“Knock, knock…” There was silence; we had just made it to the hotel and were not really expecting anybody. As my teammate approached the door, we heard giggles from the other side before the pattering noise of small feet running across the hallway. We opened to find no one but the reverberating echo of a frustrated father calling his mischievous children back because they needed to “rest up before their big game tomorrow." That’s when I knew that we had made it to Cooperstown, New York. We also had a game the next day, naturally, not for the Little League Baseball Cooperstown is known for, but we were there for an Ultimate Frisbee tournament.
I hope this sets the stage for one of the most amazing things about my St. Lawrence experience, traveling across the state (and further) to play some Ultimate Frisbee. Our team is named the Ruckus Bus and contrary to what you’d expect, we don’t actually own one. Though this doesn’t stop the adventurous spirit and road trip mindedness of these fools I call teammates. Our journeys have spanned all the way from Montreal to South Carolina, with stops in Massachusetts and Maine on the way, but I wanted to highlight some of the shenanigans and bubbles in time that have been some of the most meaningful experiences to me.
It is one of those strange autumn days. It had gotten colder and colder but there was no sight of snow near the horizon. We had just set on course to Saratoga Springs, to a small bed and breakfast that would be our home base for the tournament weekend. A cozy cottage in the middle of the woods, with an ample lounge where we played board games, discussed strategies, and watched the classic American film, National Treasure. Yet it was neither the games nor the location that made this trip such a valuable memory. Even though the weather was pretty clear in Canton, Saratoga had just been hit by snow and the cottage was covered in this icy fluff. Now, back home in Costa Rica, we do not really get much snow, so this was my first time seeing and interacting with this strange weather phenomenon. I vividly remember one of my teammates teaching me to pack snowballs before tossing them my way in what I consider the start of my first snowball fight experience.
I had not realized what I had gotten into until we had to stop in a McDonald’s parking lot for a quick power nap. “What is the furthest you have ever driven?" I asked the driver. “Probably this," they confidently replied. We were 12 hours in and still five to go driving from SLU all the way to South Carolina. We were competing in High Tide, a weeklong tournament close to the (not quite Costa Rican) shores of Myrtle Beach. The week was intensive, full of draining games, wholesome sock wrestling, and one or more frustrating board-flipping worthy monopoly matches. Yet, it was in the fields that we were baffled by one of the most ironic matchups of the semester. After playing various teams from the Northeast and even Nebraska and Kansas, we ended up drawing in the same pool as another team we are rather familiar with. Let’s just say that the Route 11 rivalry holds for more than just hockey and we had driven more than 15 hours south to play the 15-minute-away Clarkson University. What a game.
“Have you ever tried cold cheese pizza?” I knew New York State was known for its pizza (I can already hear people from the City typing comments), but nothing compares to this cheesy interpretation of the classic Neapolitan dish found in Oneonta, New York. Many frisbee memories are created on the field, but never underestimate how the social aspect of food brings people together like nothing else. Our journeys are always marked by the aromas and tastes of home-cooked foods and lots of trail mixes and granola bars (no dried mango though) but exploring towns for pizza has become a classic postgame calorie recharging ritual.
We try to make three or four tournaments per semester, it pushes us forward and drives the cohesiveness that makes us a team. Even then, I have not mentioned some of our own adventures in our hometown of Canton or how we got the President of the University to rock one of our own jerseys, but I’ll have to save that for another time. Team trips have become a pillar of my SLU experience and I am eagerly waiting for the next couple of tournaments left in the semester. And even if this sentiment has just been the experience of an international student being exposed to road trips for the first time, maybe there is also something about St. Lawrence and its people that incites a sense of curiosity and a drive to explore outside their comfort zones. Maybe it is something in the water of the Metro East, or maybe something about this small homey community in the Center of Everything, New York.