Aug. 23, 2007
Our five-day road trip began with an early morning departure from the
McGraw Center. Tweleve sleepy players, four members of the coaching staff, an athletic trainer and the SID were on the bus as it pulled out a little before 6:15 a.m. on the way to Denver International Airport. We arrived early, checked in for the first leg of our flight and made it to the gate with plenty of time to spare.
When we started boarding, the realization of how small the air craft really was became apparent. Most of the players were close to having their chins resting on their knees. There was some lively banter in the back, something about non-reclining seats. The laughter was heard for all of about 10 minutes before most people were asleep. The plane departed about 15 minutes late but we still arrived with time to connect in Salt Lake City.
After a break to grab something to eat before the five hour and 57-minute flight (not that anyone was counting), the team boarded the 757 and stowed luggage. CSU was tucked into the final five rows or so for the duration of the flight. The crew of the plane welcomed the Rams and wished them good fortune against the University of Hawai'i despite the presence of several UH alums.
Before takeoff Mel Ota, the flight attendant for the back half of the plane, entertained several players by "tearing" a two dollar bill in half then putting it back together. He followed up that routine with some amazing "melting" rubber bands. Takeoff was on time for the flight and there was a pretty rough patch of air to start things off. After a few minutes the plane evened out and the team read, studied, slept or watched Spiderman 3, the in-flight movie.
Captain Peterson offered a contest to see who could pinpoint the time, to the second, of the halfway point of the flight. With a box of chocolate covered macadamia nuts on the line the majority of the team took a shot at it.
Mel was back about halfway through the flight, this time with his magic cup and wand. Emily got involved in the trick and to her surprise completed it, revealing the ball after a tap of the magic wand. Mel ensured that there was more laughter and smiles throughout the flight as he took his show down the aisles. Myles, Head Coach Tom Hilbert's daughter, joined Tonya, Mekana and Becca in a crowd around him as the show continued. The camera from The Mountain West Sports Network came out and some prime shots of people sleeping and smiling were captured.
Ashley's family also is traveling for the tournament and her mom passed out extra snacks for the long flight. It was fun to have family and friends traveling with the team on this important road trip. The flight passed relatively quickly and we arrived in Honolulu a few minutes early.
As we got off the plane we were greeted at baggage claim by Summer, a former CSU player. She and her father gave us a traditional Hawaiian greeting complete with fresh flower leis. We then proceeded to get the van and drive to our hotel which is about two blocks from the beach. We have a view of the ocean and about two hours to explore before dinner.
Aloha for now and look for more postcards from the trip.