Amherst College Athletics
Amherst College  
Site Map
Amherst College > Athletics > Men's Basketball > Florida Travelogue > Day Seven
Florida Trip
My poor car, right where I left it

Florida Travelogue - Day Seven: "The Long Road Home"

Sunday, January 5, 2003

4 a.m. comes early. Part of me says I shouldn’t have gone to bed at all. When I open my eyes Coach Hixon is standing over me with a cup of coffee. He’s like a ninja - dressed, packed, showered, shaven - and I slept through all of it. I follow suit and soon Coach and I are alone in the lobby, waiting for the rest of the crew. Soon enough players file out of the elevator, rubbing the sleep from their eyes. Our flight is scheduled for 7:35 a.m. and we seem to be running ahead of schedule.

At the airport Coach Flockerzi is responsible for checking the team in at the Delta desk while the remaining coaches return our four rented minivans. His mission is to arrange for the team to be checked in separate from the masses as the lines in the terminal seem to snake endlessly. A sympathetic agent leads us to a vacant desk and our own special Delta rep, who turns out to be the most pleasant airline employee on the planet. Pat Fitzsimons is first in line. His face wrinkles in anguish when he’s asked how our trip went and if we won our game. The trip was great, the game not so good. On his way past, “Fitzy”, who stands 6-foot-8 and is all legs, holds up his ticket and says, “Oh great, the middle seat.” He’ll have to fold himself up like a lawn chair on the flight. Behind me, bags in hand, Steve Zieja lurches past two or three players to the front of the line. “Sorry, the weight of my bags pulled me forward,” he says, which gets a good laugh. Behind me, John Bedford is sacked out on his duffle bag, half asleep, while players step over and around him.

With everyone checked in we make our way through the metal detectors and on to our gate where we board our nonstop flight to Hartford. We take over the rear section of the plane and I’m glad to see “Fitzy” was able to strike a deal for an aisle seat, as did his partners in verticality, 6-foot-8 Don Quinn and 6-7 Andrew Schiel. I finish my trip the way I started it, with my travel partner Keith Zalaski, who’s sawing wood in the seat next to me, mouth wide open, before the plane even takes off. I’m not far behind but can’t resist snapping a photo of Keith’s open mouth before I nod off.

When I awake and look out the window, the landscape below, with its leafless trees and blanketed white snow, looks like a spotted beard on a pale man’s face. New England appears frigid.

A bus takes us from the airport back to campus and it dawns on me that my poor car, parked in the lot adjacent to Orr Rink, is probably under several feet of snow. I dread the thought of digging it out, especially since I’m still dressed for Florida weather.

Back at school an announcement is made, “Practice today at 3 p.m.” We’re right back where we started, literally.

-Kevin Graber, Sports Information Director