Customarily the Williams College volleyball team practices from 4:00-6:00 PM, but not today. Today the Ephs were up and at'em in time to practice from 5:45-6:30 AM, before boarding the bus to Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., to fly to Baltimore. After a two-hour layover the team then flew to Norfolk before boarding another bus to complete their trip to the tournament hotel in Newport News, Virginia.
Today's bus driver from Premier Bus Company for the trip to Connecticut was Keith Richards who addressed the team before pulling away from Lansing Champion Rink. "Good morning, I'm Keith Richards the former guitarist for the Rolling Stones, but I just couldn't keep up with the hectic lifestyle so now I drive a bus," said Richards. "I want to wish you the best of luck and hope you go all the way."
Head coach Christi Kelsey noted that the team elected to practice before leaving town because it was uncertain as to whether or not they could get in a practice upon arriving at Newport News. Originally the practice was set to begin at 6:00AM, but the players lobbied to start 15 minutes earlier so they could hit Tunnel City Coffee before getting on the bus.
On the bus coach Kelsey handed out snack packs she made for each team member, assistant coach Mike Bynon, student assistant coach Greg Becker, trainer Dave Livernois, and NCAA representative Alison Swain who is also the Ephs' women's tennis coach.
When the Ephs were collecting their bags from under the bus at Bradley International Airport, drive Keith Richards shouted out, "Give'em hell girls!" Which was greeted with a chorus of, "Thanks Keith."
Approaching the security area prior to boarding Mandy Schott realized that she had not drained her water bottle so she immediately gulped down several ounces of water in a short amount of time to be sure she could board with her team water bottle. Her teammates nearby were impressed with her efforts.
In the airport the Ephs crossed paths with the volleyball teams from Fairfield and Quinnipiac who were headed to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Tournament being played in Orlando.
Before departing Hartford the passengers on the Ephs' plane were informed that the slight delay was due to the fact that the plane had flown through a flock of birds approaching Bradley and that the maintenance crew was just checking to see that everything was okay. Shortly after that announcement the pilot came back to say, "no birds were harmed on our approach, so we'll be getting underway shortly."
Lunch came in the food concourse in Terminal B in Baltimore/Washington Airport, where the Ephs split into several groups to try different options.
On the short flight to Norfolk David Livernois learned everything there was to learn about Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Newport News, and Williamsburg from his enthusiastic neighbor sitting next to the window.
The team arrived at Norfolk Airport and was met by Sam the bus driver from Venture Bus Co. who made the 35-minute drive to the Marriott Newport News at City Center, which included a ride past the largest naval yard in the world at sunset and a ride through the Hampton Roads Tunnel.
About an hour after checking in the team gathered in the lobby to make the short trip to Outback Steakhouse for dinner before turning in for the night.