Last weekend’s trip to Army with the men’s lacrosse team marked the 24th such travel for me since the first football trip to Northeastern on October 3rd, more than usual this year because of my spring semester sabbatical. I always enjoy these trips. Dr. Walsh has frequently referred to them has his mini vacations; they fill a similar function for me, only with the understanding that there is a pastoral connection. For football, there is a gameday team Mass, a pregame prayer in the locker room, and a postgame moment of prayer (best when a prayer of thanksgiving) on the field. In basketball last year, we generally started with a small scale Mass in my room anchored by Dr. Walsh, Bob Fouracre, and the coach, plus a locker room prayer before and after the game. Lacrosse has a pregame prayer in the locker room, a small scale Mass before breakfast generally attended by a half dozen or more of the players, plus a family Mass before the awards brunch which, this year, will be next Sunday. In women’s basketball, Coach Gibbons has requested a similar pattern of Mass (especially on Sundays, families of players would attend) and assistance with invoking God’s help before the game.
Those patterns have basic similarities. It’s the bus ride that distinguishes each team. I always get my own double seat, so the ride is comfortable–no doubling up with a 300 pound lineman on the football bus! Football favors action movies, the type I think of as high-testerone machine gun movies. Men’s basketball tends to be quiet; perhaps a movie, but many players studying, sleeping, or engaged in video games. Women’s basketball has often favored TV shows, and also some common singing. I still remember a rousing version of “The Wheels on the bus go round, round, round” from the back of the bus on one of our trips. The lacrosse bus features movies and TV shows–on the Navy trip this year, multiple episodes of “Friday Night Lights.” They can keep the volume a little lower by running the English subtitles.
If I want to, I can opt out of the entertainment with my noise cancelling earphones and ipod. That affords the opportunity to read, correct papers, tackle a crossword puzzle, pray, gaze out the window, doze off. As much as I like to inveigh against the long distance travels in the Patriot League, whose geography is disadvantageous for the Cross, I have to admit that I don’t really mind the bus rides. Add to the above the chance to talk with and get to know the coaches and players better, and to appreciate the services of the drivers who work for Fox Bus, and it turns out that the game, for me, is only one part of a rich experience.