Butler athletic team members with spring seasons are familiar with hitting the road for long trips to warmer locales.
The number of miles racked up by some squads may be surprising though.
Seven of Butler’s athletic teams have made or will make at least two trips more than 600 miles from Butler during the 2011-12 school year.
Men’s and women’s golf coach Bill Mattingly said the Midwestern climate of Indianapolis makes scheduling far-off events necessary.
“In the spring, we go down south, and we try to do more [long trips] because of the better weather,” Mattingly said.
Both golf teams will head to Jacksonville, Fla., over spring break, where the Bulldogs will face non-conference opponents.
Mattingly said this helps the teams prepare for Horizon League play.
“We like to play against different teams in other conferences to help us get ready for our conference,” Mattingly said. “Playing better teams on tougher courses can get us ready for that.”
The Butler softball team is also accustomed to starting off the first month of the season in the South or on the West Coast.
The team is making a trip to Fresno, Calif., for this weekend’s 2012 Bayer CropScience Classic.
The Bulldogs will then travel from Fresno State to Pacific University in Oregon for two contests on March 14.
Senior outfielder Lauren McNulty said that while the trips may sometimes involve driving long distances, it is worth it to be able to leave the cold weather behind.
“I think I speak for all of my teammates when I say that we would take a 10-hour bus ride every weekend to play in nice weather,” McNulty said.
While the Butler football team plays its games in the fall, it is a member of the far-reaching Pioneer Football League.
While the longest trip made from Butler to another Horizon League member’s location is 349 miles for Youngstown State, annual cross-country flights are required in the PFL.
Teams from North Carolina, California, Florida and New York are currently part of the league.
Senior quarterback Andrew Huck said that while the trips offer some players a chance to see a new part of the country, they have to focus on the competition ahead.
“We had a lot of players who hadn’t been to California or on a plane before,” Huck said. “We have to keep in mind that we’re going on a business trip rather than a spring break vacation.”
Huck said the time change between Indiana and California can be difficult to cope with.
“We’ve had games start at 7 or 8 [p.m.] their time, which is 11 here, and we only have one day to overcome jet lag,” Huck said.
McNulty said that flying to games does not affect her play.
“I’ve never experienced jet lag or exhaustion after flying to a tournament,” McNulty said. “The most tiring trip is usually the trip home because we are physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted after a weekend of games.”
According to Huck, the long road trips that teams embark on are useful for improving the chemistry and camaraderie of a team’s members.
“I would say it brings you closer,” Huck said. “You’re removed from campus, and you’re really bonding with each other.”