Volume 93, Issue 74

Thursday, February 10, 2000


Warriors banished to underworld

Coulter ready to mix it up with the competition

Wong: the secret ingredient in Western's badminton recipe

Road trip a must for unification

Road trip a must for unification

By Jessica Leeder
Gazette Staff

At one time or another, everyone has experienced being part of a team.

However, many people remain recreational athletes who have no idea what it's like to be a part of a varsity team at Western.

Individuals who make up a team are not only self-professed, but officially recognized athletes who can participate in the most unifying activity which exists in team sports – the road trip.

In between flying Subway wrappers and chortles of Huey Lewis' '80s hit "The Power of Love," the women's volleyball team made it easy to see how a road trip can be the essential unifier.

On a recent trip to Wilfrid Laurier University, the women sat purposefully segregated from the men's team, taking up half the bus.

"The first year I played with the team it was pretty segregated," said third-year libero Jen Wheeler.

In 1998, head coach Dean Lowrie took the team to nationals which, in the opinion of Wheeler, was essentially two teams in one. Wheeler said the team was unable to overcome the age differences between players, which hurt their performance in the long run. This year the team has come together comparatively well, presenting no hindrance to their present standing as the fifth ranked team in Canada.

"After the games [this year] we [often] go out together," Wheeler said. "If someone ever wants to do anything, they just speak up and anyone will go. We're all really close."

Road trips this season have been crucial in helping the team gel together, but they're not always easy to frequent. Travelling as far as Québec for tournaments, the girls log a lot of time on the bus. This year's team has become reliable friends, family, tutors, entertainers and teammates.

"The road trips are hard," explained first-year outside hitter Jen Williams. "In first year, you really struggle."

"It is so hard to get all of your schoolwork done" added second-year middle blocker Katie Power.

A downside of road trips is not everyone on the team gets to play. The line between those who play and those who don't is a sharply divided one. Wheeler explained the talent difference on the team is not very large between the starting six and the players dubbed "the second six," but it cannot be ignored that one group plays while the other does not. Almost surprisingly, from an outside point of view, there is very little hostility between teammates due to this technical division of players.

"You can't come to a team that's in the top five in Canada and just expect to play," Williams explained. Many of Lowrie's first-year players will spend their first seasons on the sidelines learning from veteran teammates and their coach.

Luckily for the female Mustangs, Lowrie seems to have a strategy for playing any opponent. Looking ahead to nationals, the teams slated to match up against these Mustangs are going to need a killer game plan – literally.

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