuse to travel to new places. A Michigan native, she rarely travels outside of basketball season. This past year, the women’s team played in Las Vegas, Utah and Alaska. Each trip came with its own unique experiences and stories. In Vegas, while attempting to sightsee, Wasco fondly remembers getting lost with her coaches.
“It was me and all the coaches, but we got separated in the mall from [associate head coach Leah Bowers] and her wife and they were like our tour guides,” Wasco said. “They knew where everything was. We lost them. And so it was just me and [assistant coach Kirsty Leedham] and [assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Chenel Harris-Smith]. And Coach Harris is from Canada. Coach Leedham’s from England. So we had a Canadian, a Brit and the freshman from Michigan who doesn’t really go anywhere outside the Great Lakes.”
They were lost for a while before finding their way to the Bellagio fountains. In Alaska, Wasco remembers waking up for the northern lights.
“That was the most exciting wake-up call I’ve ever gotten, was to go see the northern lights,” Wasco said. “It was like 11 o’clock and I went out on our balcony in the hotel and they were so outstanding.”
While the women’s basketball team was in frosty Alaska, the men’s team traveled to sunny Cancun for a couple of games. Show loved his time in Mexico.
“Any time you go on the road, it’s an opportunity to have a great bonding,” Show said. “But we went to Cancun this past season and that was really fun. Just being able to go to a different country … just the experience of going to an all-inclusive resort and speaking for myself, I’ve never done anything like before in my life or seen anything like that, so that was really fun.”
Different teams have different cultures for bus rides during away games. The men’s basketball team keeps a relaxed atmosphere, according to Show. They watch movies on the way there and if they win, on the way back, too. Some players play Fortnite, some do homework. The women’s basketball team also does homework and watches movies.
“We had a big theme of romantic comedy movies this year, so we did a lot of crying on the bus actually,” Wasco said.
Both teams also have different food traditions. The men’s basketball team loves playing teams like Loyola and UMBC, when they can stay at their favorite hotel and eat crabcakes and tenderloins at the hotel restaurant. They also love driving home from games located closer to the south where they can find a Chick-fil-A to stop at. The women’s basketball team prefers The Cheesecake Factory.
One part of away games that is always hard for players is keeping up with work, but both Show and Wasco said BU does a great job of enforcing study hall hours to make sure players get their work done.
Beyond the food, travel and stress of schoolwork, Show loves going on the road because he is able to bond with his teammates.
“Any time you go on the road, for an extended period of time especially, it’s just you and the guys and it’s a lot of fun to talk and trade stories, poke fun at each other and just enjoy each other’s company,” Show said. “I think that those trips really result in a lot of bonding as a team and you get closer together.”