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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

How teams budget for valuable yet costly pre-season trips

<s 5:30 in the morning on the day after Winter Term 2016 classes ended, and the Carleton baseball team, dressed entirely in hoodies and sweatpants, had just boarded a bus and taken their seats. Headphones in and seats reclined, they were ready to go. Seven states, one thousand five hundred thirty-nine miles and 28 hours of music, sleep, movies, and gas station bathroom breaks later, they would unload at the Holiday Inn Express in Winter Haven Florida, ready for a week and a half of spring training baseball.

Each year, Carleton sports teams travel around the country for their preseason trips. Some fly, some take buses. Teams go to a variety of different locations, traveling as far as Hawaii or Florida, while others stay closer with trips to Iowa.

For certain sports, like softball and baseball, heading south for preseason trips provides these teams with a unique opportunity to escape the frigid Minnesota winters and get a head start on practicing outside. After a long winter of practicing on the rubber courts of Carleton’s Rec Center, the Knights welcome the opportunity to get a jump start on adjusting to the rigors of outdoor competition.

While these trips certainly provide an opportunity for skill work, it also allows for the team members to become closer with one another. According to Alec Lawler ’18, a captain of the baseball team, “it’s great that we get to play so many games and work on getting better, but the best part is how we all get to spend two weeks hanging out and growing our relationships with each other.”

Henry Benson ’20, a basketball player, echoed Lawler’s sentiments about his team’s trip to Hawaii. “The trip was great for our team culture, and being a freshman, it was especially great for me to be so immersed with relatively new guys. It was so important to our team culture to create that bond during this experience, and it really helped us later in the season,” said Benson.

For coaches, there’s a lot of planning that goes into organizing preseason trips. They have to pick the right location as well as organize travel for their entire team, which can be up to 30 people. For Aaron Rushing, head coach of the baseball team, it usually comes down to cost, convenience and level of play. Certain tournaments, for example, feature teams that travel south as well, meaning the Knights would have the opportunity to compete against teams that are at similar points in their seasons.

On the other end of this spectrum are tournaments that feature predominantly southern teams, who have had the opportunity to play year-round. Coaches have to decide what’s best for their team and determine how they want to get there. While last year the baseball team took a bus, this season they’ll be flying to Arizona.

This year, through a combination of rising bus prices and finding inexpensive airline tickets, it’s actually cheaper for the Knights to fly. Again, it comes down to cost and convenience. Each method has its respective advantages and disadvantages. For example, taking a bus means the Knights get to have drivers and transportation readily available to them, whether for travel to games, practices or team dinners. Busses also avoid the hassle of airports and the possibility of experiencing flight delays or cancellations. Flying, as it’s much quicker, frees up two additional days for the trip, leaving more time for practice and play.

While team trips require thoughtful planning and commitment from both players and coaches, these preseason experiences provide an invaluable opportunity for teams to improve their performance and develop strengthened relationships both on and off the field. 

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