The year was 2006. And I’d slept through my alarm for my first flight as a freshman on the Penn State lacrosse team.
Our team flew once a year. We were headed to Nashville, Tennessee, to play Vanderbilt. My roommate, who was also a teammate, was on a later flight. They split us up on two flights because the airplanes that flew out of State College, Pennsylvania, were too small to carry our entire team.
I practically ice-skated on the slick walkway as I headed to the bus in the pitch black alone at the ungodly hour of 5:00am with cream still on my face. This is what nightmares are made of. Yet, I was very much awake.
Miraculously, I made the bus on time and even managed to remember my lacrosse stick and other necessities. Bonus — our team won that year.
Two years later, and for our next flight to Vanderbilt, things got crazier.
I thought I was lucky to be on the later flight this year. Bragging ensued. However, the bus that was supposed to give us a ride to the airport never returned to pick up our half of the team.
Small confusion with stressful consequences.
Cue rushing to the airport in whichever cars teammates had in our parking lot. We would have been like Kevin McCallister’s family in “Home Alone,” racing through the airport, if the airport wasn’t so small.
Good effort but not good enough. The staff refused to let us on because we weren’t there at least 30 minutes before takeoff. Our head coach hated flying and had just taken Dramamine. She was a bit too loopy to argue our team’s way onto the plane. Despite our assistant coach’s best effort, and even though we were basically the entire passenger group, we were still denied.
Missing the flight, we took a 14-hour bus ride to Nashville. I can still hear my family laughing on the phone when I called to share the news. It was Easter weekend and while they had a delicious meal of beef tenderloin, I was having Cracker Barrel not once, but twice. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I now protest eating there during road trips.
One of the things I remember most from the trip was my best friend taking Benadryl, hoping to sleep. She forgot that she’d already taken two pills and then took another two pills. I passed much of the trip by regularly checking both her pulse and breathing. Thankfully, she was fine.
After the bus ride, we lost the next day. On the flight home, I got stuck sitting next to the only person not affiliated with our team on the plane. Small plane and smaller seats, I was squished next to them.
Safe to say, I was grateful for only one flight a year during my college lacrosse season. One too many if you ask me.
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