November 25, 2013

Bobcats Invade the Northwest: Day One Update from Sunday

Follow along with the Bobcats Go West Blog this week as the Lees-McRae College women's basketball team embarks on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Fairbanks, Alaska to play in the North Star Invitational, hosted by the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

To go north and west to Alaska, the Lees-McRae women's basketball team started by going south and east on an all-day trek that lasted over 22 hours, and saw about 10 hours in the air that covered around 3,800 miles.

The day started around 6:20 a.m. when the teams loaded up and headed towards Charlotte. On the way, the van driven by assistant coach Ryan Riedel, most of the time was spent sleeping. However, from unconfirmed reports, a signing competition occurred on head coach Michele Williams' van. Upon arrival around 9:30 a.m., we were able go through security and find the gates before loading the first flight of the day at 12:09 p.m. Some of the players were nervous for their first flight ever. Of the squad, at least five had never flown before or had not flown since childhood.

It was something for the first time flyers to start the process, but everything went smoothly and we arrived in Chicago around 1:17 p.m. CST (2:17 EST). Then it was time to find the gate and wait on the next flight, which was scheduled to depart at 3:41 p.m. CST (4:41 EST). While at the gate relaxing with Williams, her mother and Riedel, we saw a tall man walk by and we all looked at each other. It was none other than Bill Russell walking by on his way to Starbucks.

After a few minutes, it was time to board the next flight; however we were slightly delayed pulling away from the gate for a flight that was scheduled to take close to seven hours. Due to flying into the jet stream with 100 MPH winds, we were slowed on the flight into Anchorage and arrived there around 7:50 p.m. AKST (11:50 EST). For some of the team, it seemed like the flight went on and on. Many slept the whole way, while others watched the in-flight movie, "The Heat", and the other shows or listened to the music channels.

It was safe to say that when we landed in Anchorage, everyone was ready for the hotel, but we had to wait another couple of hours to leave for the short flight to Fairbanks. We were greeted by snow on the ground in Anchorage and were told that it was partly cloudy in Fairbanks.

The day's last flight took off at 10:55 p.m. AKST (2:55 EST). The 40-minute flight seemed short compared to the earlier flight and then it was time to head to the Westmark Hotel for a well deserved night's rest to conclude a day that saw close to 10 hours in the air. Luckily the hotel is just moments away from the Fairbanks International Airport. The drive took a little longer due to the snow on the road, but the temperature was around 12 degrees, which was roughly the same as the temperature when we left Banner Elk early Sunday morning.

Time to see what Monday holds for the Lees-McRae women's basketball team in Fairbanks.