Driving home from work at lunch Friday I passed by the Best Western on Main Street and saw a group of ballplayers hanging out in the parking lot.
They must have been waiting for the rest of their team, coaches and parents to head to lunch somewhere.
I forget, sometimes, how many teams travel to and stay in Sheridan for different sporting events. But the sight of the team brought back a lot of memories, too.
I’ve spent a lot of my life waiting for teams in restaurants, dugouts and airports. I grew up playing sports and I spent a lot of time traveling.
Nearly every weekend over the winter, and some weeknights too, my family would pile into the car to go watch my brother play hockey.
In the summer, my softball team, the Thunderbolts, traveled to various tournaments across the region. We mostly stayed in the Midwest and parts of the South, but it was always a decent car ride to get where we were going.
My parents would haul me, my gear, a pop-up tent and a cooler to wherever I needed to be each weekend. They rarely complained, despite the thousands of miles we put on their vehicles.
Those road trips with my family and teammates are some of my favorite memories.
One time, we were staying in Tennessee for a softball tournament. It was hotter than I could ever remember it being. It was sticky, humid and the bugs down there were the size of my clenched fist. Trust me, I know, I squished a few.
We had made hotel reservations pretty late in the week, so we ended up in a kind of rundown motel. We all got there, changed into our swim suits and headed to the pool. The parents cringed at the sight of it. The water wasn’t quite the right color and it had a funky smell. But my teammates and I didn’t care.
After the swim, I remember going back to the room with my family only to find these weird little lizards running around the sidewalks. I hate slimy critters. Not hate in the sense that I’m afraid of them; but, they give me the heeby geebies. While I cringed in the corner, my mom and brother tried to swat these little creepy crawlies out of our room. They got most of them, but I didn’t sleep much that night. I tried to be as still as I could and listen for those little feet skittering across the tile floors.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, in college my teammates and I stayed at The Drake in Chicago. The hotel sits right on Michigan Avenue and just exudes class. We stayed there during a tournament that was being held in Chicago. Our coaches wanted us off campus and away from distractions.
Not bad digs, really.
Anyway, as I sit on the swing in my yard Friday night and listen to the sound of pitches finding the sweet part of baseball bats, I’ll likely continue reminiscing about all of my team travels. Those were the days.